Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Screening Review: URGH! A MUSIC WAR at the Nitehawk Cinema


Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema was the setting for a rare, 35MM screening of the 1981 concert film URGH! A MUSIC WAR during the weekend of January 18th, 2013. This original film version is shorter than its mid-80s VHS release, which added several more bands, including INVISIBLE SEX, PERE UBU, JOHN COOPER CLARKE, ALTHELTICO SPIZZO 80, CHELSEA, THE MEMBERS, and an incredible performance by JOHN OTWAY. But even with these great scenes missing, this original version still features an abundance of unique alternative and punk acts.

Among the better performances is GANG OF FOUR doing 'He'd Send in the Army,' where their guitarist uses his screechy facial expressions to get as much sound out of his instrument as his hands; GARY NUMAN riding around his epic space-aged stage in his astro-car for 'Down in the Park'; DEVO doing 'Uncontrollable Urge' in hilarious jump-sync fashion as their drummer plays at lightning speed; Jello Biafra's opening dialogue for 'Bleed For Me' made the DEAD KENNEDY's performance one of the film's most memorable, and THE CRAMPS 'Tear it Up' as singer Lux Interior goes absolutely crazy.

KLAUS NOMI's 'Total Eclipse of the Sun' is a real spectacle, while an early clip of THE GO-GO's doing 'We've Got the Beat' features an unusually over-weight Belinda Carlisle. The film print was quite worn, and despite almost burning up during X's song, the picture looked good and the sound was very good.

While I missed JOHN COOPER CLARKE's hilarious poem and PERE UBU's mind-bending 'Birdies,' I must give a hats off to the Nitehawk for continuing to provide us midnight movie fans with a nearly endless supply of different choices. Hopefully they'll bring this one back.
-Nick Cato


The late, great KLAUS NOMI performs at the Ritz in NYC for URGH! A MUSIC WAR

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