Video: 1991: The Year Punk Broke DVD Trailer

Easter is always a sad reminder to me of the passing of Kurt Cobain on April 5. A couple of weeks ago I watched Dave Grohl’s keynote speech at the 2013 SXSW*, and it’s still moving to hear about how he coped after Kurt died.

1991: The Year Punk Broke is a tour diary of post-punk gods Sonic Youth two weeks before the biggest album of the decade, Nevermind is released. Capturing stellar performances from Nirvana and Sonic Youth, this is a film to watch if you’re a fan of either band for the performances alone (the rest of the footage is a bit average).

Originally released in 1992 the title of the film refers to a sarcastic joke made by Sonic Youth on the tour. They joked punk had broken into the mainstream and they were riding the wave. They had no idea of what was to come in a few short months.

Sonic Youth had invited filmmaker Dave Markey to record their European tour for a home movie of sorts. What he captured was a rare moment in time pre-Nevermind where Nirvana attracted an audience purely by spectacle.

Sigh as Kurt Cobain throws himself onto Dave Grohl’s drum kit, smile as Kim Gordon applies heavy make-up to Nirvana members dressed in costume, laugh as Kurt climbs onto Krist Novoselic’s broad shoulders while still playing his guitar. There are also some fun moments with Dave exploring the rider, and cameos from J Mascis, Mark Arm, Matt Lukin, Courtney Love, Kat Bjelland, and Joey Ramone.

Featuring interspersed footage from a number of live shows recorded over the two-week period, the filmmaker creates an homage to video clips of the 60’s and 70’s. You’ll find Nirvana performing Negative Creep; Endless, Nameless; Smells Like Teen Spirit and Polly. Sonic Youth playing Schizophrenia, Brother James, Teenage Riot, Dirty Boots, I Love Her All The Time, Mote, Kool Thing, and Expressway to Yr Skull, songs from my favourite eras of Sonic Youth.

The tour also includes performances by alternative rockers Dinosaur Jr., Babes in Toyland, Gumball, and even classic punk rockers The Ramones!

The worst part of the film is Thurston Moore rambling to the camera. 12 years later at the film screening Q&A Thurston says that he felt obliged to help out the filmmaker to find something interesting. It’s a pity as its infuriating boring and it could explain why Kim and Thurston finally parted ways!

It also would have been great to hear and watch a significant chunk of the warbling sounds of Sonic Youth experimenting with noise improvisations as they tend to do live. I for one could never get enough of Kim Gordon using her heels to play fuzz on her bass, its bloody awesome!

The DVD is available complete with remastered audio and restored picture, and 40 minutes of bonus footage – mainly of Sonic Youth. Get it and go back in time, before 90’s punk broke!

* Unfortunately I was not in Austin, I just watched Dave’s keynote on YouTube 😦

Further Exploration:

Other samples you might enjoy:


About noisynoodle

I am a noisy noodle hailing from Melbourne, Australia who loves listening to noise in all forms, but preferably in music, TV and film. I’ve moonlighted on community radio at SYN-FM many years ago when I was still a “youth”. My mission is to promote live music (get off your bum and see something!), highlight interesting TV shows that are ignored by the ratings, expose some cool films and to not go deaf trying!

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