IT'S TRUE, I wasn't there. But You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977-1984 makes me feel like I was. The documentary, from filmmakers Joe Losurdo and Christina Tillman, is an exhaustive but never exhausting look at the Windy City when dozens of bands—some excellent, some execrable—staked their claim on the burgeoning punk movement. It's quite simply one of the best music documentaries I've ever seen, uncovering every corner of an obscure musical period, expertly plumbing a narrative course through all its overlapping threads, and celebrating both the scene's strengths and weaknesses. It also doesn't shy away from stirring up old beefs (everyone still wants to kick Steve Albini's ass, apparently).
You Weren't There screens—for free!—on Monday, April 26, as part of Jackpot Records' annual film festival at the Hollywood Theatre. And You Weren't There might not even be the best part of Jackpot's lineup this year, considering the legendary The T.A.M.I. Show kicks off the festival on Thursday, April 22. That 1964 concert film includes the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, and Marvin Gaye at their most youthful, but the cherry is an absolutely jaw-dropping performance from James Brown.
Thursday, April 29 sees a rare live performance by outsider legend Jandek (see next week's music section), while Psych Night—a collection of alternately trippy and campy clips from the '60s and '70s—returns Tuesday, April 27, preceded by the slight, short doc Cracking the Egg: The Untold Story of the Nightcrawlers. Meanwhile, Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie closes out the festival on Friday, April 30, followed by a Q&A with director Dianna Dilworth; unfortunately, Mellodrama, which examines the complicated analog-tape keyboard, misses its mark by a mile, appealing to only the palest of studio nerds. Still, with You Weren't There and T.A.M.I. this year, we're reminded that the festival—and the record store that's responsible—is among the things that make Portland so incredible.