Oasis symbolizes everything starting a band is about: A bunch of average people getting together, playing some tunes and running into a little trouble along the way.
However, unlike most bands, Oasis had the chance to make music that would stand the test of time, finding audiences all across the world. “Supersonic” details the band’s passion, as director Mat Whitecross documents how their persistence and camaraderie led to massive success and unavoidable tensions, catering to both new and long-time fans in an experience all can enjoy.
Oasis was a British rock band from Manchester, England, known for their huge sound onstage and antics off. Coming out of the grunge era, Oasis’ fun melodic rock songs and edgy attitudes struck a chord with audiences. Their debut album Definitely Maybe and sophomore release (What’s The Story) Morning Glory rocked music fans across the globe, asserting their presence as the premier band of their time.
But their third record Be Here Now was a drug-fueled mess, and as tensions grew between band members, the quintet drifted apart, eventually breaking up in 2009. “Supersonic” focuses on their early success, from formation until their famous performance at Knebworth in front of 250,000 people over two nights.
“Supersonic” relies on interviews with the band’s former members and affiliates, including heavy contributions from Liam and Noel Gallagher as well as sound engineer Mark Coyle and Creation Records creator Alan McGee. Whitecross uses these interviews to narrate old concerts and behind the scenes footage. Occasional animations tie together key moments, creating short montages of sorts. Although it’s understandable why there may not have been more than a few of these, the animations from times when the band was recording and touring were some of the best moments of the documentary, elegantly capturing the swirling typhoon of media and hype Oasis found themselves in.
If there’s one thing to take out of “Supersonic,” it’s that for two-and-a-half years, Oasis was the best band in the world. Yet, for how often it focuses on the highs, the film does a fantastic job of assuring the viewer that everything wasn’t fine and dandy all the time. The rise of Oasis ruined the Gallagher brothers’ relationship and fueled the band members’ addiction to both the limelight and a variety of drugs. From their slow start to sheer luck getting signed to a label and the difficult recording of their first album, there was no way these five guys from England should have accrued the fame they did. It’s surprising Oasis managed to release an acclaimed album, much less that they dominated mid ’90s culture.
At the conclusion of “Supersonic,” Oasis is at its peak. They have the music, the fans and the attitude, but it’s near impossible to ignore what’s looming on the horizon and goes unmentioned: their eventual collapse. Alluding to the band’s inevitable downfall, frontman Noel Gallagher and guitarist Bonehead both admit they should have quit while they were ahead, and that it’s likely they were the last band to ever reach such a level of hype due to the dawn of the digital media age. And unfortunately, they’re probably right.
In terms of popularity, “Supersonic” won’t have the same kind of infectious appeal as its subject matter. It’s not that the film isn’t well done — in fact, it’s a fantastic display of how film snippets, voice-overs and animation can all play crucial roles in crafting a story. It’s just that the documentary is clearly targeted at pre-existing fans of the group. And to be perfectly honest, that’s how it should be. Anything else would lack the depth and detail hardcore fans desire.
Some might call it incomplete for not detailing the band’s downfall, but for what it claims to be, “Supersonic” stands as an assertion of Oasis in their prime. It’s a celebration of the 36 months where the Gallaghers ruled the music world, and the documentary stands as a fantastic tale of everything Oasis stood for.