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Coming in November: The History of Chicago Punk on Film

October 26th, 2007 · 4 Comments · Chicago, Culture, Film, History, Illinois, Music, New Wave, Peoria, Video

My friend and colleague Chris Tillman and her husband Joe Losurdo, working under the name Regressive Films, have collaborated on a new documentary about the history of punk rock in Chicago. Titled You Weren’t There — A History Of Chicago Punk 1977-1984, the film will have its world premiere on Saturday, November 24 at the Portage Theater.

You Weren’t There flyer

Here’s the official write-up from Regressive Films:

From what is now considered to be the first Punk dance club in America (La Mere Vipere), to proto-hardcore clubs (Oz, O’Banions), and All Ages DIY scene (Centro-Am Hall), Chicagoans made sure that there were outlets for the genre that was often blacklisted by the mainstream local live music scene. To make it happen, they had to endure harassment from the police, City Hall, Neo-Nazis, and even the audience, as well as making uneasy alliances with the ever-present Chicago criminal underworld. It was a scene that could be at times violent and unsavory but always tempered with large doses of humor, art, and intelligence.

“You Weren’t There” talks to the DJ’s, musicians, promoters, artists, and fans who were pivotal in creating the Chicago Punk scene. The film also showcases classic archival footage of such great Chicago bands as Naked Raygun, the Effigies, Strike Under, Big Black, Articles Of Faith as well as lesser known greats Silver Abuse, the Mentally Ill, the Subverts, Negative Element, and many more.

The world-premiere screening starts at 7:30 pm on Saturday, November 24 at the historic Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Admission is $10.

Bonus: After the screening, pogo on over to the Beat Kitchen for a celebratory concert with a roster that includes:

The Mentally Ill (featuring the first EVER live performance by the 1979 lineup that recorded the legendary Gacy’s Place), Negative Element (all original members, first time since 1983), End Result (legendary art-damage punk) and more surprises to be announced

That’s at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. 773-281-4444. Show starts at 10:30 PM, and admission is $8. (Which is only one penny more than a brand-new vinyl LP would have cost you in 1982!)

There’s more info on the Regressive Films official site.

Oh, and here’s the trailer:


Weird back-door Peoria connection: Joe Losurdo played in bands with Chopper Steppe, who went to my high school after the Steppe Bros. got deported to East Peoria in the early 80s and became part of the kooky little scene we had down there. (It was sort of like a set-up for a high-school sitcom: Big-city punker boys get sent to live in a little town surrounded by the cornfields of Tazewell County, Illinois, where punk rock means Billy Idol. Hilarity ensues! )

Every few years I used to see a random Steppe brother on the bus from Peoria to Chicago around Thanksgiving or Xmas, but it’s been a few years now …


4 Comments so far ↓

  • Aaron

    I actually think I met this guy a few weeks back when I went to see The Handcuffs at Beat Kitchen. He seemed really cool and was talking about the film opening in November. Seeing it graphically laid out, it looks even cooler! I hope I get a chance to see it…

  • CP

    So I’ll see you there Dave? I’ll be coming down from Madison for the festivities and it also looks like Jim M. will be making the drive up from Peoria as will Joe B. (aka mr vomit, aka dr vomit, aka Jose.)

  • Ocelopotamus

    Hey CP, I’m gonna try to make it if I can … it depends on how things go with the work I have to turn around this week. But now that I know you’ll be there, that’s definitely an incentive!

  • CP

    Cool Dave. It’d be great to see you. I need you to fill me in on the Waterboys Chicago show which I was sadly unable to attend.