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Salad Days: A Decade of Punk In Washington, DC (1980-90)

A celebration of the US punk scene with a personality of its own.

The received wisdom is that the 80s was a decade dominated by the big hair and bigger egos of Sunset Strip, and that it was only when grunge came along that rock got meaningful again.

But while the hair-metal bands were tearing up the charts, bands such as The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth were reinventing noise, and tucked away in the US capital, painfully young punks were forming bands, writing fanzines, getting politically and socially active and bringing emotion into aggressive music.

This engaging documentary features interviews with the big hitters of the scene – Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins and Dave Grohl are all on hand with pearls of wisdom – and also tracks down the less well known but equally vital faces.

It pulls no punches – some of the female bandmembers discuss the sexism they encountered, and others talk with discomfort about the violence that began to appear in the pit. But the sense of community and belonging that grew around the likes of Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Rites Of Spring and more is still a potent force, and is beautifully explored here.