Government Issue: HarDCore Day's Night: DVD

Nov 19, 2008

Three live shows from the legendary D.C. outfit are presented here. It’s an excellent overview of the band. John Stabb (vocals) and Tom Lyle (guitar) are joined by various band members over the group’s lifespan. But what matters here are the visual aspects of Government Issue that are presented, and how the songs emotionally translate to a DVD. The results are simply jaw-dropping. The first concert is from D.C. in 1982. The camera captures the cramped confines of the now-gone WilsonCenter so well that you may catch a few spare beads of sweat in your eyes. This lineup included Marc Alberstadt on drums and Mitch Parker on bass. A cool twist in this segment is the filmmaker points out various D.C. area musicians as they catapult in and out of frame.

The second show is from Philly in 1983 where the crowd has a little more breathing room. The director gives this show a more fuzzed-out look, but it is still pretty intense. Mike Fellows (later to join Rites Of Spring) was on bass for this one. Check out the punk rock couple who brave certain bodily harm by sitting onstage during the set!

The last segment is from a University Of Pennsylvania show in 1989. Stabb and Lyle are joined by J. Robbins (Jawbox, Channels) on bass and Pete Moffett (Wool, Burning Airlines) on drums. Having produced two of GI’s most polished records—You and Crash—they would go out with a bang on one of their last shows. For my money, this is the best lineup of the band, and the filmmaker is able to capture this quite well. Lots of different camera angles make this my favorite part of the DVD. As my brother put it after watching this (he is just starting to get into punk rock): “The first shows proved they were a good band. The last show proved they should have been a famous band.” Well put. In any event, this is a fantastic release showing why this band was one of the best hardcore bands to come from that era, bar none. –Sean Koepenick (Dr. Strange, PO Box 1058, Alta Loma, CA91701)