Looking for something to do while you’re stuck inside due to COVID–19? Pick up that remote or put your laptop on your lap, grab a blanket and a snack and tune in to these 5 music documentaries that you can stream right now.
Godfathers of Hardcore
Agnostic Front has played a key role in defining, shaping and establishing the Hardcore scene, especially in NYC. Godfathers of Hardcore, a film by Ian McFarland, follows singer Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma through the band’s infancy in the early 1980’s right up to today.
This touching documentary shows the sense of unity and brotherhood that Stigma and Miret have with each other, as well as the influence they’ve had on their fans and other bands for over three decades. When Agnostic Front first formed, the streets of New York’s Lower East Side looked and felt like a war zone. Littered with burned out and abandoned buildings and crawling with crime, Agnostic Front took the feeling of living and surviving in that environment and brought it from the streets to the stage. From day one, they took on the system with fists clenched, and served as “the voice of the people,” their people. And while they’ve aged over the decades, (and haven’t we all) they’ve maintained that power, sincerity, and loyalty to each other and the scene they helped to create. Miret and Stigma love what they do – and that spirit really shines through on stage and screen in this documentary. (Streamed on Showtime)
This movie tells the story of the promising underground Seattle band the Gits, whose rise to fame in the early 90s was cut terribly short when charismatic vocalist Mia Zapata’s life was tragically taken away.
Formed in the fall of 1986 at Ohio’s Antioch College, the Gits relocated to Seattle in 1989 and quickly gained popularity in the music scene, distinguishing themselves with their soulful street punk at a time when “grunge” was putting Seattle on the map. But just as The Gits were about to explode onto the national music scene, an unfathomable tragedy struck. On July 7, 1993, singer Mia Zapata was raped and murdered while she was walking home one night. Without warning, this promising band faced a horrific end, and the fabric that built this tight knit musical community began to unravel. Part documentary and part murder mystery, this film by Kerri O’Kane tells the sad tale of an unbelievable talent that was taken away much too soon. (Streamed on Amazon Prime)
GG Allin: All in the Family
What is it like to be the mother of the most outrageous singer in rock & roll history? Well, Arleta, mother of the infamous GG Allin, along with GG’s brother Merle, will tell you all about it in GG Allin: All in the Family.
GG Allin put on one hell of a show. Known for defecating on stage, both fighting and having sex with members of the audience, he even threatened to commit suicide live on stage during one of his shows. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, though he did die from a heroin overdose in 1993 at age 37. Directed by Sami Saif, GG Allin: All in the Family (previously released as The Allins) is a loving and entertaining look at GG’s family. Twenty years after his death, we meet GG’s mother and brother, each of whom has tried to come to terms with GG’s death in their own personal way. His mother had to have his headstone removed from the cemetery due to people vandalizing it, usually with human waste. Merle on the other hand has kept GG’s memory alive by selling merchandise, as well as recording and touring with their band the Murder Junkies. If you have yet to see a documentary on GG, I highly suggest you watch this one first – it’s fantastic. (Streamed on Showtime)
Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics: Ten Years of Revolutionary Rock and Roll
The “High Priestess of Metal” and “Queen of Shock Rock,” Wendy O Williams, was a force to be reckoned with. Front woman for the punk/metal band the Plasmatics, she certainly did more than raise a lot of eyebrows during her provocative and seemingly dangerous live shows. She blew up cars and sawed through televisions with chainsaws, usually wearing nothing more than a mohawk, leather panties and black tape on her nipples. Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics: Ten Years of Revolutionary Rock and Roll will take you through 10 years (1978 – 1988) of band changes with clips of live shows, music videos, and interviews with former band members, journalists, and industry folk.
By no means am I going to imply that this is a good documentary – it’s not and for several reasons. But it’s the only one that exists. Long-time partner and manager Rod Swenson, who originally approached Wendy to be in the Plasmatics, is hardly mentioned and neither is guitarist Richie Stotts who is mysteriously cut out of every live shot. There is also no mention of Wendy’s early life, or her death (she tragically died by her own hand in 1998). Whoever is in charge of her estate, I urge you to please put out a proper documentary that celebrates Wendy O Williams and her accomplishments both on and off the stage. She deserves it. (Streamed on Nightflight Plus)
Danny Says shines a spotlight on Danny Fields, one of the most eclectic tastemakers in the music scene in the 60s and 70’s. Danny helped put such bands as The Doors, The Stooges, and The Ramones on the map.
Born and raised in New York, Fields went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania at age 15. At age 19 he attended Harvard Law School, but he quit after one year and made his way to Greenwich Village – and that’s where the real fun began. From hob-knobbing with the Warhol crowd at Max’s Kansas City to being somewhat responsible for the uproar over the fateful Beatles “more popular than Jesus” quote, he worked with the Doors, discovered the Stooges and managed the Ramones. Fields was pretty much in the room (or within close proximity of) everything that’s considered cool today. (Streamed on Prime Video)