photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
REALITY 86'D (WE GOT POWER FILMS, 1991) is a documentary parceled together from footage of the last 1986 tour conducted by legendary HARDCORE band BLACK FLAG in support of their final experimental IN MY HEAD (SST, 1985) record. it showcases the final touring lineup of HENRY ROLLINS, GREG GINN, C'EL REVUELTA and ANTHONY MARTINEZ as they make their way around the country playing small venues and dealing with uppity local POLICE, belligerent FANS and deceitful CONCERT PROMOTERS. in many ways this film feels like the documentary version of the ROLLINS' memoir GET IN THE VAN (review linked HERE) which similarly chronicles his touring career with BLACK FLAG and the immense PHYSICAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL toll that came with that experience.
given the SPARTAN, self-made, DIY nature of the band and the HARDCORE movement in general, what really strikes me about this film is how UNGLAMOROUS touring life was during this period for an INDEPENDENT band. obviously BLACK FLAG were the early pioneers that blazed the trail, establishing the very UNDERGROUND network of VENUES, BACKYARDS, BASEMENTS and VFW halls that made up the independent TOURING CIRCUIT that later PUNK-influenced ALTERNATIVE ROCK bands of the next decade would commercially benefit from. its a real gift to see how MUNDANE and AWFUL it is to watch a bunch of anemic vegans carting in their own speakers and equipment to shitty venues and then drive the bus to the next town. just the act of watching it feels EXHAUSTING.
and that may be the point. this film really stands as a document of what PUNK ROCK and HARDCORE once was in its infancy. you get the sense that what was lost in terms of creature comforts back in the day was made up for handsomely with a begrudging, hard-earned sense of CAMARADERIE, which is ironic given that this film is essentially a documentation of the breakup of a POWERFUL and massively INFLUENTIAL band.
id consider REALITY 86'D required viewing. definitely worth checking out for anyone interested in the 1980s HARDCORE and INDIE ROCK scenes that paved the way for 1990s ALTERNATIVE ROCK. compelling stuff.