Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington D.C. (1980-90) by Scott Crawford (MVD Visual)


A documentary on the D.C. punk scene should be an easy win, yet somehow Scott Crawford’s film falls short of expectations. He tells the story of how D.C. became a key stop on the map of American punk through old band footage, and interviews with the same talking heads you’ve seen in a ton of other music documentaries (Thurston Moore, Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl…etc.), yet despite D.C. housing a fertile scene with so many unique facets and characters, Crawford’s movie sticks to the basic info you already know, and ignores opportunities to pull new angles out of old stories. So, while you get the headlines of straightedge, Dischord, Revolution Summer, and the idea/ideal factory that is Ian MacKaye, the film ignores other interesting moments.

Among other things, why not explore:

*The Bad Brains leaving D.C. for New York?

*Henry Rollins leaving small local band State Of Alert to join Black Flag in California?

*What was it like for Alec MacKaye to be part of the DC scene, but always under his brother’s shadow?

*Stories about the high-school aged Teen Idles travelling across the country to play shows in California?

*The economics of running a label like Dischord?

*What the local D.C. music/punk scene was like prior to Dischord and how those participants reacted to the “new kids” taking over their scene?

*D.C. punks’ fights with other East Coast punk scenes – specifically New York?

These things could have made the story a lot more human than it appears. With these elements missing you’re left with a very watchable, but dry and mild-mannered documentary that’s essentially a Wikipedia page on film, where facts take center stage over people and emotions.

In addition to the 103 minute film, there’s bonus interview footage and lo-fi live performances.