Kill Your Idols (2004)
The feature is 71 minutes — and the DVD includes 60 minutes worth of bonus features — additional live clips, videos, photo galleries, trailers and more!
Director Scott Crary kicks things off with the birth of No Wave in the late 1970's, providing an angular rush with a priceless collection of live performances from Suicide, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, the Theoretical Girls and DNA. From this initial explosion of artistic energy, the film moves through the 1980's, passing the torch to Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo of Sonic Youth and Michael Gira of Swans, before crashlanding in the noisy Now! of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Black Dice, Liars, A.R.E. Weapons and the Gypsy stylings of Gogol Bordello. Interviews connect the threads between the past and the present, an ever-fertile scene is defined, celebrated and trashed with equal amounts of enthusiasm, and the creators of some of the most challenging rock music of all-time get to explain what they do, why they do it and where it's all heading.
"Here in this family album, Lies the salt family of Lot."–Marina Tsvetaeva
First-time filmmaker S.A. Crary couldn't have picked a more apt title for his vivid and complex history of New York's art-punk scene. After all, how do you draw a timeline of a movement for which the point is and always has been to consciously rebuke what came before you? In Crary's case, the answer is to simply let the players reflect in the moment, which they often do with as much of an eye toward subtle subversion as toward any kind of objective truth. "We weren't trying to make music, we were trying to be monsters," says Teenage Jesus & the Jerks bassist Gordon Stevenson. He gets support for such claims from bandmate Lydia Lunch, DNA's Arto Lindsay, Glen Branca, Thurston Moore and others from the late '70s/early '80s art-punk explosion. Exclusive interviews with these originators and a new generation of practitioners — from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Black Dice to Gogol Bordello — reveals a consistent hunger for invention through subversion, motivations that come into cacophonous focus in the new and archival concert footage bridging the interviews. What also comes out is a depth of retrospection amongst the older generation that puts the younger generation's musings in a context that will surprise even the most plugged-in of scenesters. By documenting art-punk in the same spirit as the movement itself has played out — he directed, shot, and edited the film himself for less than $300 — Crary has created a compelling reference for a movement that defies them, and managed to stay true to its spirit in the process. —Shan Fowler
Kill Your Idols took the prize for Best Feature Documentary at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival