Blank City: The TVD Preview & Giveaway

Mention “New York” and “mid-to-late 70s” to most readers of The Vinyl District, and you’ll likely spark endless smiles and more than a few conversations about some of the most influential and significant figures in alternative music history: Patti Smith, Talking Heads, The Ramones, Blondie, Television, etc.

Not as well known though are the incendiary underground artists that comprised the highly contrarian No Wave post-punk music scene—the subject of the critically acclaimed new documentary film Blank City, which begins its exclusive one week engagement in Washington, DC on Friday, June 17 at the E Street Cinema (555 11th St., NW).

So what was the No Wave scene? That’s not a question that can be answered succintly. Highly contrarian acts such as Mars, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, DNA, the Contortions and Theoretical Girls viewed the city’s punk rock sounds as too conservative, relying too much on rock and pop conventions for comfort. Though there really wasn’t a uniform musical style for No Wave, these bands often shared similar predilections for abrasive atonality, primitive rhythms, harrowing vocals, and jarring textures.

During his two album tenure with Roxy Music and much of his 70s solo work, Brian Eno had often tested the boundaries of the pop and rock format via his use of strange sound manipulations and avant-garde impulses. It’s not surprising then that Eno became intrigued by the No Wave artists and ended up producing what became the scene’s defining recording: No New York. (the compilation featured four of the scene’s most noteworthy artists: Contortions, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Mars and DNA.)

As the Blank City documentary shows us, music was just one aspect of the No Wave scene. Many of the musicians were also filmmakers and performers, serving as a key creative driving force behind the No Wave Cinema scene. Like its musical counterpart, No Wave cinema rejected professionalism in favor of a stripped down, guerilla/DIY approach. Mood and texture trumped story line and narrative. The movement marked a new era of independent filmmaking, launching the careers of Jim Jarmusch, Tom DiCillo, Steve Buscemi and Vincent Gallo.

Directed by Celine Danhier, Blank City includes interviews with many of the key players of the late 70s no wave music and cinema scenes, including Steve Buscemi, John Waters, Thurston Moore, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, and Jim Jarmusch. The film continues to get glowing reviews, with notable write-ups in Variety, The New York Times, L.A. Times, Time Out New York and The Hollywood Reporter, to name just a few.

Make sure you see the film during its exclusive one-week engagement in DC! Also, we wanted to tell you that Dodge City (917 U St. NW) is hosting a special Blank City after party this Saturday evening! The bar will be offering drink specials for people with a Blank City ticket stub. There will be killer dj sets by Blank City director Celine Danhier, No Wave author Marc Masters and the We Fought The Big One DJs! The afterparty runs from 9pm to 3am. There’s no cover but you gotta be at least 21 (sorry kids!)

And on Sunday, E Street will be hosting a special Q & A session with Celine Danhier and Marc Masters at the 6pm screening. Don’t miss it!

TVD has a pair of tickets to give away to one winner which are good for any screening of Blank City at the E Street Cinema from Monday, 6/20 – Thursday, 6/23. Our one winner will also receive a signed copy of the film poster seen at the top of this post. The poster is signed by the doc’s interviewees, Jim Jarmusch, Steve Buscemi, Thurston Moore, Fab 5 Freddy, and more

Enter to win by telling us your favorite New York punk band of all time in the comments to this post. Winners will be selected on Friday (6/17) at 3PM and notified via e-mail.

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