‘One Nine Nine Four’ Review

This documentary sensibly starts out stating that it is not about the origins of punk music or concerned with what exactly makes a band ‘punk’ or not. Its aims are simply to tell the story of the rise of several Californian punk rock bands in the 1990s.

There are many familiar faces and names, members of Bad Religion, NOFX, The Offspring, Rancid, Green Day, Pennywise and Blink-182 are all featured. Many of which also appeared in other recent punk documentaries such as ‘Punk’s Not Dead’ and ‘The Other F Word’, fans of which should enjoy this too.

Starting with the lack of punk music in the late 1980s, it covers the success of the Epitaph label, bands gaining exposure through surf/skate videos, to Alternative rock’s explosion onto the mainstream in 1991 eventually leading to Green Day and The Offspring having huge mainstream success.

(The Offspring were the first Rock band I got into. I remember first hearing ‘Americana’ not long after it came out and thinking that it was the first album on which I liked every single track. This led me to quickly get all the band’s previous albums including their landmark 1995 release ‘Smash’. It’s one of those few albums I could probably sing every song off from memory)

There’s not a lot of story here that hasn’t been told before, though there are a number of amusing anecdotes and it’s very welcoming to hear some of the musicians sharing stories about pre-fame times. They do all seem genuine when they say how much they never expected the level of success they achieved.

Surprisingly the film does not feature a huge amount of music. Most of the songs are just used as backing for the interviews, with the occasional, brief performance clip thrown in. It does seem to be made for people already familiar with all the music, and I’m not sure how well it would work as an introduction for those unfamiliar with its subjects. Still though, it’s a nostalgic and fun look back at noteworthy period in rock music history.

Most of the footage here was apparently filmed several years ago but due to song rights issues it’s never seen a proper release. It’s just gone up on youtube for free viewing. I don’t know how long it will stay there but you can see it now here.

3/5

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