Director: Joe Carroll and Ben Holtzman Release Date: July 2009 Link: Official Site Filmed in 2001, originally released in 2002 and now, seven years later, re-released on DVD with a whole bunch of extra features, Between Resistance And Community: A Documentary About Long Island DIY Punk will be the most inspiring 45 minutes of ineloquent kids constantly saying ‘like’ that you will ever see. Whether you like punk rock or not, this film is a must-see for anyone who genuinely loves independent music, because it shows something that we should all inspire to. Because for all our airs – going to see obscure bands and standing in the front row nodding our heads, buying vinyl directly from Banquet, letting some of the few UK artists that play house shows perform in our living rooms, downloading music by major label artists, writing blogs – we’ve got nothing on these guys. This documentary is a snapshot of a scene that really cared in a way that not enough people do. A group of kids dedicated to building something for themselves, away from what the mainstream was offering them, in a white middle class suburb that is, essentially, ‘one giant mall.’
On The Might Of Princes
You see the shows at Ren’s house, in a basement plastered with punk rock posters and stuffed full of kids singing along. The shows at the Vargas brothers’ house, with their mum upstairs cooking dinner for all the bands. The kids who start a kickball league in the car park of a mall just to meet people and do something that doesn’t cost money on nights when there’s no shows. You see Food Not Bombs, with punks collecting food to feed the homeless. The bands that come through Long Island and are amazed at the hospitality on offer. This is what a scene should be. No fashion, no exclusion, no idea of any kind of hierarchy. The bands are not arrogant, and there are no pedestals. They are just ‘people standing in front of you, trying to share something.’
Latterman at Ren's House
A good chunk of the film is taken up with documenting the intersecting tours of the three main bands: Latterman, On The Might Of Princes and The Insurgent. Whilst the latter disappeared, the other two went on to varying degrees of success, so it is particularly interesting for fans to see Latterman on tour for the first time, playing early versions of songs, getting lost in Kentucky and discussing college plans, and On The Might Of Princes grappling with the decision of signing to Revelation records and the massive amount of debt from a near-exploding van that pushes them to take the deal. The Insurgent also offer some great moments, with footage of a parking lot show that kicks off their tour getting shut down by police after two songs from opening band Sometimes Walking, Sometimes Running, and shaky camcorder footage of a basement show being shut down with a little more force, resulting in a member being arrested and needing fourteen staples in his face. You don’t have to be a fan to be sucked in by the honest view of DIY touring, but it probably helps, and Latterman and On The Might Of Princes can’t be recommended enough.
Sometimes Walking, Sometimes Running play in a parking lot... ...and the police quickly show up.
The only downers are when things get too bogged down in scene politics, as many scenes are prone to do. First, the betrayal of On The Might Of Princes signing even to an indie label left a lot of the DIY kids feeling like they’d been stabbed in the back, and you can’t help but just want them to shut up and be happy for their friends. The issue of women being under-represented is also touched on, but unfortunately only in passing, with Tia from Porcelain Decay (and later of Bridge And Tunnel) being the major female contributor. With this in mind, the extra features are as important as the main film, with follow-up interviews conducted in the years between the documentary’s completion and current release. One such interview allows for women within the scene to comment on the original ‘boys club’ atmosphere, and what they did to fight against it. Perhaps more inspiring than anything else on offer is the desire of a small group of women to get involved, and the formation of their Long Island Womyn’s Collective that gives them a platform in a genre and scene that is plagued with gender issues. The other two interviews, however, are on a much sadder note: one with Ren focuses on the scene’s collapse as everyone grew up and moved away from Long Island, and one with Latterman conducted in 2006 foreshadows the bands eventual split, as they talk about friction with their record label and the changing world that signing to a slightly bigger indie label brought. For a while, though, everything was almost perfect, and the other extra features help the documentary in showing this, from the good selection of house show footage and the deleted scene of Good Clean Fun playing in a bowling alley whilst punks spend the day bowling. The Long Island DIY Punk scene was more than just a scene: it really was a community. Hopefully showing it to others will inspire them to start their own.