Hardcore Norfolk: A Story of Rock’n’Roll Survival: DVD

Feb 02, 2015

Where’s Norfolk? About two hours from Richmond. You know, where bands like Avail and GWAR and Strike Anywhere are from, where all the best bands find a way to play while on tour. Not that many made the ninety-mile detour from the Richmond-to-Chapel-Hill route, but if they had they would have found some crazy kids making music despite the conservative, military nature of the town.

I will admit that I am a little biased because I first got to know Hardcore Norfolk back in 1984, when I bought my first punk rock records at a Skinnies, a Norfolk record store that has refused to die. There were flyers for shows at a place called Connection Hall. Hardcore Norfolk was a loose-knit group of friends who put on shows, played shows, and went to shows at this place in the back of a beauty parlor. I was a few years from getting my driver’s license and I lived in Virginia Beach, the next town over. The venue was in a “bad” neighborhood so forget a ride from the parental unit or anyone else’s parental units. Bus service was a joke. I had no hope of going. The venue closed a few years later but the music didn’t stop.

Hardcore or punk bands make up about two-third of the music featured here. The movie chronicles all kinds of self-promoted music in Norfolk, starting in the late ‘50s.Shiptown Records was Norfolk’s answer to Motown. There was a lively soul music scene along Church Street, with clubs that embraced black performers during the era of de facto segregation. In the ‘60s, Norfolk had more sailors than hippies and several rockers refined their chops while in Vietnam. A jangle-pop band called Waxing Poetics and indie-rockers Antic Hay from the late 1980s and early ‘90s also get a fair bit of coverage.

In the 1980s, Virginia Beach aggressively banned backyard skateboard ramps so a committed group of skaters got the first public vert ramp built at MountTrashmore. At that time skateboarding was punk’s gateway drug, so a lively scene grew up around skateboarding, with bands like The Faction and JFA making that ninety-mile detour.

Probably the most well-known band featured here is The Candy Snatchers, who toured extensively and got themselves on the cover of Maximum Rock’n’roll in the late 1990s. Of course, this film can’t be everything to everybody so some bands are left out and some maybe get too much time, but that’s the nature of music documentaries.

This was a great trip down memory lane for me but what if you are one of those people who don’t know that it’s pronounced “Nawfuk”? The story of Hardcore Norfolk is your story if you grew up in a shitty town, lived for music, and hung out with the few people who understood you. –Lisa Weiss (hardcorenorfolk.com, [email protected])