The punk scene died exactly one year after I was born.
In a rock show in the late Spring of 1985, Bad Brains took to the stage and instead of ripping through one of thier classic hard riffing, heavy bass scream-rants, they solmnly meandered into a regae song that left the corwd stupified and angry.
Punk rock was in its final thorws.
Not even the fuck around Henry Rollins could save it this time. And, by god, those who created it in the late 70s seemed willing to watch it die before them as they quit rocking out against the man with songs like "kill all the police, kill all the police, kill all the police" in succession for 45 seconds.
The scene was dead before anyone seemed to really know what hit them - most likely a fist from the over-adrenilined crowd that was swinging at the lead singer.
I was pulled into this scene for only a glimpse last night as I wacthed the music donumentary American Hardcore for hte first time. It was definitly not a Ken Burns-style rock-u-drama that did anything beyond the surface of what Punk music was.
Instead, it spent a shit ton of time trying to tell me that the system was already stacked agasint them and how Regan was personally working against their music andway of life. Their success, each former, burnt-out rocker would say, came from sticking it to the man.
Chuck Klosterman once wrote that he never understood Punk music. But what is there to understand? I like punk music for a varitey of reasons.
Circle Jerks, Gang Green, DOA and a whole host of other "hardcore" acts tapped into something that, for some reason, alluded most followers of this scene. They were playing angry music for an angry generation. And not just the 80s generation. They were playing for kids between the age of 13-20 some of the most angry fuck ups that today are overly medicated to keep them calm.
between 1980 and 1985 the children of the failed seekers and hippes in the 1960s were jsut fianlly starting to come into their own. They saw their happy, peace, love and hugs paretns and realized they failed against Nixon and his attempt to convert everyone into drones.
So, Instead, the kids got angry. They took it out on everthing. The man, police, parents eachother and even themselves. If we could not get people to see the central message of being yourself while being nice, then we aregoing to pound it into your face and break your nose to teach you.
Blood was the new assignment and everyone was out to get it.
Punk rock was the theme music to this anger and it stoked the fires and kicked the tired of every kid willing to get angry and feed that emotion
But the anger can only go on so long, it seemed.
Bad Brains took the first leap in an attempt to venture out into other froms of music. Beastie Boys went into white boy rap, and bands broke up around the scene becasue of creative difference.
I don't think punk died. I think it grew up.
The most interesting aspect of the whole film was a part that was not pointed out or even explicitily mentioned.
Each memeber of the former Punk dynasties sat, unintentionally, in front of a slice of what their lives had become.
They were either sitting in front of large swimming pools in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. Or in the basement of a home that they doubled as a recording stuiod.
Some sat in posh offices where they were now investment bankers or music executives.
They sold out - one might argue.
Those who did not, seemed to be trying to live the life they did when they were teenagers. They did not grow up or mature their own art - if you want to call it that.
It was a vicious cycle where those who tried to hang on wanted to keep it alive, but those who wanted it to die kept pusheing them down.
But they all agreed, Punk, in its purest form, was dead and it was never coming back. But they blamed the youth that followed them - Green Day, Blink 182 - for not keeping hte light on and playing into the night.
But how could they? The scene had aged and now was something completely different.
You can only be young once.