• SpokAnarchy!

    Released by: Carnage & Rouge

    Released on: August 6, 2011.

    Director: David W. Halsell, Erica K. Schisler

    Cast: Various

    Year: 2010

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    The Movie:

    When you think about West Coast eighties punk rock, you probably think of Black Flag, Circle Jerks and the rest of the Los Angeles scene, or maybe you think of Poison Idea from Portland or some of the Seattle bands of the era. Odds are pretty good, however, that you don’t think about Spokane – likely because despite a few interesting acts emerging from the small tight knit scene that broke out there during the heyday of punk, there were no ‘big name’ acts to emerge the way there were out of the other aforementioned cities.

    That doesn’t mean that the Spokane scene wasn’t interesting, however, and the 2011 retrospective documentary SpokAnarchy! proves it. The documentary starts off by giving us a quick overview of the town before discussing how a group of teenagers basically made their own scene which was originally based around some apartments that existed above a funeral home. This became sort of a punk house, and various people would live there at various times and sneak down the fire escape into the funeral home to mess around. This sounds inconsequential but it lead to people getting to know one another and eventually some bands started to form.

    As bands formed, a scene formed around it and eventually a punk club was opened up in the small town much to the dismay of many of the local redneck types who, not surprisingly, didn’t like what they say coming into their small, quiet town and saw the punk movement of the area as a threat to be dealt with. As bands like Sweet Madness, P-P Ku, Strangulon, Cattle Prod, Social Bondage and the Vampire Lezbos started to gig regularly, things started picking up but like a lot of eighties punk scenes, it wouldn’t last. People moved away to bigger cities or just simply grew out of what once seemed important and would soon start to seem boring.

    Interviews with the people who were there discuss relationships that formed, music that was played and drugs that were taken. It’s all done very DIY style, and appropriately so at that, and the interviewees (most of whom are from the aforementioned bands but some of whom were simply people who ‘were there’) are very honest, down to earth, and low key. There’s no pretension here, no delusions of grandeur, just some interesting stories about punk rock in a small town that didn’t quite know what to make of it. The documentary closes out by talking about what some of the participants of the eighties scenes have been up to since. Amazingly enough, the man who created the infamous Keyboard Cat video came from there and some of the musicians involved in the bands still play in one form or another.

    The documentary is well put together, moves at a good pace, and never dull. There’s plenty here that should be of interest to those with an interest in the material and the movie is not only quirky and funny but also genuinely interesting and periodically even moving.


    The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on the disc is fine for what it is so long as you keep in mind that a lot of the archival clips are taken from worn out VHS tapes shot decades ago. Expect some color fading, warbling and tape rolls during those scenes. The newer interview footage shot specifically for the documentary is fine, however, and shows good color and decent detail. Some of the video clips, originally shot full frame, have been buggered with to full the 1.78.1 frame but other than that, things are alright.

    The only audio option on the disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track in English with no alternate language options or subtitles provided. The same comments apply to the audio – the newer footage sounds fine, the older footage is all over the place. For the most part though the track is problem free, demonstrating good clarity and properly balanced levels.

    There are few extras here – two short films are here, the first is called Go Fuck Yourself, and it’s a short by Adam Petke, the other is a document of the Spokane Punk Rawk Reunion Retrospective Art Show by Beverly Yuen Thompson. Both are nice companion pieces to the feature. Also look for a few very cool still galleries of old flyers and photos, a trailer for the feature, and a collection of four outtakes not used in the documentary (including one with Keyboard Cat!).

    The Final Word:

    An interesting documentary that anyone who grew up ‘different’ in a small town should be able to relate to, Spokanarchy sheds some light on an interesting scene that doesn’t get the sort of coverage afforded to larger cities like New York and Los Angeles. As entertaining and interesting as it is informative, anyone with an interest in counter culture or punk rock ought to check this one out.