I have seen burning busloads of punk rock documentaries, but I have never seen one like Brian Bieber’s I Really Get Into It: The Underage Architects of Sioux Falls Punk. Many of these docs are filled with concert footage from back in the day mixed with the musicians talking about their ride on the wave. Those interviewed by Bieber are also the audience, as many of the kids in the Sioux Falls punk scene started bands. The focus isn’t so much the music as it was the community that grew around it, a midwestern mini-empire of high school weirdos. This is the story about a scene built and operated by underage kids, resulting in the weirdest message of a punk rock doc: Punk rock is a wholesome ingredient to your children’s development.
There is much that needs to be said about the midwest punk scenes of the 1980s and 90s. I remember constantly hearing back then that the best punk city in the USA wasn’t on either coast but right in the middle: Kansas City. This occurred due to the van-level economics of punk touring, with day drives between cities and bands sleeping on fan’s floors. Places like Sioux Falls made good stops to play when traveling the vastness of the West outside of Minneapolis.
Bieber shows how 15-year-olds started booking these acts for rented halls, all themselves. This resulted in several bands that would later be huge, making several stops in Sioux Falls to play for a room of young misfits. Some directors would have made this the centerpiece of the study, as it is impressive that you could stand three feet away from Green Day or The Offspring for $4.
“…15-year-olds started booking these acts for rented halls, all themselves.”
However, the democratic nature of I Really Get Into It: The Underage Architects of Sioux Falls Punk shows footage of these bands mixed right in with many other punk bands that never got on the radio. I spotted Nation of Ulysses, who I saw at a punk show in ’91 with Bikini Kill and Ani DiFranco. Two of those acts changed my life. Guess which two.
Many of the show organizers also managed to start bands themselves and promote both, all pre-internet. That all this was done on Xerox and landline technology by underage children is remarkable, and the film zeros in on that. The now-adults Beiber interviews keep mentioning that these all-ages shows provided a safe haven for teenagers who did not fit in anywhere else.
Ironically, the city made several attempts to shut down the punk rock venues, even resorting to digging up laws from the 1930s that banned dancing when minors were present. I have seen firsthand what underage shows in non-licensed underground venues look like, and it is f*****g dangerous. Overcrowded houses with few fire exits, drunks in charge, and in one instance, a guy juggling real swords while balancing on a big rubber ball. We not only see how the responsibility of organizing shows helped develop and mature these kids, but we also get to see the positive impact it is having on their children as well. Footage of little girls wanting loud guitars and pretending to be mommy going to practice is adorable.
I Really Get Into It: The Underage Architects of Sioux Falls Punk needs to be commended for its excellent obscure music. I didn’t know any of the songs, but that didn’t stop the choices from sounding great and setting the beat. The incredible soundtrack increases the muscular pace, as does the starchy animation. There is even a knockout credits sequence featuring a hilarious Screeching Weasel story at a pizza restaurant that is basically the real-life Willy’s Wonderland. This worthy debut exposes the other side of the safety pin and shows how the music of the damned was many kids’ salvation.
"…shows how the music of the damned was many kids' salvation."