DANCES WITH FILMS 2021 REVIEW! I saw The Briggs perform in Hollywood in 2008. I was there to see the headliner, old school punk band The Adolescents, and had never heard of the opener. I remembered being impressed by their energy and noted that most of the crowd knew all the words to their songs. But they were new punk, for which I am too old to truck with. That punk is different than my punk, with the tattoos being fatter and the band exposure wider.
It turns out The Briggs had been playing for most of the noughties, touring with Bad Religion, Flogging Molly, and The Dropkick Murphys while also playing four Vans Warped tours. They also wrote “This is L.A.,” which is the song that opens the home games for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. Not too shabby. Twenty years after The Briggs released their first album, director Kevin James Barry helmed Gridlocked: On Tour with The Briggs. So if you were down with The Briggs back in the day, then lucky you, that day has come back again.
The film captures the 2015 west coast tour with old-school hardcore band 7 Seconds. At this point, The Briggs hasn’t been active as a band for several years, with many members having families. This is the backdrop for one of the more truthful and demystifying rock tour documentaries to be released. We get to see the secret goings-on of tours. That secret being there is no sex or drugs at all. Instead, you have images of tatted-up, pierced punk rockers late at night shopping at Walmart or sitting around at Denny’s.
“…captures the 2015 west coast tour with old-school hardcore band 7 Seconds.”
Gridlocked: On Tour with The Briggs lets us in on the punk rockers talking to their children on the phone… a lot. It is this revealing of the mundane skeleton of rock tours that makes the live scenes explode. Sometimes The Briggs jump around so much during their shows it seems like someone turned the gravity off. But once offstage, they turn into normal guys, with a refreshing lack of posturing or self-importance. Here, Barry delivers something special: a documentary that is free of the rock and roll fantasy. Instead of young gods at play, we are presented with exhausted people that spend endless hours working to reach that moment when the music is unleashed. And what a show! Age has not slowed these guys down. I couldn’t tell any difference between their energy on these shows versus the one I saw years earlier. Further evidence that you are never too old to rock.
The film will be treasured by fans of The Briggs as well as fans of new school punk. Those looking for further history into their origins or past heyday will not find it here. I am curious about the story behind the band’s name and how it fits into the pirate imagery of their skull and anchor logo. I would have also loved some more insight into the influences of old-school punk on new. I noticed all the band members were wearing t-shirts of very old school punk outfits, namely The Boys, The Dead Boys, and The Toy Dolls, who were the Green Day of Oi! back in the day with “Nellie the Elephant,” one of the highest-charting Oi! singles in history.
However, that elusive bridge between the schools does not appear in Gridlocked: On Tour with The Briggs. And that is okay. It is not this film’s job to explain the appeal of new school punk to cranky old punks. However, if you grew up on new school punk, you will love what Barry offers, as you get to see how new school punk has grown up with you.
Gridlocked: On Tour with The Briggs screened at the 2021 Dances With Films.
"…one of the more truthful and demystifying rock tour documentaries to be released."