Judge Daryl Loomis wonders if it's creepy that he still attends sock hops.
If you were booked at an A-Go-Go, you were a star.
In February of 1964, Ed Sullivan introduced the United States to four young scofflaws who called themselves The Beatles. After a few minutes, every teenager in the country had a new goal: be those guys. Thousands started bands and some even got good enough to get some local bookings. This was the first generation of young rockers to practice in their garages, trying to get on stage, get the girls, and make it big. It was the start of a rock and roll revolution.
Teen A-Go-Go focuses on the heady time after the British Invasion, but before Woodstock brought the hippies to the headlines. Bands sprang up nationwide, but the film focuses on one particularly special outcropping of teen bands: Fort Worth, Texas. Unlikely as that place might seem, music was a very relevant part of the culture of the area and remains that way today. Across the area, teenagers did one of two things: they got together to form their own bands or they waited for those bands to get practiced and go dance all night at the A-Go-Gos, teen-exclusive clubs that sprang up all over the city.
Local Fort Worth director Melissa Kirkendall takes on the story in this documentary that is as much a nostalgia-fest as a study of a time or place. That isn't a bad thing at all, as Teen A-Go-Go is a perfectly enjoyable way to spend eighty minutes and, having lived in the area for a long time now, personally interesting to see the old footage of Fort Worth. Plus, seeing 12-year-olds behind drum kits is always funny. Current interviews with the people who played in these bands take up most of the film's running time and archival footage of the bands in action fills out the rest. It's a totally endearing film that doesn't do a whole lot, but doesn't need to. It celebrates something beautiful: kids getting together to make rock and roll.
From Cinema Libre, Teen A-Go-Go is not the DVD it could be, but it does the job. It's a cheap production and the image looks it. The new interviews look barely better than local access programming and the archival footage looks understandably dilapidated. The film is really not about visual fidelity at all though, so I'm really not concerned about it. The sound is quite a bit better, anyway, and that's a lot more important. The old recordings sound good and the interviews are perfectly audible. Extras include some extra footage telling a few more stories that could easily have been included in the final film and a brief interview with the director and producer that gives a little background on the production.
Teen A-Go-Go doesn't look deeply at the era or make any big statements about the scene. It's just a nostalgic look back at an obscure slice of youth history and there's nothing wrong with that at all. Anyone who spent any time as a kid rocking out with their friends in the garage will get a big kick out of this.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Libre
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