Piss on You: Winnipeg’s Early Punk Scene: DVD Directed by Katheryn Martin

Dec 13, 2018

I am a huge fan of localized punk scene documentaries, especially Canadian ones. Here, we have a historic retelling of how punk started in Winnipeg, Manitoba. For those not in the know, Winnipeg is one of Canada’s most remote major cities. It’s long prairie drives in every direction until the next city center. The fact that so many punk rock heavy hitters came out of the city is a wonder on its own. Having seen similar documentaries on other cities such as Vancouver and Victoria, it is telling how the Canadian punk rock experience is surprisingly similar from coast to coast.

The story goes like this. A few social outcasts hear about something called “punk rock” in the news, later discover the sounds of the Ramones, Sex Pistols, or The Clash, decide they can do it, too, and now you have a scene. In Winnipeg, early bands such as Le Kille and The Nostrils gave rise to internationally known bands such as Stretch Marks, The Unwanted, and the indomitable Personality Crisis.

The film takes us on a tour of 1970s Winnipeg—of sketchy bars that would allow punk and sketchier punk houses that bred bands almost as fast as they bred dysentery. (That is a bit of a fallacy. The most legendary punk house was named The House of Beep because everyone who lived there drank copious amounts of a sugary, Canadian orange drink called Beep in an attempt to keep their vitamin C intake up to avoid scurvy and the like.) There is plenty of quality archival footage from shows as well as a local access TV program that featured underground music.

All of the bands involved have at least one member talking on camera, as well as the requisite appearance of DOA’s Joey Shithead. If you are unaware of Personality Crisis, just stop and search them out now. Now that your mind is blown, continue on. The footage on PC and Stretch Marks is brilliant for sure, but I was really excited to learn about previously unheard of (by me) bands like The Ruggedy Annes and Dub Rifles. The film flows well and doesn’t repeat itself too much. It provided a good look at a punk rock community that is rarely heard about in the larger scheme of things. I like that. Apparently the disc is hard to come by, but well worth the search. –Ty Stranglehold (No address listed)