Capital Gifts 2014: The Ultimate D.C. Punk Collection

by Tori Kerr
December 4th, 2014

Maybe you’ve got a young sibling who just discovered punk. While her Ramones t-shirt is cute, you want to point her in the right direction so she doesn’t become a Hot Topic mallrat. Or, perhaps your dad is an old-school punk enthusiast who didn’t “get” your pop-punk posters in high school. Or, you know your boss went to high school in the D.C. area in 1984. Cover your butt for each of these scenarios with an array of items, creating the ultimate D.C. punk gift bonanza.

Among D.C.’s multiple musical personalities, none has been part of a larger cultural conversation as much as punk and hardcore. Between @FortRenoRumors, the D.C. Public Library’s new punk archive, and approximately one million (actually three) documentaries, it’s safe to say that punk won D.C. this year. A great way to commemorate that is with Fugazi’s First Demo, a “new” release from the incomparable Dischord Records. The album features 11 of the rawest tracks we’ve ever heard from one of D.C.’s greatest bands. The best part is that no matter if your gift receiver is a new or old Fugazi fan, First Demo will either complete his collection or get him started at the beginning.

Follow that with documentary Positive Force: More Than A Witness, which chronicles the history of the legendary activist coalition. The film explores Positive Force’s early days: hosting a “Revolution Summer,” protesting Apartheid; taking on the riot grrrl movement; and through it all, creating real change in practical, inspiring ways. The DIY ethic that runs through punk music’s veins also sustains Positive Force, its founder, Mark Andersen and the film’s director, Robin Bell. All proceeds from the film benefit the We Are Family senior outreach network. When you gift this, your gift benefits not only your loved one, but hundreds of seniors throughout The District.

Top off this punk cornucopia with the Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital, a written history of D.C. punk, by Andersen and journalist Mark Jenkins. The authors trace the scene from frustrated teenagers’ homes in suburban Georgetown to the (original) 9:30 Club, to the Reeves Center, to the West Coast, and beyond. The authors chronicle the good and the bad, treating both with equal intrigue: the rise and fall of Bad Brains; straightedge; bloody fights between D.C. punks and out-of-towners; and the struggle against homophobic and fascist punks who threatened to topple an otherwise progressive movement. It’s a must-read for any punk fan, especially one who lives in the area.

With this trifecta complete, your grateful gift-receivers will be happily busy for weeks, engaging in a sort of ethnographic study of one of the strongest facets of this city’s heritage.

Back to Robin Bell’s Artist Page