Following the success of the EPIX produced PUNK mini-docuseries and the desire it brought upon for more knowledge of Punk Music’s roots comes a fascinating documentary about a deep dive into the DC Hardcore scene and how it developed, Punk The Capital: Building a Sound Movement. Actually finished befoe the EPIX series, Punk the Capital is finally getting out to audiences now through virtual cinemas across North America. The film’s directors, James June Schneider and Paul Bishow, both grew up in DC around the scene with Bishow after serving as video archivist for many bands which provides the film with a ton of raw and unfiltered footage.
Many films jump into the DC scene with the Bad Brains, a heavily influential band for sure. But the scene would more accurately be started 2 years earlier in 1976 around bands like The Slickee Boys and eventually the Teen Idles, the latter’s disbanding would lead to perhaps the biggest DC Hardcore band Minor Threat rising from its ashes.
Punk the Capital goes all the way to the beginning, exploring the culture and community that forced these kids to rebel, and the inherent reasons why the DC hardcore scene grew up vastly different from New York or LA. DC was also the home of the Straight Edge movement and the X’s on the back of the hands that signify that someone is straight edge, which means one does not partake of any drugs or alcohol, a stark contrast to the boozy and drug-fueled punk of the UK and New York in particular.
Featuring searing live performances from the Slickee Boys, Bad Brains, The Teen Idles, Void, Minor Threat, The Enzymes, local boy Henry Rollins (with Black Flag), Tru Fax and the Insaniacs, White Boy and more, Punk The Capital delivers on the music. Bishow’s footage is remarkably clear and intact, capturing the grime and texture of DC Hardcore staple venues like Madam’s Organ without over reverence helping to paint an even more vivid picture of the chaos. The directors cram in as many songs and performances as they possibly can, knowing that some of these bands have been heard in decades, if ever, and pace the film with the same frenetic energy of many of those songs as well.
Punk was and is never meant to be “clean”, but more raw and earnest, and Bishow and Schneider aim to keep Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement the same throughout its running time to great success. Anybody wanting to know anything about the history of DC’s Hardcore Punk scene should consider this essential viewing.
- Rated: 18A
- Genre: Docmentary
- Release Date: 5/14/2021
- Directed by: James June Schneider, Paul Bishow
- Starring: Bad Brains, H.R., Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Jello Biafra, Minor Threat, The Slickee Boys, The Teen Idles, Void
- Produced by: James June Schneider, Sam Lavine
- Studio: Passion River, Sphairos Productions