SpokAnarchy!: Aging Punk Rockers Remember the ’80s

Aging punks were the recent subject of The Other F-Word (i.e. fatherhood), and aging punks are again the subject of this nostalgic documentary about Spokane’s underground music scene of the ’80s. With a half-dozen credited directors, the film is a well-assembled mosaic of voices. None of the individual or band names pop out, because none of them ever made the airwaves in Seattle or L.A. Instead we have fond reminiscences, home movies, and endearingly amateurish music videos—remember, MTV was just breaking back then—made in what one participant calls “the world’s largest hick town.” Punk and New Wave were both means of rebellion in what felt, says another, “like growing up in the gulag.” Cassette tapes, bingo-hall gigs, and zines bound the tribe together, along with “bad crank and cheap beer.” The filmmakers are from the same scene, which makes for a comfortable intimacy among peers. (One woman says to her off-camera interviewers, “I think I made out with both you guys.”) Thirty years on, SpokAnarchy! wisely doesn’t argue that the scene was like New York in the ’70s or Paris in the ’20s. “It was more energy than talent,” says one musician, “which is fine.” With contemporary yardsticks like X and Hüsker Dü, clearly there was an awareness of the scene’s limitations. And also, one guy recalls, “All my friends were becoming junkies.” A few years later and 300 miles to the west, that’s a story that would be repeated, only with bands and music we still remember.