High Water Mark: The Rise & Fall of The Pants

In the last days before the Internet changed the music industry forever, one small-town band’s will to succeed became the stuff of legend.

High Water Mark: The Rise & Fall of The Pants explores The Pants’ lasting footprint on Burlington, Vermont’s vibrant music scene and the intense, devoted fandom they’ve enjoyed. It chronicles their struggle to “make it” in the late 1990s, in the last days before the Internet era would forever change the music industry. The film also asks hard questions about the personal toll of ambition and what can happen when a big fish tries to swim upstream to a larger pond. High Water Mark is a story that happened in Vermont, but it’s a tale that no doubt rings familiar in countless music scenes around the country.

Ten years in the making, High Water Mark was directed by Vermont filmmaker, Bill Simmon, who compiled interviews with the band and fans, photos, documents, and hundreds of hours of audio and video of old shows in order to tell the band’s story.

“It was a labor of love,” says Simmon. “I tell my filmmaking students ‘don’t start down the path of making a documentary unless you’re willing to eat, live, and breathe the film’s subject matter for years.’ I’m a huge Pants fan and I just made the film that I would want to see as a fan.”

Are The Pants “the best band you’ve never heard,” or one of thousands of talented acts that got caught up in the tumultuous shifting tides of the music biz? The answer might be both. Experience the story and music of The Pants, then, you decide.