Normally Amanda would write a post about music, but sometimes when you’re on the other side of the country with a few hours to kill you find things that spark your creativity. While surfing the Internet for stories about LA hardcore band, Fear I came across a YouTube version of a 2008 documentary called One Nine Nine Four. Written and directed by Jai Al-Atlas, it’s a film that was meant to encapsulate the year 1994 and its effect on Punk Rock and its injection into the mainstream.
One Nine Nine Four perfectly portrays what it was like to be in a band in 1994. Most of these bands were struggling independent artists that had nowhere to play and no one to listen to them. In the late 1980s a buzz started to build in both northern and southern California which led to the punk explosion of the 1990s. One Nine Nine Four shares stories from bands such as: Green Day, The Offspring, NoFx, Rancid, Pennywise, No Use For A Name, The Vandals, Blink 182, and Bad Religion. It’s a fun drive down memory lane as many of we late-20 somethings and 30 somethings remember the mid 1990s with great nostalgia. It’s also narrated by Tony Hawk, so that’s also pretty cool.
Punk Rock is a fascinating breed of music. It began in the 1970s in a collection of places like Detroit, NYC, and London. It then started to pop up in Southern California and spread throughout the country. However, by the early 1980s Punk had died and was replaced by heavy metal. The bands discuss what it was like trying to book shows during the mid 1980s and how difficult it was to create a true punk club. Punk was violent, and often shut clubs down before they could get a foothold.
This documentary is fantastic. It gives the viewer what they want. Real interviews with these musicians and what got them where they are now. You gather what it was like to be in these bands during this time period and they’re very straight and to-the-point about their art-style. It uses a collection of bands from different parts of California and there is still a bit of rivalry between the Bay Area and Southern Cali. It’s great to see these bands boast about their hometowns and challenge each other a bit.
One Nine Nine Four is a great history lesson for those who are interested in the time period. As a fan of the music and the 1990s I was glued to my tiny iPhone screen while watching. I tend to know a lot about the era but this documentary cleared up some grey areas and also taught me some things I never knew before. It’s a great testament to what the mid-late 1990s were all about and if you have eighty minutes take a watch. There are a lot of Punk Rock documentaries out there (The Other F Word, comes to mind), but this one is more of a history lesson than a “day in the life”. Check it out! And when you’re done go and watch NoFx’s Backstage Passport.
If you want to watch it on YouTube check it out here: