The messy but charming concert doc Straight Into a Storm works best if you treat unfocused on-camera interviews with the members of Rhode Island-based folk/grunge rock group Deer Tick like an un-introspective but affectionate video memoir of the group's rise to alt-rock prominence.
Many of the band members' halting personal anecdotes -- especially when they talk about their early years while ostentatiously quaffing wine and craft beer -- are frustratingly sketchy, like when songwriter-lead vocalist John McCauley vaguely recalls that former guitarist Andrew Tobiassen "just stopped playing" with the band.
Director William Miller and co-editor Chris Lechler also often over-edit concert footage (especially Deer Tick's Brooklyn Bowl-staged 10th anniversary concert), so uninitiated viewers may not hear enough of the band's music to understand what makes it unique.
Thankfully, Straight Into a Storm comes alive whenever McCauley and his bandmates reminisce about their old habit of getting wasted and playing guitar while rewatching La Bamba. And some concert sequences are long enough to be enjoyable, especially a performance of "Dirty Dishes," a bluesy, post-breakup ballad featuring five-part vocal harmonizing and a triumphal guitar solo.
If you can overlook the general shagginess, you may wish you had a tallboy in hand as McCauley rambles about the time he dropped acid at a Providence-based Bed Bath & Beyond: "Under normal circumstances, you'd classify [a toilet seat] as 'bath.' But I was way far beyond normal circumstances." It's a good story, but only if you don't ask any follow-up questions.