Monday, February 15, 2010
You Weren't There A History of Chicago Punk 1977-84 DVD (factorytwentyfive.com)
(Guest Review by Chris Butler) I think I first heard of Naked Raygun in a Maximum Rock N Roll Chicago Scene Report. Looking through my back issues, turns out it was MRR #19, November 1984. This is at the end of the period covered in “You Weren’t There, A History Of Chicago Punk 1977 – 84." So it’s true, I wasn’t there, or even especially aware of Chicago punk until ‘84. But thanks to Joe Losurdo and Christina Tillman, the directors of this cinematic scene report, it feels like I was there a little bit. This is one of the major strengths of this documentary. It genuinely portrays the alchemical nature of regional US punk ‘scenes’ in the early and mid ‘80s. There was an insularity to these pre-internet scenes that sort of necessitated a close relationship with other members of the scene in order to remain aware of shows and parties, etc. And there were many similarities to the scenes I was lucky to experience ( Denver, Detroit/NW Ohio and Columbus) and the Chicago scene. There were the scene celebs, rivalries, infighting, tragedies, victories, displays of scene pride, disputes with the cops, etc. It was a fun and romantic time and that comes through in the film.
Another strength of the film is, of course, the music. Starting with the fantastic KBD era rock of Tutu and the Pirates in the late ‘70s to the classic mid-80s line up of Naked Raygun, the quality of the music is pretty great. And I remember when I first saw Naked Raygun’s name in the MRR scene report, I thought it was kind of a dumb name. I guess I had the typical punk mindset of the time that punk had to be hyper-serious and super-fast and maybe a little mean. I was befuddled by Chicago ’s bands seemingly sacrilegious take on punk. This unorthodox attitude is covered in a number of the interviews in the movie. And of course I became a big fan of most of the bands covered in ‘You Weren’t There” and many of them have had a lasting effect on the contemporary punk universe.
I don’t know if it’s possible to have an 80s style scene, or any kind of underground scene anymore, with the internet and all. Watching this movie might be as close as you will get.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 11:28 PM