Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


rebellion and music on the west coast of Canada
October 12, 2010 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Bloodied but Unbowed "... chronicles, for the first time anywhere, the late 1970's/early 1980's Vancouver punk rock scene. The documentary tells a tale of rebellion and music — a fiercely independent scene created from nothing." The full documentary can be seen here.
posted by squeak (31 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aww, the link to the full doc doesn't work for me. Is it Canada only?
posted by cazoo at 3:26 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Works for me in the lower 48.
posted by scratch at 3:46 PM on October 12, 2010


(Also: cool!)
posted by scratch at 3:47 PM on October 12, 2010


Damn, I miss Soundproof (and I feel really old)
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 3:51 PM on October 12, 2010


Don't feel bad, Razzle. Just imagine it's 1978 and you're an old hippie doing bong hits while watching the Woodstock movie.
posted by scratch at 3:57 PM on October 12, 2010


The DOA album this is named after -- Bloodied but Unbowed -- was one of my favorites back in the day in Vancouver. It was on vinyl, of course, but I still fire up the mp3s once in a while and they do take me back. They were an incredible live band around that time -- the very early 1980's -- and remain the band that I've seen the most times.

The music scene in Vancouver in those days was fantastic. It was probably in no small part that I was the right age and just arrived in the big city from a tiny northern town, had and made friends in various bands and got to hang out on the fringes of the whole thing a lot, but it was a great great time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:13 PM on October 12, 2010


There used to be a lot of traveling back and forth between Seattle where I was from and Vancouver for shows. This of course meant car loads of punks + border guards. One guy I knew was cavity searched almost every time he crossed into Canada.

I wasn't big into any one scene but I do have to say: stavros there is a non-zero chance that I stole some of your beer.
posted by vapidave at 4:35 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was too young to catch the real deal like in the movie above, but I did see some of those oldtimers like DOA and The Subhumans in the mid 80's. Thanks for this link!
posted by acheekymonkey at 4:40 PM on October 12, 2010


stav, I missed it by a few years, by the time I moved back to Vancouver in the late 80's the Smiling Buddha was boarded up and, no one was hanging out in front of the Sears on Granville any more. Part of me now secretly wishes I'd run away from home, from everything I heard over the years it sounded like a really good time to be there.

DOA still plays, they had a show a few weeks ago.

Don't feel bad Razzle, Ron Reye's just celebrated his 50th birthday.
posted by squeak at 4:42 PM on October 12, 2010


related
posted by philip-random at 4:55 PM on October 12, 2010


Ooooh, I hope they have some footage of the Pointed Sticks and UJ3-RK5 in this. Vancouver's a legendary hardcore town, but the aforementioned were some cracking, narrow-trousered art school punk outfits. I was too young to be there, but the Vancouver Complication seems to indicate that the two camps were hanging with each other.

Thanks for this!
posted by Roachbeard at 5:19 PM on October 12, 2010


stavros there is a non-zero chance that I stole some of your beer.

Heh. That's OK. Art Bergmann stole my leather jacket when customarily falldown drunk at the Railway Club one night, and Andrew Wood from MotherLoveBone stole my bottle of schnapps at Graceland another. Beer was cheap!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:50 PM on October 12, 2010


Wow, great doc. Well made. Captures the spirit and all that.

And I'm fairly sure I would still think so even if I didn't have my own fringe memories of shows at the Smilin' Buddha.
posted by ecourbanist at 7:03 PM on October 12, 2010


Can't seem to get the doc to load, so a question. Does it get into heroin? As I experienced the scene, heroin and Vancouver punk were pretty much inseparable, sad to say. I raise the point because it's always struck me as the untold story behind the story. Even Hardcore Logo (the movie), though it chose to end with an abrupt bit of nihilism, didn't get into what, for me, was a far darker nihilism ...
posted by philip-random at 7:23 PM on October 12, 2010


philip, it does. Jimmie Cummins talked about near the end of the scene when things got violent, "and maybe heroine comes along and, tightens the noose and finishes it off for good." Ian Tiles said, "I was asked what came after punk rock during an interview ... I flippantly said, heroin." There are a bunch of others who said something about it.
posted by squeak at 7:58 PM on October 12, 2010


Art Bergmann, Luv-A-Fair, Vancouver Compilation, 54-40, there is a lot of great history in the OP link! Next I'll be flashing back to watching Soundproof on Friday nights waiting for the fishheads video.
posted by acheekymonkey at 8:13 PM on October 12, 2010


I was actually at the DOXA premiere for this and interviewed the documentarian, Susanne Tabata. Great doc, and it came out the same time as another one called No Fun City, which essentially plots how Vancouver City Hall has made it so scenes like this will never happen again. Cultural gentrification and whatnot.

It was a good year for local documentaries.
posted by StoicRomance at 8:23 PM on October 12, 2010


My experience was that heroin was around, mostly being snorted or smoked, but that it really didn't kick in as an overwhelming destructive force until the mid- to late-80s. But that's just anecdotal, so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 PM on October 12, 2010


but that it really didn't kick in as an overwhelming destructive force until the mid- to late-80s.

Actually, that makes sense. Though I did make it to the original Smiling Buddha before it closed and no doubt stumbled into any number of the luminaries mentioned here (and in the documentary) without realizing whose shoes I was scuffing, I never really got to know anyone in the scene until at least 1983/84.
posted by philip-random at 9:28 PM on October 12, 2010


Oh lord, don't get me started. At the risk of replaying some Facebook based shouting matches from earlier this year, there were numbers of people related to the old scene who had some strong reservations at the way this history was being presented, the choice of subjects, and most importantly who was left out; there were some very large missing pieces in this movie. The number of active women in the scene-- and not just women's bands, but entire record labels which released their recordings, such as MoDaMu-- was far larger than one might think if all you knew of it was this film. It's a very narrow take on the history, which isn't necessarily a problem in itself-- you can't include everyone-- but what we have ended up with is the same old same old: guys talking about getting laid and getting drunk and how they were young once.

And No Fun City.... well, that's another discussion entirely. Wendy Thirteen is still booking bands in other venues than the Cobalt, so its closing hasn't killed that scene as far as I can tell.
posted by jokeefe at 10:21 PM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


n? As I experienced the scene, heroin and Vancouver punk were pretty much inseparable, sad to say.

Yes, it would have been interesting if they'd addressed the fact that DOA's manager was supplying the entire scene...
posted by jokeefe at 10:48 PM on October 12, 2010


And No Fun City.... well, that's another discussion entirely.

Yes, why just the other day I found myself at a rather cool and discordant (in all the right ways) gathering in a so-called "underground" venue that's run by a guy who's been putting on gigs/happenings/situations pretty much non-stop since the late 1970s. Average age was maybe 25. No old-school punks in sight; certainly none that looked remotely punk.

Which gets me thinking of the early-mid-90s and all manner of crazed happenings (again underground) that I found myself at; foremost among them, a room maybe fifty feet square with NoMeansNo pounding everyone into the next universe. That would've been 1994, I think.

I can't really speak for any other city, but Vancouver, I can assure you, has ALWAYS had something properly visionary and/or creatively rebellious going on (certainly since 1977), sometimes in legal venues, more often not. So while it's cool that this particular era has been captured, filtered, "organized" for the historical record, it's kind of an insult to way too many talented, committed, remarkable people over the decades to call it in any way definitive.
posted by philip-random at 10:57 PM on October 12, 2010


Damn. I have that album somewhere in my vinyl collection. This makes me want to dig it out...
posted by Decani at 1:45 AM on October 13, 2010


The number of active women in the scene-- and not just women's bands, but entire record labels which released their recordings, such as MoDaMu-- was far larger than one might think if all you knew of it was this film.

True. Women were very much at the core of the scene during those years. Which makes sense, since mainstream rock was stuck in the "pouting macho" phase. Smart, interesting, humorous, tough women formed a punk phalanx against the bloated male rock gods of the time.
posted by telstar at 3:03 AM on October 13, 2010


This video is only a one-hour version of the final documentary which is (will be? possibly may be?) ninety or more minutes long. More info here. And an interview with the film maker who explains why Chuck Biscuits' face is blacked out here.
posted by CCBC at 3:28 AM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe DOA is still going. They were already embarrassing themselves with BTO and Frank Sinatra covers by the mid-80s; they must be kind of ludicrous 25 years later.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:15 PM on October 13, 2010


the same old same old: guys talking about getting laid and getting drunk and how they were young once.

Well, I was young and drunk, at least.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:19 PM on October 13, 2010


Ah, but are you arriving in a limo at the premiere of the documentary in which you get all nostalgic about your drunkenness? No you're not, and that's a good thing.

DOA these days is a city institution; there was (or was a movement to, at least) declare some day as DOA day-- official recognition with a proclamation signed by the Mayor and all. And you have to give Joe credit for running Sudden Death records and keeping it all going.
posted by jokeefe at 1:21 AM on October 14, 2010


Yes, it would have been interesting if they'd addressed the fact that DOA's manager was supplying the entire scene...

This is not just an idle charge, certainly not from my perspective. As I heard it explained, MANAGER would use DOA tours of the rest of Canada and the States as a means for moving heroin around, and use his management company as a means for money-laundering. That is, DOA tours and records never really made them much money but that's not how the books presented it. Cobbling together various real and bogus receipts, invoices and the like (from any number of fly-by-night booking agents, record labels and stores, rundown clubs, hotels etc -- pretty much always on the wrong side of their towns), DOA presented itself officially as a moderately successful enterprise on which MANAGER paid his moderate taxes and endeavored to present a clean image. And so on.

Worth noting, MANAGER was actually a fascinating guy. Smart, informed, darkly funny, one of the most well-read people (certainly in terms of radical/edge literature) I've ever met. Certainly, the greedy, anything-for-a-buck cliche of a drug dealer does not apply. No, this guy was in it as much for smash-the-state-by-any-means-necessary politics as for the money ... but he was in it for the money too. And yes, the Vancouver of the 1980s (and likely the whole punk-rock-connected North America) boasts a lot of premature deaths that can be linked directly to product that MANAGER sold, and profited from.

A complex character.

Which speaks to the band as well. I remember one particular moment, late 1986 (theoretically past their prime but don't buy it for a second) where DOA played a fundraiser at the Commodore Ballroom which also featured the likes of Robbie Bachman and various old-school rockers. It was intended, in a weird way, to be a gathering of tribes, except DOA blew everyone else away, tore the room apart, OWNED IT, and the Commodore is a big room. Here's a band that, at the moment, had the songs, the chops, the energy (sometimes remarkably positive), the gravitas to match anything else going down anywhere in the world (except for perhaps NoMeansNo from Victoria, but that's another story).
posted by philip-random at 9:16 AM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


We do need to compare notes, philip-random-- your take on K. is one I would share.
posted by jokeefe at 10:12 PM on October 15, 2010


I also hold dear the memory of attending No Means No's first Vancouver show, at John Barley's sometime in 1983? 1984? They were a force of nature back then, and I don't doubt still are, though I haven't seen them play for years.
posted by jokeefe at 10:15 PM on October 15, 2010


« Older This is the magazine that shut down 70,000 blogs.....  |  WarLight is a turn-based strat... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments