Bad Brains: A Band in DC
So I am not going to write about the show last night, what I don’t want this blog to become is just show listings and reviews of those shows. I don’t want to be that predictable so I am going to review the Bad Brains movie I saw at SXSW. I originally wanted to include it in the recap of SXSW, but I am pretty sure it warrants it’s very own posting.
When I asked my friend, who lives in Austin if I could stay with him, during fSXSW. He said yes under one condition, that I see the new Bad Brains Movie, that was showing at SXSW film. I was so excited, the more movies about early DC hardcore the happier I am.
I have always had a fascination with DC hardcore, and the early days. Maybe it was that I felt proud to grow in a town that was capable of having something so cool happen in it. I remember as a teenager my parents had taken me the opening of the DC city museum in Mount Vernon square in 2003. This opening exhibition included talk of early DC hardcore scene. I saw the photos of Minor Threat playing and I went home that day and tried to google to see if maybe the 15 minutes club might still be open (it had long since closed at this time) and maybe I could go and hang out there.
So any movie that talks about those days is of immediate interest to me. And as soon as I heard about this movie I watched the trailer which can be found here:
The movie took you through the transition of Bad Brains, from the early days to the most recent tour. What is the most interesting, is that while bad brains started in DC, they lived many places including New York but the movie, shows DC as a home base. DC’s own Crooked Beat Records in Adams Morgan is a used a key interview location.
When speaking of the first move to New York the members of Bad Brains spoke of DC “as a place for restaurant owners and politicians” which while the city has it’s charm (I do love DC) I think on some level that is still true today. The movie does depict Bad Brains as DC band even when they operated out of New York.
What I liked about the movie was that it talked about the old days of shows Madams Organ without the good ole days vibes that other movies that discuss DC hardcore do. It also made the transition from Bad Brains being a hardcore band to playing reggae songs in way that never seemed to click in the past.
There was also the use animated scenes, including a great one with a cartoon Ian Mackaye and Henry Rollins where there was not archived footage. The use of the animated scenes created a dream like quality when talking about the past.
When talking about HR’s bout with mental illness, this was discussed in a frank matter but sometimes it almost made you feel like you were laughing at HR. In the scenes, which show present day HR always seems not quite.
After seeing the movie, I feel like I understand Bad Brains in a way I have not in the past as a long time listener of their music. I understand the path they have taken and their musical progression as a band.
I am now super excited to see Bad Brains with GZA on April 20th at the brand new Howard Theater. Tickets are sold out but you should try to find a way to come if you can.