The Godfathers of Hardcore
Directed by: Ian McFarland
USA/Belgium/France/Germany/Italy/Netherlands/Switzerland, 2017, 95m
Talent in Attendance on April 7th
“You’re a band; you know what that means? Once you’re in, you can’t get out.” Vinnie Stigma, 60-year-old guitarist of NYC hardcore legends Agnostic Front, deadpans these words with the intensity of a contract killer from The Sopranos. And he means it. Hardcore was never just an amped-up version of punk rock—it was a lifetime commitment. Vinnie and bandmate Roger Miret knew that all too well. Back in the early 1980s, while the Bronx exported homemade hip-hop culture, assorted misfits, runaways, and street kids created an equally DIY but totally different sound in the decrepit landscape of NYC’s Lower East Side. It was a guitar-fueled howl of anger, frustration and rage. Hundreds of bands were formed. Agnostic Front survived through 35 years of personnel changes, health issues, drug busts, prison stints, and the biggest challenge of all—growing old. With a surprisingly thoughtful approach, director McFarland captures the yin and yang of Vinnie and Roger, a pair of iconoclastic personalities who remain the heart and brains of the band. Much more ambitious than usual rock bios, this is a compelling portrait of friendship, family, loyalty, and a musical genre that never made anyone rich but gave a lot of otherwise hopeless kids a tribe to call their own for life.