The American hardcore punk movement may have been birthed in L.A. during the late '70s, but Washington, D.C., is where the original movement's aesthetic, musical, and attitudinal characteristics would coalesce into its first and longest lasting identity, before subsequently giving way to some seminal developments in post-hardcore as the '80s progressed.
The scene and its still-active label Dischord Records exported a dream team of profound future influence and all-around excellent supporting players: The Bad Brains, Teen Idles, S.O.A., Iron Cross, Minor Threat, Youth Brigade, Government Issue, The Faith, Void, Scream, Dag Nasty, Embrace, Fire Party, Marginal Man, Rites of Spring, Holy Rollers, Jawbox, and of course, the anomalous magic of Fugazi. Salad Days: A Decade of Punk Rock in the Nation's Capital (1980 – 1990) is an impressively thorough, succinctly edited narrative on DC hardcore, post-hardcore, and associated grass-roots cultural/political movements told through live footage and interviews with key participants, including the perpetually charming and insightful Ian MacKaye as well as Henry Rollins, future Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, Government Issue's John Stabb, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, plus many more members of the above-mentioned bands.
- Jim Saah
Over the entirety of its 2 hours and 23 minutes, the documentary maintains a steady momentum, an impressive thoroughness, and some commendable journalistic accuracy regarding such often-misunderstood and revisionists-damaged subjects like the origin and immediate bastardization of "straightedge" and the unwitting genesis of the term "emo." Salad Days, named after the final EP by Minor Threat, has set the current bar for documentaries covering American hardcore's early history (or a facet thereof) and is a must-see for anyone interested in the modern history of underground rock. Writer/director Scott Crawford is a music journalist, musician, and graphic designer who was founder and editor-in-chief of Harp Magazine from 2001 to 2008 before he launched the online music portal Blurt in 2009.
Image credit: Jim Saah