Though I hadn’t expressed any interest or inclination towards making home movies, my mom bought a Sony Betacam with some money left to her by my great-grandmother. My friend Jon and I mostly used the camera to make goofy compilations of us pulling various pranks around the neighborhood.
We played in hardcore bands at the time and, since we didn’t know how to get “real” shows at clubs like d.c. space or 9:30 Club, I started to ask bands to play at our local community center. Suddenly the Betacam took on a greater sense of purpose.
I began toting the videocamera with me around town to tape shows at places like The Complex and Hung Jury Pub. These were Saturday or Sunday afternoon gatherings at grim bars in bedraggled parts of D.C., where the business owners were willing to have a bunch of derelicts show up to play piercingly loud music for a few hours of potential drink sales. Or the events were held at community centers in tony suburban stretches of Bethesda and Chevy Chase – safe havens for curious teens with greasy faces and dyed hair to learn about Apartheid, farm sanctuaries and nuclear disarmament.
There weren’t a lot of people filming local punk bands then, so showing up to a gig with a bulky video device was a bit of a novelty. Often the lighting was dim and the sound was muddy. Not wanting to get in anybody’s face, I would just try to find a discreet spot and let it roll. Until around the spring of 1988, when I stopped.
I’m not exactly sure why I quit taping stuff, but I’m also not exactly sure why I started. Despite all of this and the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, the groups I shot were mostly fantastic and I’m glad to have these documents so many years later. I hope you find some things to enjoy, too. Long live the amateurs!
P.S. Thanks to Roswell Films for digitizing all the tapes and the DC Public Library for including them in their Punk Archive.