Who's in It:
The Danielson Famile, Sufjan Stevens, Steve Albini, Rick Moody, Alan Sparhawk, Daniel Johnston
The Basics: Take a family of devout, happy Christians, add complicated, weird indie-rock songs about God played on washboards, trumpets, two drum kits, organ, flute, guitar and any number of other instruments, dress the participants in vintage doctor and nurse outfits with actual hearts on the sleeves (red and appliquéd by hand) and turn them loose on the jaded world of underground music. That's the Danielson Famile, a critically acclaimed but misunderstood band that from its inception has been a source of unlikely joy at music fests like All Tomorrow's Parties and a source of confusion to the stifling world of contemporary Christian music.
What's the Deal? I've seen a lot of documentaries about rock 'n' roll, and my favorites are the ones where clichés are either overflowing and soaking everything in sight (The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years) or the ones where the clichés get so upended you don't even understand how the band functions in the world everyone else has to live in. The latter is what happens. It just feels like they thrive by being forced to constantly swim against the tide.
Why the Christian Music Industry "Won't Give Them the Time of Day":
1. I was already a fan of this band before I ever saw the movie. So I didn't need to get used to the sound of their music while watching it. You might. Daniel Smith, the band's leader has a voice that sounds like a catfight. But it'll charm you if you give it a chance.
2. When the family isn't performing as a group, and Smith goes around solo, he dresses up in a tree costume. Amy Grant probably never had the big idea to do that.
Breakout Star: Sufjan Stevens, close friend of the family and sometimes member of the band, has since become a big alternative folksinger who sells tons of records and whose stage presence and fondness for people in his band wearing matching costumes pretty much came directly from the Danielson Famile.
Other Equally Fascinating Documentary You Should See: Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?, and it's about the weird world of Christian rock.