Home > Documentary, Film Festivals, Film Reviews > Bad Brains: A Band in DC

Bad Brains: A Band in DC


Whatever hard-core band that you listen to today; chances are they were inspired by the ground-breaking work of Washington DC’s ‘Bad Brains’. Well, their earlier stuff at least. Bad Brains is a documentary that traces the ample career of the band from their most acclaimed early hard-core punk rock, to their eventual fusion with reggae.

Intended as a tribute to the careers of the Bad Brains members, the film is eventually overshadowed by the rapid decline in frontman H.R’s (Human Rights) sanity. Beginning as a talented singer and performer, we witness the eventual mood swings, violent outbursts, drugged out rants and displays of disrespect towards the band and fans. Although these outbursts are entertaining at first, they soon become dark and disturbing, as we witness just how tormented and deranged this man has become.

The most interesting element of this documentary was the casual portrayal of the history of punk rock and hard-core music as a then developing genre. There is homage paid to The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, and many more of the greats. Throughout this portrayal, the Bad Brains remain humbled about the magnitude of their own influence, with the exception of H.R.’s megalomania and nods from their friends, The Beastie Boys and Henry Rollins (to name just a few!).

This film is a must-see, not just for punk rock and reggae fans, but for all music fans curious about the evolution of this genre and the full story of an epic, undervalued and underappreciated band.


Bad Brains probably won’t be showing in a cinema near you, so I suggest you get yourself to the Sydney Underground Film Festival screening, this Friday the 7th of September at The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Tickets are a measly $12 – $14 bucks and you can buy them… here.

Trivia: In 1979, Bad Brains were banned from many live music and performance venues in Washington D.C, forcing them to relocate to New York.

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