Where were you in '82?
If "slam dancing" figured in any part of your answer, you should definitely hurry and check out American Hardcore, already gone from the Angelika, but around for at least another week at the Village East. This undeniably nostalgic documentary offers a funny, visceral (if ultimately shallow) portrait of punk's first wave in the States, which first swelled in places like Orange County and Washington DC around 1980, gained some momentum in Boston, LA, and San Francisco, and then completely crashed and all but disappeared only a few years later.
Here director Paul Rachman alternates between raw, thrilling footage of the legendary bands in action and the talking-head reminiscences—unfortunately uneven—from the scene's key players: Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat, HR Hudson of Bad Brains, and Henry Rollins of Black Flag are predictably charming, insightful and articulate; others, not so much. Frustrations aside, American Hardcore definitely delivers where it counts, taking you back to a time when 15, 16, and 17-year-old kids completely ignored the music industry, played loud and fast anywhere they could (people's homes, community centers, the odd all-ages club, a dog grooming school), made records in a day (it sometimes took longer to Elmers-glue the homemade sleeves together than to record the songs), and basically beat the crap out of each other until no one could take it anymore.
Inspired by my sunny afternoon spent in a dark theater, stage-diving in my mind, I searched my Itunes library and was surprised to find how many songs I have from that era. And so I offer, complete with historically accurate photograph...
MyMix, spring 1982
OK, so it's not ALL American, nor hardcore, nor does it include any of the dozens of once-vital, now-totally-forgotten 7-inch singles Tom Edgar used to bring back to school from DC... but if I had had an Ipod back in 1982, not only would I be a time-traveling freak, my on-the-go mix would have looked something like this:
Minor Threat: In Your Eyes; 1-2-X-U; Stepping Stone; Small Man, Big Mouth
Black Flag: Rise Above; TV Party; Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
Adolescents: No Way; Kids of a Black Hole; Rip It Up; No Friends
Bad Brains: Pay to Cum; Attitude
Stiff Little Fingers: Wasted Life; Alternative Ulster; Here We Are Nowhere; White Noise
Circle Jerks: Red Tape; Wasted
Anti Pasti: No Government; Ain't Got Me
The Descendents: I Like Food
The Jam: The Eton Rifles; David Watts
The Germs: Lexicon Devil; Manimal
Agent Orange: Bloodstains
Crass: Owe Us a Living
Dead Kennedys: Too Drunk to Fuck; Holiday in Cambodia