Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spokanarchy DVD, soundtrack CD

(Carnage and Rouge) First of all – not the best title, as I purposely avoided watching this documentary for months fearing it was about a spoken work punk rock scene, a concept I still shiver with dread at the thought of. Instead it’s the history of the Spokane, WA punk scene, and it’s a pretty decent piece of work, thanks in no small part to the scene being somewhat unusual and there being a shockingly healthy wealth of surviving, great looking video of the late 70s/early 80s acts.  That the town’s first punk band, Sweet Madness, was not particularly punk but rather an arty new wave/post punk act seen in perfect  vintage footage wearing space age mullets and art-shirt uniforms, seems crucial. During the Black Flag/Dischord years where cookie-cutter hardcore was defining regional scenes around the nation, bizarre art rock and performance goofiness never lost its footing in Spokane, where bands like PP-Ku and Mutation Sensations (shown dressed up as toilet paper Muppets) were allowed to thrive. The only regular hardcore band we see is Vampire Lezbos, and even they seem more weird and vulnerable than standard moshpitters (in their interviews at least). Assuming that this is accurate and not just the filmmakers solely focusing on their friends’ bands, this is an impressive trait for the city, and explains the nostalgia many feel for the scene. Considering the Pacific Northwest has such a history of sloppy garage rock heritage with the Wailers and Sonics, etc., it’s weird how non-garagey the bands are. Another nice thing about this is, as you’ve no doubt noticed reading their names here, none of the bands had important national profiles, thus it really is fresh ground being tread here. There also is a nice balance between romanticizing (it ends with an 80s reunion) and making it clear that small town punk life could be hellish (lotsa dreary heoin tales). But just for the vintage video alone I highly recommend this to any punk history majors out there, and KBD-heads need the soundtrack.

1 comment: