Dead End Drive-In: Now Showing - 'Spokanarchy!' Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Sunday, 11 November 2012 04:00




'Spokanarchy!' (2011 Carnage & Rouge)


"This is Spokane, fuck L.A."


Subtitled 'Where were you in '82?', 'Spokanarchy!' is one of those gloriously grubby music documentaries that I find truly hard to resist. Made like this, low budget yet inspired and passionate, indie filmmaking remains the most powerful of all the visual arts - forget weekend box office and franchise rights, documentaries like this are, no matter what musical genre they represent, peepholes into the human condition. We're all voyeurs - admit it - and these glimpses into other worlds, often remarkably familiar to our own, thrill, titillate and sometimes trouble in their own off-kilter way: Perfection in imperfection.


Spokane, Washington in the 1980s was, as this feature length punk rock time capsule affords us the luxury of learning, very similar to a million small town coming of age tales that exploded in messes of acne, rampaging hormones and teen angst worldwide; yes, you will see something of yourself in this film. Whether it be victimisation at the hands of the local Neanderthals for spokanarchylooking different, or alienation from the local music scene for daring to not tread the insipid, well-trodden cover band path, things for people who dared to be great, unique, were the same the world over.


Using over thirty new interviews and a vast collection of vintage flyers and photographs that really make it hard not to lust for the past and simpler times, 'Spokanarchy!' documents the grimy highs experienced by a clutch of talented artists who found themselves in a stereotypical Petri dish of humanity at a time when film star fingers were left to hang over launch buttons of world destroying missiles. Eschewing the traditional in favour of expressing themselves in whatever way stung at their senses (sound familiar?) the 'stars' of this gritty little film formed bands like Terror Couple, Vampire Lezbos, Sweet Madness, Bastard Fuck and Cattle Prod, and proceeded to tear up a community usually reserved for redneck attitudes and the same old sterile life by numbers.


Beaten up by businessmen for looking different and being threatened by gun-loving NRA meat husks were run of the mill hazards of the job for these boys and girls, teen angels and gutter punks, who wanted to change the world for the better in their very own unique style. Amen, brothers and sisters, Amen.


The stories detailed in the film could be the same in small towns the world over - familiarity of situation, desperation and salvation will resonate with you if you grew up with a passion for music in a passionless place, looking cool in a lukewarm environment. You are somewhere in this film, that's why you should seek it out.


Tales of drink and drugs and sex and punk rock are not new - they are everywhere - but told within a context that, once immersed in, almost smothers you in a coolness of attitude that money simply cannot buy no matter how much is thrown at it, cannot fail to entertain. Okay, some of the stories lead to desperate situations, some end in great hilarity, but, guess what, that's life my friends - a shitstorm waiting around the corner to jump the good time that followed some heartache: circle of life, baby.


There is, of course, a villain that casts a dark shadow over every piece of independent cinema. It could be a huge corporation squeezing small businesses to death, a putrid political puss-ball - in 'Spokanarchy!' the villain is a common, and deadly, foe: heroin. Photographs of its victims sting both the heart and eyes, footage of injecting users still clinging onto a pathetic life stinging the conscience. This villain does not get defeated at the end of the film.


The names and faces and bands might not be recognisable to you (Tim Cridland, aka The Torture King from The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, might spike a memory ball in your mind's end zone) but that has zero bearing on the attraction of this film. Small town rebellion, kicking against the mainstream, fighting the power...and looking cool when doing it - what's not to like?


The new DVD, released this month, features some great fanzine and flyer slideshows, outtakes, trailer and a couple of short films, including a Spokane reunion from 2009: survivors, like me, like you. Never give up. Keep it weird. Keep it cool.


To pick up your copy of 'Spokanarchy! [DVD] [2012]' - CLICK HERE


To pick up your copy of the 'Spokanarchy! - Original Soundtrack' - CLICK HERE