As people all over the world hunker down in their homes – a byproduct of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – streaming services are naturally seeing substantial increase in the use of their platforms.
Rock fans yearning for a live music experience can satiate that desire with any number of great documentaries and concert films. Whether you like hard rock, alternative, punk, folk or anything in between, there’s bound to be a title that fits your taste. Even more exciting, many films are available to stream for free.
Kanopy offers a wide array of films for free to anyone with a library card or valid college ID. Meanwhile, Qello also has an assortment of offerings available to watch via their website or app; it’s offering a free month trial right now too. And while Hulu’s selection of music programming isn’t as extensive as fellow heavy-hitters Netflix and Amazon Prime, signing up for a free trial will probably give you enough time to plow through several of the excellent titles it does have on hand.
We dug deep through the databases and found this selection of great music documentaries and concert films currently available for free on various streaming services.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (Hulu)
Ron Howard’s award-winning look at the Fab Four during their touring years from 1962 to 1966. Eight Days a Week chronicles the Beatles ascent from playing small clubs in their hometown of Liverpool to massive stadiums across the world.
Neil Young: Heart of Gold (Kanopy)
Ryman Auditorium, home of the legendary Grand Old Opry, was the location for this 2005 performance. Through interviews and concert footage, the film follows the creation of Neil Young’s 2005 album, Prairie Wind. The performance also sees the vaunted rocker rolling through some of his iconic hits, including “Old Man,” “Harvest Moon” and “Heart of Gold.”
God Bless Ozzy Osbourne (Qello)
This documentary examines the fascinating life of one of rock’s iconic frontmen, Ozzy Osbourne. From his days in Black Sabbath to his successful solo career to his years of addiction and surprising reality-show stardom, the film highlights many of the amazing tales that make Osbourne’s life so distinctive. Produced by Osbourne’s son, Jack, and featuring interviews with a plethora of rock’s biggest stars – including Paul McCartney, Tommy Lee, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, John Frusciante and Henry Rollins – God Bless Ozzy Osbourne delivers an unfiltered look at one of music’s most interesting leading men.
Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (Hulu)
From her teenage success as a member of the Runaways to her breakout solo stardom, the life of Joan Jett has been anything but boring. Bad Reputation documents the rocker’s fascinating life, culminating with Jett’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Elton John 60: Live at Madison Square Garden (Qello)
In 2007, Elton John celebrated his 60th birthday by playing his 60th sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. The concert featured a bevy of special guests, including Bernie Taupin, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and former President Bill Clinton. For those aching at the postponement of John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, this is the perfect antidote.
Kiss Rocks Vegas (Qello)
Given their outlandish showmanship, Kiss seem like a natural pairing for the glamour of Sin City. In November 2014, the make-up-wearing rockers launched a residency at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. Kiss Rocks Vegas captures the energy and excitement of those performances, while also celebrating the band’s 40th anniversary.
Cream: Farewell Concert (Kanopy)
On Nov. 26, 1968, Cream took the stage together for the final time – that is, until their reunion concerts in 2005. This live recording captures the ‘68 performance in all its glory, as Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce rock the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Mission to Lars (Kanopy)
Tom Spicer is severely autistic. He’s also a massive Metallica fan and dreams of meeting their co-founder and drummer, Lars Ulrich. Mission to Lars follows Spicer and his siblings, Kate and Will, as they travel from the U.K. to the U.S. in an attempt to track down Ulrich for a face-to-face meeting.
Gimme Shelter: The Rolling Stones 1969 Tour (Kanopy)
This landmark documentary captures the Rolling Stones during their 1969 tour of America. While the content includes a performance at Madison Square Garden, an album-cover photography session and a recording stop at Muscle Shoals in Alabama, the film is best known for its footage from a Dec. 6, 1969, show – where violence erupted during the band’s performance at the Altamont Free Concert in Northern California. Members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club – who had been enlisted to protect the stage – ended up rioting with members of the audience. The events led to one fatality, as teenager Meredith Hunter attempted to pull a revolver from his jacket, but was stabbed to death by one of the Hells Angels, an incident captured on camera.
The Quiet One (Hulu)
The Quiet One examines the career of the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, utilizing an extensive amount of personal videos, photos and journal entries collected by the bassist during his 30-year run with the band. The famously reserved musician shares his experiences with the vaunted group, including its rise to fame, struggles with stardom and continuous strides to be the greatest band on Earth.
We Are Twisted F***ing Sister (Kanopy)
Made in 2014 following a successful Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign, We Are Twisted F***ing Sister follows the history of Twisted Sister from their Long Island origins to their ‘80s MTV heyday. The film features interviews with the band, including frontman Dee Snider.
The Who – Live in Texas ‘75 (Qello)
The Who’s transcendent live show is captured in this concert from 1975. Performing at the Summit in Houston, the group rocks through a litany of its most beloved songs, including “My Generation,” “Substitute,” “Pinball Wizard” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
Sensation – The Story of ‘Tommy’ (Qello)
Another option for the sequestered Who fan, this documentary explores the background, creation and influence of the band’s classic 1969 rock opera, Tommy. Interviews include band members Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and the late John Entwistle, as well as various contributors and music historians, celebrating the album’s legacy.
No Direction Home (Qello)
Legendary director Martin Scorsese helms this look at the life of Bob Dylan and his lasting influence throughout music and culture. The documentary focuses much of its time on the period between 1961 and 1966, in which Dylan moved to New York, survived a motorcycle accident and went electric, transitioning from folk to a more rock-focused sound.
Elvis: Return to Tupelo (Kanopy)
The fascinating career of Elvis Presley is studied in this 2009 documentary. The film traces the rocker’s roots in Tupelo, Miss., analyzing the town’s influence on Presley’s rise to stardom. Rare home movies, audio recordings and interviews are used to weave together this tale of one of music’s enduring icons.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Live From Freedom Hall (Qello)
Enjoy the sights and sounds of seminal southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd in this concert film, recorded in Louisville, Ky. Live From Freedom Hall delivers live renditions of all the Skynyrd classics, including “Simple Man,” “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” The performance also stands as an ode to longtime band members Billy Powell (keyboards) and Ean Evans (bass), both of whom died in 2009, prior to the concert film’s release.
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (Hulu)
The life of enigmatic Clash frontman Joe Strummer is documented in this 2007 film. From his status as a punk icon to his influence on other artists, the documentary examines Strummer’s place in music history. Flea, Bono, Steve Jones, Anthony Kiedis and Courtney Love are among the many familiar faces to appear in this award-winning film.
The Other F Word (Hulu)
What happens when punks – proudly defiant against authority – get older and become dads, the ultimate rule enforcers? This 2011 documentary answers that question by delving deep into the lives of famous punk-rock dads, including Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus, Jim Lindberg of Pennywise, Devo‘s Mark Mothersbaugh and Fat Mike of NOFX.
Iggy Pop – Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Qello)
Following the release of his acclaimed 2016 album Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop delivered a dynamic performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Backed by a band that featured Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme – who produced the LP – along with drummer Matt Helders from Arctic Monkeys, the musicians tore through a set made up of Pop’s new and classic material.
The Wrecking Crew (Hulu)
Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was no greater assembly of session musicians than the Wrecking Crew. Despite their contributions to so many classic songs, the Wrecking Crew was largely unknown to most music fans. The Los Angeles-based group played on a massive list of legendary hits, including material by the Beach Boys, the Monkees, Simon & Garfunkel, the Mamas and the Papas and Frank Sinatra.
Poison – 7 Days Live (Qello)
In a 10-year span between 1986 and 1996, Poison sold more than 40 million records while selling out concerts across the globe. Captured during a heyday performance at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, 7 Days Live sees Bret Michaels and company delivering many of their hits, including “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “Nothin’ but a Good Time.”
Alice Cooper – Live at the Enmore Theatre (Qello)
The godfather of shock-rock pulls out all the stops in this performance recorded in 2011 at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. Snakes, pyrotechnics and confetti cannons are just some of the visuals on display. Of course, it’s the music that truly makes Alice Cooper a legend, and with a set list that includes classics like “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Feed My Frankenstein” and “School’s Out,” fans are sure to enjoy both the sights and sounds.
Rage Against the Machine – Live at Finsbury Park (Qello)
Following a successful 2009 campaign to make Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” the U.K.’s Christmas No.1 single, the band reunited for a free concert in London’s Finsbury Park on June 6, 2010. The performance, captured here, was the band’s way of thanking fans across the pond for their unified support. Naturally, the set ends on an emphatic high note, as “Killing in the Name” closes the performance.
Carlos Santana – Greatest Hits: Live at Montreux 2011 (Qello)
Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana leads his eponymous group through some of the biggest hits of their career in this concert captured at 2011’s Montreux festival in Switzerland. Look for guest appearances by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks of Tedeschi Trucks Band during the performance.
The Beatles: Made on Merseyside (Hulu)
The term “Mersey Sound” was given to a musical movement emanating from Liverpool in the ’60s, a sound that included influences from American rock and R&B. The most famous embodiment on Mersey Sound was the Beatles, the four mop tops who became the biggest band on Earth. Their journey, and the evolution of their sound, is chronicled in this documentary, which features interviews and archival footage from early in the band’s career.
Yes – Live at Montreux (Qello)
Over an impressive career spanning more than five decades, Yes have cemented themselves as one of the most successful and influential names in prog-rock. This concert film presents the group’s 2003 appearance at the famous Montreux Festival in Switzerland.
Single Video Theory (Qello)
The creation of Pearl Jam’s platinum-selling 1998 LP Yield is captured in this documentary from director Mark Pellington. Shot over a three-day period in November 1997, the film gives fans exclusive insight to the songwriting and recording processes behind one of the era’s biggest acts.
Woodstock: 3 Days That Changed Everything (Kanopy)
A deep dive into the creation, execution and long-lasting legacy of the most iconic music festival of all time. Woodstock: 3 Days That Changed Everything features interviews with festival organizers, performers and those who were in the audience for this cultural moment of music history.
Discovering Music (Kanopy)
Perfect for music lovers new to classic rock, this series sheds the light on several of the genre’s biggest icons, delivered in easily digestible 45-minute episodes. The program uses interviews, archival footage and performances to cover such icons as Queen, David Bowie, Elton John, Johnny Cash and John Lennon.
Reign of the Prince of Ages (Kanopy)
An unauthorized biography chronicling Prince’s ascent to one of the biggest names in music. The film details the musician’s humble beginnings, the evolution of his unprecedented talents, his chart domination and even his place in pop-culture history.
Prince: Purple Reign (Kanopy)
Released following Prince’s death, this 2017 documentary examines the Purple One’s distinctive musical career, highlighting both his prolific output and his ongoing influence on artists.