They don’t have much talent, good ideas or even a band name, but that’s what makes them so funny
“The music, man. It’s time to get serious about the music.” So starts The High Note, a not-so-serious new web-series that centers on five young Montrealers who decide to unite their efforts and form a band. Most of their time together is spent drinking and trying to determine a band name, going through suggestions such as Grass Grass, or Reverse Centaur, which comes up three times. Their talent is limited, ideas preposterous and attitude far from winning, but that’s what makes them entertaining to watch. Characters who are unaware that they’re losers are an eternal feeding ground for comedy writers.
There’s Neil, an ex-ice skater whose only shot at fame was starring in a production of Barbie on Ice: The Magic of Pegasus; Sage, a wannabe who can’t settle on a style, yet claims to be a trendsetter; Dani, an enthusiastic outsider who doesn’t have much to contribute besides epileptic dance moves; and Mel, who joined the group looking for a release for anger, but doesn’t seem to have any. Other characters will be introduced in the course of the six-episode series, most certainly as awkward or obnoxious as the rest.
The people we see are believable, because the actors believe in their characters. When we do hear their music, what’s surprising is how tolerable it actually is. The High Note could have been a slapstick comedy routine about people who are just plain bad at what they do, but it is more nuanced. It doesn’t go for easy laughs, settling for a deadpan kind of humour and atmosphere inspired by TV series such as The Office.
It could also fit in the mockumentary category, showing naturalistic scenes of dialogue intermixed with interviews of main characters. Much of it feels spontaneous, unrehearsed, but the series was scripted and shot in several takes. The tone, sound effects and editing style are often dissonant, as they should be, because this is a story of things not working out and it must be felt throughout.
This is a first web-series for director Holly Brace-Lavoie and producer Kelly Walker, who have a background in theatre. It was shot over the summer with a voluntary cast and crew, and is fully self-financed. Asked how such a show would fare commercially, Brace-Lavoie and Walker burst out laughing. “We’re not expecting to break even. This is purely for fun.” In fact, all involved seemed to have had a great time working on the project, which showcases a lively dynamic. The High Note has a charming and fun-loving quality that’s hard to resist.
Unsurprisingly, the show is also semi-autobiographical, and while the whole thing is slightly over-the-top, you may recognize yourself or others in it. Brace-Lavoie suggests that the series was made as a therapy of sorts. It never hurts to poke fun at yourself, like when you take a pause in the middle of a sentence and start laughing because you realize you’re not making any sense.
Episode 1 of The High Note web-series launches online on Nov. 5, on thehighnoteseries.com.