Negative Approach – Fair Warning Vol. 1 – DVD
Motor City Rock ‘n’ Roll
Negative Approach were an early hardcore band from Detroit, MI who put out one 7″ and one LP in the short time they were together. They were part of that “Touch and Go” scene that spawned so many great Midwestern punk bands in the very early 1980s. Since their demise, as the years have passed, NA have become legendary in the eyes of hardcore fans too young to have been there to see them while they were active, as well as being looked back fondly upon by the old guard who were there at the time.
This DVD collects footage from 4 different shows, one in 1981, two in 1982, and one song recorded in 1983. The footage is all shot on one camera and the quality varies depending on the show. It is all fan-shot footage so you pretty much know what to expect. It is obvious however, that this is all low or first generation recordings. Video cameras weren’t very cheap or accessible back in the early 1980s, so it is no small miracle that footage of some little hardcore band even exists.
The first show on the DVD has the best quality and was recorded at the City Club in Detroit, MI. This is the longest segment of the DVD as well and contains 14 songs. The sound, considering the source, is actually quite good and it was obviously shot on a tripod. The camera barely moves so it is mostly fixed on John Brannon, and the bass and drums. Occasionally it pans over to show the guitar player.
The second show was from 1982 at Traxx, which was a regular venue for hardcore shows back then. The footage isn’t nearly as clear and neither is the sound, but the performance is a lot more energetic. It was obvious that time having passed since the first show on this disc resulted in a tighter and more powerful Negative Approach. Despite it being the worst of the video/audio quality I found it to be my favorite of the shows presented here.
A show from Paychecks Lounge in Hamtramck, MI in 1982 follows and it is a similar set to the above one and likely happened around the same time. The set is a bit shorter, but the video and audio quality were better than the above.
Last but not least is a clip of “Can’t Tell No One” that John Brannon (now sporting hair) played on stage with The Misfits at The Graystone in Detroit in 1983. The footage is a bit shaky as it was shot on a hand-held camera but it certainly is a pretty cool bit of hardcore history. The total running time of the disc is 39 minutes long. It obviously goes by rather quickly.
If you’ve never heard Negative Approach before, you’d likely want to pick up the CD on Touch and Go records to satisfy your curiosity as the short running time, amateur quality and 20 dollar price tag doesn’t lend itself as a vehicle to win over new fans but that was never the intention of this DVD. If you are a die hard NA fan and are among the growing number of rabid fans who view them as one of the best and most important hardcore bands in history, then you won’t care about the short running time and low-fi quality, you’ll just be happy to have some sort of additional documentation of a time and place long gone. For someone like me who never got to see Negative Approach while they were still active, it was neat to see what I missed two states over from where I grew up and I for one certainly appreciate the DVD’s historical merit.