Nightclubbing: The Birth of Punk Rock in NYC review – where the party started | Film
On the site of what is now a CVS pharmacy on Park Avenue South was one of New York’s most legendary venues: Max’s Kansas City. In the late 1960s and 1970s it became the hotbed and center of glam rock and then punk, with all sorts of celebrities, artists and notables – including, of course, Andy Warhol, the Zelig of so many different American artists. Danny Garcia’s documentary even says that Federico Fellini went there too, but gives no details, and incidentally leaves the mystery of how he got the name intact.
Max’s was legendary for the music, the drugs, the fights, the silliness, the excitement, the horrible toilets. Major rival club CBGB survived it by decades but Max’s seems to have an equally important place in the Valhalla of musical memory. Garcia has some great new footage and live material to show that the bands playing night after night, including New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, Bruce Springsteen and Alice Cooper, were pretty amazing. There’s also some very entertaining interview material, particularly with the acidic Jayne County set to be brought to the UK to appear on Celebrity Gogglebox immediately.
It’s another movie that will leave you sighing for ’70s New York’s lost golden age of gritty reality, creativity, and danger. And just like Matt Tyrnauer’s recent documentary on Studio 54, it delicately touches on a subject that another type of director, taking a different approach, could make the whole subject of the film: the connection between clubs and crime. There were dark rumors about a counterfeit currency operation in the basement, involving former owner Tommy Dean Mills: laundering $1 bills in blank, then photocopying $100 bills using of the new generation of Xerox machines. What is the truth behind this anecdote? Anyway…that was the time.