I love punk rock. I love watching old footage from early punk rock shows. I love hearing stories about the glory days, to a point. You Weren’t There a documentary about Chicago’s punk scene from 1977-1984 is a bloated history lesson told by aging punk rockers, comfortably seated in their rather posh homes reminiscing on the good-old-days.
The Chicago scene really never did get the attention that London, L.A., New York or even Washington D.C. received, but still it spawned many important and interesting acts. Bands like Naked Raygun, Strike Under and the Effigies are featured in wonderful archival material, but when this material is contrasted with the modern-day interviews a huge disconnect occurs.
The spirit of punk rock has fallen to the way side. The politics and anger that got so many of these musicians to form bands has been lost and they are left with nothing but memories. As much as it could sound like I’m faulting the band members from selling out, I’m more upset with the filmmakers for not doing a better job in staging their interviews. If you want to record these geezers in their rather un-punk rock environs to make a point that is fine, but make that point. Ask them if they’ve traded in their ideals or at the bare minimum take the time to hide your mic cords. Contrary to what some might think sloppy production values are not punk rock. Your work needs some sort of message.
And now, a taste of the Effigies: