"SpokAnarchy! Where Were You in '82" DVD Review (Carnage and Rouge) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Monday, July 16, 2012

"SpokAnarchy! Where Were You in '82" DVD Review (Carnage and Rouge)

'SpokAnarchy! Where Were You in '82' DVD Review
SpokAnarchy! is a fascinating documentary of the Reagan-era punk scene in Spokane, WA and the film uses vintage and current live performance and interview footage to tell the story of disaffected youth in a small, rurally isolated town. The story is one part “Our Band Could Be Your Life” and the locals’ resistance to the burgeoning punk scene seems straight out of the Dead Kennedys “Night of the Living Rednecks”. While many of the bands showcased in this movie aren’t household names, the fight to carve a new identity outside of the mainstream and the resultant DIY spirit within the Spokane community that kept the scene going should ring a familiar chord with anyone who was part of the pre-MTV scene in any city.

The story follows a familiar story arch – the scene starts small with the older art culture merging with the punks, the DIY culture takes hold and a number of bands come out of this scene that could have made it big if they had come up in a major market. Unfortunately, there is a climax to this arc as heroin arrives and leaves a trail of destruction in its wake and movie starts to wind down with the once unified scene collapsing under the weight of drugs, death and people moving away. The movie ends though ends on a positive and redemptive note with a 2009 “punk rock reunion” which show most of the “punk rock, new-wave and artistic weirdos” followed throughout the movie are still alive and (mostly) well and a number of them are still making music.

The movie tells the story of the rise and fall of the Spokane punk scene by combining period music videos, live performance clips and photos with current-day voice-overs narratives and interviews with the people who grew up in Spokane during this time and gives a ‘day-in-the-life’ view of teenagers ‘challenging the social and cultural norms of small-town America’. Viewers of the films are taken through the highs of warehouse parties and art spaces where music, drugs and sex flowed freely to the lows of fighting with the town council over their selective enforcement of arcane fire code laws and constantly having to worry about being beaten up for being different. Director Dave Halsell said: “The ‘scene’ gave me an early education and helped me see through the hypocrisy of mainstream living".

Band featured include new-wavers (think The Cars) Sweet Madness, art-rockers M’NA M’NA and the long-running socio-political hardcore band Vampire Lezbos. These bands probably aren’t known outside of Spokane but all of them would make a great addition to a KBD compilation. Motorcycle Boy front man Francois Haraldson played in a number of Spokane bands before moving to Los Angeles and he said in an interview: “When I was in Seattle nothing was happening. You couldve been the most brilliant person and nothing wouldve ever happened, and thats why people migrated down to Los Angeles. Not that it got much better for us down here but Seattle was dead. It was so dead.

Dave Halsell wrapped things up nicely by saying: “We really hope the film inspires others to do it yourself, think for yourself and do your own thing…If it can be done in Spokane, it can be done anywhere.