A documentary you’ve surely seen about Washington DC punk rock in the Eighties. The usual talking heads mixed with live footage and photos, this covers all the bases.
It begins with Ian MacKaye saying that the reason this happened in a city like DC was because ‘nobody’s looking’, which is a strange thing to say seeing as nobody was looking at any of this music wherever it came from at the time, and urban decay probably played more of a role in the creation of inner city DIY punk scenes like this one.
The story runs through a variety of bands and topics, such as the violence the early punks met with from normal members of society, to later drunk punks and skinhead violence that led to ‘Revolution Summer’.
All the bands are looked at in detail from BAD BRAINS, TEEN IDLES, MINOR THREAT and VOID, but it was good to see GOVERNMENT ISSUE and MARGINAL MAN get a good airing, and even bands like GRAND MAL and DOVE get a mention. Although, DAG NASTY are sort of skimmed over, maybe due to the fact that they didn’t remain insular to DC so didn’t fit the narrative?
The ‘Go Go’ scene and straight edge is covered in detail, and the talking heads consist of scenesters and band members, as well as out of towners such as Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Henry Rollins, and of course Dave Grohl, who for some reason takes every given opportunity to talk about himself and NIRVANA in relation to SCREAM (whereas SCREAM put out their best stuff before Grohl even joined, and the unmentioned Kent Stax was arguably a better drummer).
Positive Force is looked at in detail, with a quivering lipped Mark Andersen in full ‘emo’ mode, which is also a term that is unpacked herein, and a notable absent is Guy Picciotto, who for some reason didn’t take part. A great insight into the music of DC from zine editor Scott Crawford (Metrozine / WGNS) that acts as a sort of sound and vision partner to Mark Andersen’s book ‘Dance of Days’.