The Punk Vault

Spokanarchy! DVD

A nice document of the 1982 punk rock scene in Spokane, WA that you’d never have known existed due to its lack of recorded output.
[xrr rating=3.75/5]

Spokanarchy! – DVD
Carnage & Rouge

When you think of American punk rock in the early days, Spokane, WA is probably the last place you’d think to associate with it. It wasn’t a big city and it didn’t leave a big legacy behind of influential bands that later became staples of punk rock that places like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and even Chicago did. Spokane was about as underground as it got back then but they still had a pretty happening punk scene of their own back in the old days. It was just one that sadly went mostly undocumented in the way of records.

Spokane had plenty of bands that formed when a bunch of like-minded artist types who didn’t fit in with the status quo at the time discovered punk rock via the Ramones and Sex Pistols and had it change their lives. The story is a similar one that transcended geographical location and happened to people all over the place, myself included. These people found something that appealed to them and it was something that they actually fit in. These people fought the boredom of their surroundings by forming bands, throwing parties, finding a place to play their music and putting on shows. Some even started fanzines and some were artists who painted, drew pictures, and made flyers. They had funny haircuts, they wore punk clothes with spikes and chains, and they often had to take a lot of abuse for being different and were often the target of the police and other authority figures.

Subtitled, Where Were You in ’82, Spokanarchy! is an oral/visual history of the Spokane punk scene circa 1982. It is told through modern-day interviews with as many people who were a part of that scene that were available and alive and kicking today. They tell their stories of how they got into punk rock, who they met along the way, what they did (such as form a band), and where it went from there. There are tales of bands, gigs, parties, drugs, cops, jocks, parents, petty crimes, trespassing, and a lot more. For a place that was under the radar of almost the entire punk rock world at the time Spokane sure was an active place at that time despite the fact that really none of the bands that were playing around back then made any records. Thankfully some people had the foresight back then to document some of these bands on video or the bands made videos themselves so at least we can see and hear what we missed through the clips they used in this film.

The story is told pretty much in chronological order and as they progressed to where things in the scene started changing or fading away the general consensus was that the people involved in the scene had a general loathing towards Spokane and almost universally everyone’s goal was just to get out of there where they could hopefully grow as an artist and have a future in whatever their chosen medium was. Despite the fact that I hadn’t heard of almost any of the bands featured in this film, the story itself is one that was similar to that of myself and countless other people who got involved in punk rock in the early 1980s and it’s a story that I never get tired of hearing the countless variations of. It was neat to see a document on such a largely unknown scene. It was kind of like finding a little buried treasure of punk.

The video is 16×9 and looks good, the sound is straight 2.0 stereo and has a nice even mix between dialog and music which meant no having to reach for the volume controls at all during the film to adjust anything. the film runs about 80 minutes long and it was interesting from start to end even with multiple viewings. Bonus materials include the trailer, interview outtakes, flyer and zine slide shows and two very short films related to the subject in this documentary.

Spokanarchy! was a fun little documentary that finally makes up for the lack of any other kind of lasting proof that this little unknown scene in a remote part of the United States existed and it is recommended for any fans of early punk rock, especially people who went through similar things at that time.

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