Bad Brains: A Band in DC
DIRECTED BY BENJAMEN LOGAN AND MANDY STEIN
USA, 2012, 104 MIN
How did a bunch of black Rastafarians influence a generation of hardcore punks? That’s the mystery explored here. What the Sex Pistols were to English punk, Bad Brains were to American hardcore. At their early peak with songs like “Pay To Cum,” they were a four-man sledgehammer of sound—intense and musically complex, not to mention faster and louder than anything ever pressed to vinyl. Then they swerved hard, introducing booming reggae to the mix, creating a punk/reggae hybrid that inspired groups like the Beastie Boys, Living Colour, No Doubt, Fugazi, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. That should have been their payday. Instead, it launched a 30-year spiral of bad record deals, multiple break-ups, missed opportunities, and the ongoing mental illness of their eccentric lead singer. Despite it all, they continue to tour and record, outlasting many of their more successful acolytes. Using rare archival footage, band interviews, commentary from Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Ric Ocasek, and Adam Yauch, plus original comic book-style animations to fill in the narrative gaps, co-directors Logan and Stein have created a rock-doc unlike any other about a band that was (and continues to be) unlike any other.