Agnostic Front; The Godfathers of Hardcore

Released: 2017
Director: Ian McFarland
Cast: Roger Miret, Vinnie Stigma, Agnostic Front
Genre: Documentary
Film Rating: 3.5/5

I know the band Agnostic Front and I am aware of the music they play as  I have listened to them for a long time and am influenced by them so I know how important they are. I share their independent philosophy and I love the way they play, however, this film came across as a bit dull. I think it’s the pacing to be honest.

The focus seems to be quite, er, schmaltz …is that the right word? Too much staring into the camera with strings going on in the background. I guess the director didn’t want this to be another ‘noisy mess’ of a film, despite the band could be described as a noisy mess – but the pace of the whole thing seems wrong.

There’s unfettered access to the lives and loves of the two main men – singer Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma. The dynamic between these two is the reason the band have endured for so long. Problem is there doesn’t seem to be much of them onscreen together unless it’s live, so you never really get the chance to see this dynamic in action.

For fans it’s a definite ‘must watch’ as you’ll see some great footage of the band playing in rooms full of like-minded people at the birth of the New York hardcore scene. You’ll get a little insight into what the band were trying to achieve, what their philosophy was and how people needed something real as rock was becoming another victim of 80’s greed. But, there’s just not enough of anything of any substance.

We follow the band on their latest tour, hang out with them at home, see footage from the early days with interviews and voice-overs. We see them starting families in squats, follow Vinnie around as he bitches about the new New York scene and we get a few family members having a chat, but I don’t feel I learnt anything new here and there was no substance to any of this.

Too much in it? Maybe.
Too many story arcs? Maybe.
Or just too much staring into the camera when they could be talking to bands that AF influenced or changed. At least that way we’d get a true impact this band had on punk, rock and thrash.

It’s nice to see how people are living their lives after 30-odd years at the forefront of such a principled and ideologically driven scene and these two are doing OK. There’s no sell out, no companies and they both seem to be making a few quid without conforming to the mainstream.

That lesson alone is a reason to watch this, as I’ve seen bands starting to put themselves in competition with their peers and looking for that elusive ‘deal’, I’d just point them at this and say “Look! You can earn a living making music you love if you don’t act like a twat and treat everyone in the scene with love and respect!’

Agnostic Front and their ilk are, ironically, the reason we have bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Green Day, Rancid and all those massive bands, but they still come across as humble, interesting and well-meaning folk, young bands could learn a lot from them.

Review by Polly Phluid