Bad Brains: A Band In DC – Movie Review Canadian Music Week 2013

Bad Brains: A Band In DC


T-Mak World has extensive coverage of Canadian Music Week here

March 8 2013 – Canadian Music Week (CMW) is a multi-faceted festival that runs in Toronto, Canada every March. Last year T-Mak World saw and reviewed 34 bands and interviewed 10 more. This year we expand our coverage to movies! Yes it is true, CMW features a movie festival as part of its programming and this year it is entitled Canadian Music Week FilmFest 13. The three day film festival runs from March 21-23rd and features 8 films that all screen at the TIFF Lightbox. The full schedule can be seen here. Advanced tickets are priced at $10 each and can be purchased online at or through Day of screening tickets will be available at the TIFF Bell Lightbox box office. The movie plays March 23rd at 7:00 pm.

Today we review Bad Brains: A Band In DC. The description on the film’s CMW page reads:

The Bad Brains are one of the most important and influential American bands still working today. Despite the troubles of an eccentric front man they’ve stayed together for 30 years without reaching the level of success many think they deserve. Bad Brains: A Band in DC re-constructs Bad Brains’ rich and complicated history.

Rastafarians Bad Brains are a hardcore punk band that started off in 1977 and evolved their sound to include reggae and heavy metal and soul. A band that truly defies categorization in one genre. This movie is their story. The band is composed of Earl Hudson on Drums, Darryl Jennifer on Bass, Dr. Know on Guitar and H.R (which stands for Human Rights). is the vocalist. A very unique blend of characters that the movie investigates in detail.

In a non-linear fashion the documentary follows the band on a nearly 40 year journey. From the earliest days of the band to the present the use of animation is very liberal to transition scenes and tell stories that archival footage doesn’t. H.R. is now 57 years old and he certainly is a confrontational dude, whose history is laid out for all to hear about in this movie. It is incredible seeing a 20 year old HR doing back flips off the stage and singing hardcore punk and the contrasting soft spoken 57 year old version of him.

The early scenes are really a trip down memory lane with some historical scenes from the very early punk scene. This is real punk and we find out that band changed its name from Mind Power to Bad Brains from a Ramones song. The very early footage of Bad Brains show that this band was as punk as any band that ever existed and even Henry Rollins attests to that fact. The Bad Brains though are not just a punk band as they got into some reggae vibes which the movie documents as well. The Beastie Boys even provide their input on the band (yup all of them even Adam Yauch).

Verdict: 4 out of 5 – A straight up documentary that tells the official story of Bad Brains. Very interesting story with lots of interviews from the band members as well as varied musicians such as Dave Grohl, Adam Yauch and Ric Ocasek. Time flies watching this very compelling account of Bad Brains history.

Directors: Benjamen Logan and Mandy Stein
Running Time: 105 Minutes

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