BY TIM HINELY
Original Blurt co-founder Scott Crawford’s Salad Days documentary is everything I thought it would be and more. I had the pleasure of seeing it in a theatre in Denver several months ago and now that the DVD has arrived, I’ll watch it many, many more times.
First some history: me and my pals in our South Jersey homes became addicted to the sounds coming out of Washington, DC in the early-mid ‘80s, late ’83/early ’84 to be exact for me, so Minor Threat had already broken up (unfortunately) but some of the other bands from the scene—bands like Government Issue, Marginal Man, Dag Nasty and Scream—all made their way up to either Atlantic City or, more regularly Philly, so we were getting our dose of DC punk. Crawford’s documentary covers the crucial years of the ‘80s, the years of Dischord Records’ founders Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson starting the label (to document their 2nd band, the Teen Idles, influenced heavily by the Bad Brains).
From there it goes on to chart the organic rise of the scene and the bands within, bands like the previously mentioned ones as well as Faith, Void, Iron Cross, S.O.A and many more. It has a segment on the violence in the scene and the harassment that the major players took on a daily basis from jocks and the like. Later on it goes into straight edge (G.I. vocalist John Stabb mentions that “If everyone in the DC scene didn’t smoke, drink or fuck it wouldn’t be punk rock, it’d be monk rock!”), the growth of the scene, the pairing up with the Positive Force group (led by Mark Andersen who wrote the terrific book on the DC scene called Dance of Days, named after an Embrace song, of course); then on to Revolution Summer (in ’85) with all of the bands that sprung up in the era (Embrace, Gray Matter, Rites of Spring, etc.), to the Riot Grrrl scene and finally to Fugazi and the whole later wave of Discohrd bands (Holy Rollers, Fidelity Jones etc.).
The film discusses how being in our nation’s capital, how a scene like this only could have existed at that time in that city because, as Mackaye states at the beginning, “No one was looking.” Again, there are plenty of interviews with many of the major players in the scene, among them Dave Grohl, Fred Armisen, Henry Rollins and Crawford himself—he appears in a few segments as he had started his own zine, Metro Zine, and began to attend gigs at the ripe old age of 12; he would go on to found Harp magazine, which of course became Blurt). Salad Days is a must-see with anyone who has even a passing interest in punk rock. Excellent!