By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 03, 2006 at 12:12 PM
"American Hardcore" arrives in Milwaukee theaters soon and there was just an advance screening at the Downer Theatre.

Although the entire Midwest hardcore scene gets about five minutes of coverage, Milwaukee's own Dan Kubinski -- then of Die Kreuzen and now of Decapitado -- is featured in a pair of interview snippets and a quick burst of live D.K. coverage.

The 90-minute documentary does a great job documenting the Los Angeles scene and what was happening in D.C., Boston and New York. There are also quick visits to the South, Texas, Vancouver and beyond. Mysteriously, the Beastie Boys, who were a breath of fresh air in the New York scene are glossed over and the Dead Kennedys are virtually ignored.

The straight-edge movement gets some props and a short segment focuses on the misogyny that was unfortunately a part of the scene, especially among L.A. bands.

However, the film can't help but serve as a tribute to Bad Brains, the D.C. powerhouse that later relocated to New York, boosting the scene there. Listening to and seeing footage of dozens of bands, it's clear that the Bad Brains were the pinnacle of hardcore, with intelligent lyrics, astonishing fastly and precise songs and a killer look. There's not a single band represented in the film that can touch them.

It's ironic that it took four African Americans to master what was the ultimate white boy music. And H.R. and company did it with a mix of spiritualism and fire.
 
While the election of Ronald Reagan inflamed already disaffected kids and energized the hardcore scene, his re-election in 1984 only served to disillusion those same now-cynical punks, who in the words of one member of Minor Threat were "smart, hostile and sober."

By 1985 the Bad Brains focused more on reggae and their rock -- like that of Boston's SS Decontrol and others -- had veered almost toward metal. Other bands broke up or lost the thread and the lights went out on hardcore almost overnight.

The interviews with Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, Black Flag) are perhaps subtly the most telling and offer definitive proof that punk is dead. Morris explains how hardcore was a revolt against the conservative and reactionary 1980s and the dinosaur California smooth rock bands in scenes filmed, natch, with the dreadlocked singer sitting poolside in a patio chair.
Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.