In 1995, musician Shannon Hoon died of an accidental cocaine overdose, leaving behind (like Kurt Cobain) a partner and a baby daughter. But this pasted video diary, assembled from the archives of the camcorder that Hoon filmed between 1990 and his death as he rose to fame as the lead singer of alternative rockers Blind Melon, is – thankfully – not a dark one. trawl in the excess gutter. Rather, it’s an interrogative time capsule of pre-internet fame from the perspective of a troubled but capable young man who knew how to handle a camera.
The muscular, snub-nosed Indiana native, often filming through a fisheye lens, appears here as the boy in the bubble upon his arrival in Los Angeles and quickly fits into the city’s rock scene. Hoon sang backing vocals to Guns N’ Roses, then Blind Melon’s upbeat hit No Rain, released in 1993 a year after their debut album, briefly made it the toast of MTV. But amid this whirlwind, with the same sharp ability to spin the mundane that marked his lyrics, he constantly gravitates to the margins with his camera: a cat emerging from a flower bed, a roadie sleeping in a wagon laundry, Lenny Kravitz licking the lens.
Blind Melon’s current status as ’90s alternative rock means All I Can Say’s main interest lies in the nature of the stardom rather than the band itself. Viewed upside down in the kaleidoscope, the music world’s clatter and rock postures seem as quaint and outdated as the many random cultural landmarks, like a Rolling Stones song becoming the first to be released on CD-Rom. But Hoon is instinctively aware of this nonsense, complaining about the fuss over their iconic bee girl costume mascot: “I think people are analyzing it way too deeply.” (He’s lucky not to be famous 30 years later.)
At one point, Hoon says he hopes to get into filmmaking, and yes, he has an eye. The film’s wreckage flow is of course the work of three other directors, but the original angles are Hoon’s; and many – like shooting dodging the wheels of a moving freight train – are adventurous. This, of course, cannot be taken at face value as the truth about his drug addiction or his larger emotional life, but it is a fine portrait of a seeker wading through human reality amidst fame.