Teen A Go Go – DVD Review
If you grew up, or came of age, in the sixties then this documentary will let you feel a bit better about getting on in years. Using current interviews and all of the archival 8MM film and ephemera they could locate the producers take us back to the halcyon days of garage bands, sock hops, battles of the bands, regional legends, and school dances. It’s a journey worth taking via this breezy eighty one minute film no matter what your age.
Like most of the sixties it was essentially kick started by the Beatles appearances on Ed Sullivan‘s weekly television show. This was the beginning of the post JFK world for our generation. Not everyone could be Elvis, but if you had friends and could play an instrument you could call yourself a band. Music hasn’t taken a step back since. We may not like where it goes sometimes, but it has never been in retreat thanks to those few magical Sunday evenings.
After opening with some quick sound bytes by former members of local bands from different parts of the country we settle on the local Fort Worth, Texas scene of the sixties and from there it narrows to a couple of the legendary venues, most specifically the Teen A Go Go club. That really doesn’t matter because your mind will inevitably drift back to those basement halls, church annexes, roller rinks, and VFW halls that bands would rent in your own town. Those bands where you likely knew somebody either from school, church or scouting. Bands that featured neighborhood kids wielding guitars just like the bands on the Ed Sullivan Show did. The bands may not have gotten very far with their careers but for a brief shining moment they held a crowd in their sway. And chances are you were there.
As someone who is a sucker for this era and any type of documentation from it, this film gets two lighters up! All of the new interviews are interesting and the band members couldn’t be more gracious recounting their place in the scene. There are no hard feelings and no egos chewing up valuable film time. Local radio personalities, fans and club owners help connect the dots. Like any great documentary it transcends its subject matter and becomes engrossing even if you’re not a huge music fan. You will revel in the stories and experiences of the people telling the tale. It’s like sitting around in the backyard sharing some memories with old friends.
Don’t get the impression that it’s all dry interviews, it’s not. There are tons of film clips, photos, and of course music. Thanks to satellite radio, and most notably, Little Steven’s Underground Garage, you may even recognize a few of the artists. The scene eventually spawned a CD series of rare singles both released and unreleased. My friend Greil Marcus likes to talk about the “secret history of the twentieth century” with regard to music. I need to tell him that I might have just found it.
Here’s a link to the website for the film where you can view an extended trailer.