Kill Your Idols * Scott Crary (2004)

In weekends I often listen to music with Last.fm. Contrary to when I play music from cds, I then often enjoy listening to these pretentious, noisy (electro)punk bands such as PRE, Arab On Radar or Les Georges Leningrad, bands that are obviously influenced by the New York artpunk scene. “Kill Your Idols” is a documentary about that very NY scene. Somehow there were different groups of people making ‘anti-music’ and living in NY. These “freaks” wanted to express their feelings about society and break with the laws of music. No melodies, no standard band-lineup, just raw energy and a lot of noise and screaming. The documentary contains images of the very beginning, 1971, that alternate the interviews that tell the story. Those interviews are mostly with Suicide (the original electronic punk band), Lydia Lunch (then of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks), the Theoretical Girls, Swans and (very shortly) Foetus. As second generation band we get Sonic Youth and the third generation bands in the form of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gogol Bardello and Flux Information Sciences. Well, they are all on the poster. The original artpunk scene somehow exploded when bands found out about eachother. Soon many new people came to NY particularly for that scene, many of which were originally art-students, hence the term “art-punk”. The short (and tiny) hype lasted for only 18 months, a larger audience was there for the second generation. The original band-members keep stressing how anarchistic they were and how genuine and spontaneous it all was and how secondary the younger bands are. They on their turn claim that they do not look at the past. Fact is that the bands that are presented all come from NY, or actually Brooklyn, none of them really sound alike (but they do their utmost not to), save for the fact that they are noisy, atonal and weird. “Kill Your Idols” is really a documentary. There are only snippets of music. It is nice to see this old video material and the extras are tracks of the younger bands, but rather than the musicians, I would have preferred to have had the music itself do the talking. All in all a nice documentary about 30 years of art-related punk music.

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