Any documentary about the underground reggae scene in Jamaica that limits itself to one Bob Marley shoutout is a technical success. But by focusing on a few wannabes and winners struggling to compete in one of the most vibrant and energetic music scenes ever, RiseUp gives a voice to individuals behind the up-beats. There’s Turbulence, the shantytown star-on-the-rise, and Ice, the rich boy who doesn’t see the irony in dressing ghetto-tastic and spouting “Thug-for-life” in the same breath as “One Love, y’all.” And then there’s Kemoy, the cute country girl with some serious pipes. There’s plenty of ganja and nonsense about Jah love, to be sure (and do we really need another dreaded, Rastafarian wise man expounding on the cosmic necessity of music, weed, and banana leaf shoes?). But from that clutter come three unique and compelling tales. For the uninitiated, RiseUp highlights why some reggae seems incredibly profound in its simplicity and why some of it just comes off like “Red Red Wine.”
At 8 p.m. at Discovery HD Theater; also on Saturday, June 20, at 10:30 p.m. at Round House Theatre.