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Film Review: ‘Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk’ at VARIETY

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  • Jun 02
    Film Review: ‘Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk’ at VARIETY

    Corbett Redford offers a dynamic, three-hour chronicle of the Berkeley punk scene that birthed Green Day and other pop-punk bands.

    By now rivaling Bloomsbury and the Beats as the Most Exhaustively Chronicled Artistic Movement Ever, punk gets yet another regional recap in the documentary “Turn It Around.” Yet these nearly three hours devoted to the East Bay scene and 924 Gilman Street collective, which famously gave the world such breakout acts as Green Day and Rancid, seem to speed by about as fast as a 7″ thrash single.

    Corbett Redford’s film channels and sustains the energy of restless youth while communicating the distinctive qualities of a community that carried collectivist 1960s ideals into a new generation, even as it rejected any vestige of their hippie parents’ music. Following its opening-night premiere at SF DocFest, “Turn” opens a week’s run June 2 at the same Alamo Drafthouse venue, with other cities and variably scaled dates following over the summer — some in tandem with its Green Day executive producers’ concert tour.

    After a terrific cartoon credits sequence (Rancid co-founder Tim Armstrong serves as director of animation), we take a brief tour through familiar images of the San Francisco Bay Area as a traditional stronghold for rebellion, the punk movement’s initial rise and its early local days in San Francisco. (Those bands get their own documentary, “Buried in the Mix,” which closes this year’s Docfest.) Across the bay, an equivalency of punk bands was slower to take root, in part because there were no dedicated performance spaces like in San Francisco.

    That changed when some grownups led by Tim Yohannan of Maximumrocknroll (a local radio showcase turned hugely influential zine) found an available warehouse space in a West Berkeley industrial area. From the start, 924 Gilman Street was a collective endeavor, with volunteers doing the necessary remodeling to make it a performance venue. A no-alcohol, all-ages policy made kids a clamorous voice in policy decisions as well as patronage. Opening at the end of 1986, the club rapidly became a social and artistic focus for youth not just from Berkeley and Oakland, but far-flung ’burbs like Pinole, El Sobrante and Rodeo. The spirit was freewheeling and inclusive in nearly every way — though at one point the community did physically repel an invasion of skinheads, who’d been attracted by the hardcore punk bands but stuck around simply to pick fights.

    Bills could be wildly diverse, though some musical throughline could be found in defining early units like the fabled if short-lived Operation Ivy (whose leading members later formed Rancid) and Neurosis, as well as such lesser-remembered but intriguing acts as Crimpshrine, Sweet Baby Jesus, Yeastie Girlz and Blatz. Homocore and Riot Grrl bands found natural berth here. In 1987, Lookout Records began documenting the scene, releasing records that in the early/mid-’90s fostered a pop-punk boom — one that, to the chagrin of many Gilman purists, would lead to major-label signings and huge sales for a select very few.

    Full review at Variety: HERE

Brian's picture
on June 2, 2017 - 4:56pm

Corbett Redford offers a dynamic, three-hour chronicle of the Berkeley punk scene that birthed Green Day and other pop-punk bands.

By now rivaling Bloomsbury and the Beats as the Most Exhaustively Chronicled Artistic Movement Ever, punk gets yet another regional recap in the documentary “Turn It Around.” Yet these nearly three hours devoted to the East Bay scene and 924 Gilman Street collective, which famously gave the world such breakout acts as Green Day and Rancid, seem to speed by about as fast as a 7″ thrash single.

Corbett Redford’s film channels and sustains the energy of restless youth while communicating the distinctive qualities of a community that carried collectivist 1960s ideals into a new generation, even as it rejected any vestige of their hippie parents’ music. Following its opening-night premiere at SF DocFest, “Turn” opens a week’s run June 2 at the same Alamo Drafthouse venue, with other cities and variably scaled dates following over the summer — some in tandem with its Green Day executive producers’ concert tour.

After a terrific cartoon credits sequence (Rancid co-founder Tim Armstrong serves as director of animation), we take a brief tour through familiar images of the San Francisco Bay Area as a traditional stronghold for rebellion, the punk movement’s initial rise and its early local days in San Francisco. (Those bands get their own documentary, “Buried in the Mix,” which closes this year’s Docfest.) Across the bay, an equivalency of punk bands was slower to take root, in part because there were no dedicated performance spaces like in San Francisco.

That changed when some grownups led by Tim Yohannan of Maximumrocknroll (a local radio showcase turned hugely influential zine) found an available warehouse space in a West Berkeley industrial area. From the start, 924 Gilman Street was a collective endeavor, with volunteers doing the necessary remodeling to make it a performance venue. A no-alcohol, all-ages policy made kids a clamorous voice in policy decisions as well as patronage. Opening at the end of 1986, the club rapidly became a social and artistic focus for youth not just from Berkeley and Oakland, but far-flung ’burbs like Pinole, El Sobrante and Rodeo. The spirit was freewheeling and inclusive in nearly every way — though at one point the community did physically repel an invasion of skinheads, who’d been attracted by the hardcore punk bands but stuck around simply to pick fights.

Bills could be wildly diverse, though some musical throughline could be found in defining early units like the fabled if short-lived Operation Ivy (whose leading members later formed Rancid) and Neurosis, as well as such lesser-remembered but intriguing acts as Crimpshrine, Sweet Baby Jesus, Yeastie Girlz and Blatz. Homocore and Riot Grrl bands found natural berth here. In 1987, Lookout Records began documenting the scene, releasing records that in the early/mid-’90s fostered a pop-punk boom — one that, to the chagrin of many Gilman purists, would lead to major-label signings and huge sales for a select very few.

Full review at Variety: HERE

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