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Yesterday Was Everything

Independent Film
Format: streaming video
Released: 2017
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8.5/10


In 2014, Metalcore legends, Misery Signals, reunited with their original singer, Jesse Zaraska, for the Malice X tour to commemorate their landmark debut, "Malice and the Magnum Heart." "Yesterday Was Everything" is filmmaker Matthew Mixon's unflinching, unblinking, gut-wrenching ride-along documentary covering the sometimes-tumultuous reunion, with detours into the band’s history, including their triumphs and personal tragedies. Mixon filmed, edited, and directed this project entirely on his own, blending new footage with old camcorder moments and photos of the band members in their younger days. The end result feels as polished and well-made as any big-budget, Oscar-bait documentary.

 

This film is a must for anyone who's ever been in a band or wondered about becoming a professional musician. It's like "This is Spinal Tap" mixed with Metallica's "Some Kind of Monster," just without the jokes of the former and the multi-millionaire rock egos of the latter. Guitarist Ryan Morgan has stated that Matthew Mixon is his best friend; this closeness with the subjects enabled Mixon to get genuine candor from the band - - not just while going through the everyday stresses of a band on tour, but also dealing with all of the emotions of working and traveling again with their estranged friend and singer, Jesse.
Misery Signals are based out of Wisconsin, with ties to Edmonton, AB (one of the T-shirts on the Malice X tour features their name in the Edmonton Oilers team logo). The film portrays all 5 of the touring band members - - plus manager Brandon Best - - as nice, introspective, intelligent, down-to-earth guys, with connections to Straight-Edge, Hardcore, Punk, and Metal cultures, who sometimes seem bewildered to be adults traveling city-to-city big and small in shabby vehicles.
There are three primary elements to the film, each of which are fascinating in their own right:
First are the snippets of Misery Signals live shows, in venues ranging in size from tiny rooms to huge halls. What never wavers from show to show is the audience's fanatical devotion and energy for the band, which is fully reciprocated. There's a wonderful moment early on where Ryan Morgan addresses the crowd, encouraging them to keep having a great time, but stating almost apologetically that fan stage-crashers have disrupted his gear, and that he needs a minute to fix everything. Everyone at the front of the crowds shouts every lyric back at the band, and it's strangely endearing to see vocalist Jesse Zaraska leap into them, shoving the mic in their faces to let them be heard.
Second is a discussion of Misery Signals' history and formation, much of which involves the bands, 7 Angels 7 Plagues and Compromise, and how Misery Signals formed from the ashes when those outfits disbanded following member departures from one, and a traumatizing, fatal tour bus accident from the other. Mixon does a masterful job of tantalizing the viewer with the tragic elements of the story, revealing gradually, before the emotional retelling from one of its survivors (saying who would be a minor spoiler).
The third and possibly biggest component is, of course, the filmed conversations with the members past and present, Brandon Best, as well as others around the band. Again, Mixon's friendship may have helped to break down the barriers, enabling them to speak their feelings to his camera and fully vent their frustrations. The horrific words that had passed between Jesse and the band after his 2006 firing may be buried, but they don't seem to be entirely forgotten. Jesse also brings some unique personal needs on the road with him, and his bandmates are not shy in venting their frustrations into Mixon's camera.
In sum, "Yesterday Was Everything" is a well-made movie that captures the major events of Misery Signals' history, providing the sometimes heartbreaking context behind the emotional power of their Malice X tour. It's an absolute must-see for their fans, but really, a fascinating watch for any audience.

 

 
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