Bill Perrine: It’s Gonna Blow!!! San Diego’s Music Underground 1986-9

California – it’s not all sailors and surfers.

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As this weighty documentary amply recalls, San Diego was lined up as the “new Seattle” in the mid-90s by a music industry sniffing out the next patch of fertile ground. But as this shaky, sweaty, thrilling footage demonstrates, Rocket From The Crypt aside, what was going on there was way too weird for the mainstream.

From its early, skinhead-infested days as “the most violent scene in the nation”, the punk crowd in this conservative, Mexican-border city developed into a peace-loving but electrifying, strange and varied DIY community.

Crude camcorder clips capture rammed shows in shoebox basements, and with the wonderful RFTC, Drive Like Jehu and Pitchfork (all featuring John Reis, on typically cool form when reminiscing here) leading the charge, it’s the underground set that make this fascinating.

From the fun, unpredictable Fishwife (with Ryan Foxe, “San Diego’s David Yow”), to Crash Worship’s trippy shows featuring lashings of fire, gold-painted, writhing bodies and a cult atmosphere, this much heady variety made it impossible to distil and take to the masses. Shame, then, that it ends with Blink 182, the least representative band possible, breaking through to the big time. Bugger.

Classic Rock 221: Stuff