Nobody dies onscreen, but otherwise this tensely amusing behind-the-scenes look at a reunion concert by legendary hip-hop nonet the Wu-Tang Clan gives Albert and David Maysles’s Gimme Shelter a run for its money as a rock doc–horror movie hybrid.
Rock’s action centers not on the performers but on Californian hip-hop impresario Chang Weisberg, who would be to concert promotion what Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown is to disaster aid, except that it’s impossible to imagine Brownie mortgaging his own house to get a job done. Flying by the seat of his pants from crisis to crisis, Weisberg blithely fudges his way around the most basic logistical issues (e.g., the number of attendees to expect versus the number who can safely fit inside the hangarlike venue). When the concert sells out, his grossly underpowered security squad loses control of the gate, and thousands of Wu-Tang fans surge in unfrisked and unticketed.
After spiriting his mom (she’s helping out as a cashier) and the gate receipts out of the danger zone in a minivan, Weisberg confronts a final crisis: Wu-Tang luminary Ol’ Dirty Bastard (apparently not the most reliable fellow even on his better days) is out of his mind on crack and refuses to take the stage, and the hot, stoned, increasingly unruly crowd is poised to riot. Concert films aren’t generally associated with suspense, but this one’s a nail-biter.