‘Big Star’ documentary comes to Stamford’s Avon Theatre

It’s nothing short of criminal that Big Star’s greatest popular exposure came in the form of a TV sitcom about a group of high school kids getting high in their parent’s basement.

I’m talking about “That 70’s Show,” of course, and it’s theme song, “In The Street,” which was originally written and performed by Big Star, but covered for the show by the band Cheap Trick.

Despite their infectious melodies and potent hooks, Big Star — a power pop band formed by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell in Memphis in 1971 — never impacted the mainstream consciousness. They did, however, have a major influence on a broad range of rock groups (R.E.M., Cheap Trick, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies) while shaping the sound of popular music for years to come.

More than 40 years after the founding of Big Star, the band is finally getting its due with the release of a new feature-length documentary.

“Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” which plays at the Avon Theatre in Stamford Wednesday, Aug. 7 and includes a post-film Q-and-A with director Olivia Mori, tells the story of “the dismal commercial failure, subsequent massive critical acclaim and enduring legacy of pop music’s greatest cult phenomenon, Big Star,” according to the film’s website.

Adam Birnbaum, director of film programming at the Avon, said the theater “is very excited to have the opportunity to present” the film.

“I can think of few if any groups that had such a radio friendly sound and critical support without ever breaking through,” he said. “Although they developed a rabid cult following and posthumous success that grew in lockstep with the post-punk, indie rock and alternative power pop movements of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, many people today have still never heard of or listened to Big Star.”

Birbaum added that “Their back story, fraught with music industry challenges, commercial failures and tragic situations albeit some truly memorable music, makes this a must-see film for fans of the band, lovers of rock and roll, and the casual documentary film fan.”

For tickets, call the Avon Theatre box office at 203-967-3660.

Check out a live performance from Big Star, the opening credits to “That 70s Show” and the trailer for “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” below:

Scott Gargan