For the past 27 years, director Cameron Crowe has specialized in making films about earnest, “uncool” people who live and die by their passions. From “Say Anything…” to “Almost Famous,” Crowe’s films focus on that feeling of intense love, for people, for places, and especially for music. His upcoming Showtime TV series “Roadies” continues with that theme by focusing on a makeshift family of roadies for the fictional rock group the Staten-House Band. Starring Luke Wilson as Bill the tour manager and Carla Gugino as Shelli the production manager, “Roadies” follows the road crew as their lives are about to change with the arrival of a financial advisor who wants to overhaul their latest tour. The pilot was just released online ahead of its June 26th premiere date for those who are just itching to see what Crowe’s next project looks like. Below, IndieWIRE has the five best Cameron Crowe-isms from the very first episode of “Roadies.”
1. Music As Organizing Life Principle
Cameron Crowe began his career writing for Rolling Stone magazine as a rock journalist; his first cover story was on The Allman Brothers Band tour in which he not only interviewed the band, but the entire road crew as well. This period of his life served as inspiration for “Almost Famous,” Crowe’s love letter to rock ‘n’ roll, but it has also clearly inspired “Roadies,” as the series affectionately documents the people whose lives revolve around making sure musicians have everything they need to perform their magic. Bill and Shelli desperately try to maintain order in an industry that feeds off of disorder, dealing with annoying, violent childen, crazy stalkers, and even the occasional firearm. But they, and the rest of the large ensemble cast, do it because of the music.
2. Fandom, or How To Maintain Love In The Face of All Obstacles
One of the major subplots in the pilot involves Kelly Ann (Imogen Poots), a young roadie who’s leaving the tour to go to film school in New York on a half-scholarship. She says she can “no longer hear the music anymore,” and she thinks the longer she stays on the tour, her love for not just the Staten-House Band, but music in general will slowly fade away. Crowe’s work often features a protagonist who’s love is frequently tested by numerous obstacles, and “Roadies” is no different as Kelly Ann’s determination to leave heightens when she sees the road crew threatened by management. But eventually, that resolve slowly crumbles as she realizes the family she’s leaving behind.
3. Heart-On-Your-Sleeve, Inspirational Montages
Though montages are frequently used as cheap emotional gimmickry, the best one’s still always stand out. Luckily, the “Roadies” pilot has many montages, so if one reads as bland, there’s another one along the way that could reach its potential. There’s a montage of the indie folk band The Head and The Heart doing a soundcheck, another of the road crew hard at work for their next gig, and finally the cheesiest, but most effective montages of all features a character running towards what has been in their heart all along.
4. Honesty and Authenticity Above All Else
When the financial advisor Reg Whitehead (Rafe Spall) comes on the tour, he immediately fires a beloved old roadie (Ron White) for being under federal investigation for reselling items left in storage units by victims of Hurricane Katrina. Next, he gathers the crew to talk about branding, market potential, and keeping costs to a minimum. Naturally, this prompts a negative response from the crew who know exactly what it takes to keep everything afloat, but it inspires a tirade from Kelly Ann who smells that Reg isn’t even a music fan (he calls Mumford and Sons “The Mumford Sons”). She preaches authentic feeling that a band’s music can inspire as the only brand worth following. “You either love what you do or get the fuck out,” she says.
5. A Romance At The Center
Crowe loves romance about as much as he loves classic rock, so naturally there will be a romance at the center of “Roadies.” Though details are scant in the pilot, Bill and Shelli were once in a relationship that’s now long since over. Shelli is currently married to a production manager on the Taylor Swift tour, and Bill sleeps with twenty-somethings to numb the end of his relationship. But there are still sparks between them and all the bickering can’t conceal their true feelings. One can reasonably predict that they will be in each other’s arms soon enough.