Punk Rock Summer Camp (Side One Dummy)
by Ewan Wadharmi
The meandering non-narrative style of this video magazine is not a documentary. It is a sampler. An infomercial that entices the viewer with bits of what they missed, and encourages participants to relive what they enjoyed. It works. The camera wanders the stages like any good ticket-holder, looking for the best possible combination of acts. Leaving mid-song to see if anything better is going on elsewhere. More than that, we travel to other towns and continents to witness their version. Often the most engaging artists don’t get equal air time, which only teases the dissatisfied into buying a pass. Duane Peters practically offs hisself flopping around with U.S. Bombs in order to get face time, but it stops short before you’ve had your fill. Also forced unnaturally to play in the daylight, The Reverend Horton Heat barely gets in a few searing licks before he’s unceremoniously cut off. Bassist Jimbo Wallace gets more time on surveillance, nicking Cheerios at the market. Meanwhile, flavorless acts like Unwritten Law and No Use For A Name get their full song. The Specials are relegated to the clean-up theme when “Ghost Town” plays through the credits. Like Dr. Phil said (or was it Hendrix?), you make your own experience. This is a lesson to vote next time by shelling out that service charge. Then you can stay for the full swing of Hepcat‘s ska stylings, and the guilty pleasure of Atomic Fireballs. When Warped crosses paths with Ozzfest, exchange students Deftones deliver an out-of-tune, muddy set that begs for a guitar tech. The hometown thrill-show by Germany’s Die Toten Hosen is the hands-down winner. The singer eliminates all competition by riling the masses from the top of the stage scaffolding.
Behind the scenes, we spend time harassing the roustabouts trying to get the show set up. A production guy provides the most laughs, becoming the reluctant hero to the adoring camera. Features like the Ladies’ Lounge, a mural made by attendees, an impromptu German marriage, and a pirate radio broadcast provide a carny atmosphere. The Ozzfest fan interviewee is the most stereotyped drunken mullet-sporting dude they could find. His tale is rattled off with conviction, while you feel an overwhelming sense of “There but for the grace of God.” Skateboarders manage to find odd pools to grind in every town, providing great wipeout footage. BMX and motocross pros jump busses, ramps, and all but break out the Wheel of Death. You’ll want the DVD for all the things you missed. But you’ll want to fill in the gaps yourself for all the filmmakers missed.
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