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article imageReview: ‘The Last Pogo Jumps Again’ captures a flash in music history Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 24, 2013 in Entertainment
‘The Last Pogo Jumps Again’ is a documentary about the history of the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new wave music from 1976 to 1978.
Toronto’s Queen Street has seen many incarnations over the years, but its current state is very dissimilar from the 1970s landscape. Designer stores have replaced the independent shops that once lined the avenue, though the Horseshoe Tavern has managed to maintain its now historic location. Directed by Colin Brunton, The Last Pogo is a short film shot in Toronto at the Horseshoe Tavern in 1978. The Last Pogo concert was billed as "the last punk rock concert" in Toronto – at least for that original wave of punks circa 1976 to 1978. In The Last Pogo Jumps Again, the director documents an incomplete but comprehensive history of Toronto punk rock during that period.
There was no punk scene in Toronto until The Ramones were booked to play a few gigs at the New Yorker in 1976. Then everything changed; bands adopted the style and musicians assumed the lifestyle. Punk rock became “a place you could go when there was no other place to go.” The Viletones set the scene with the lead singer Steven Leckie taking on the moniker “Nazi Dog” and cutting himself on stage with broken beer bottles. The B-Girls were locally known groupies – or “social facilitators” – that one day decided to pick up instruments, paving the way for even more hard-core all-girl band The Curse. The Diodes were the first local band to sign a record deal, while Hamilton’s Teenage Head became one of the best known punk rockers. Before it fizzled out in 1978, the punk rock scene in Toronto was “big enough to be interesting, but small enough that you knew everyone’s name.”
More than just a chronicle of the city’s culture, it’s also a historic overview of Toronto’s venues. Using an amusing and colourful illustrated map, filmmakers Brunton and Kire Paputts trace the past through the important spaces that helped define their way of life. The Roxy, New Yorker, Beverly Tavern, Colonial Underground, Club Davids and Crash ‘n’ Burn are just some of the locations highlighted. For some viewers, this will be a nostalgic trip down memory lane while for a younger audience the film offers a snapshot of a local phenomenon.
Pared down to 200 minutes, the movie is a mix of recently recorded interviews with band members, fans and other participants; and archival still images and concert footage. Everyone appears to speak frankly about their experiences, examining their contributions to Toronto’s punk scene and sharing their thoughts about their peers. Even though it’s a bit long, the subject is fascinating and probably still only skimming the surface. Toronto punk didn’t really resemble the music of more popular acts, such as NYC’s The Ramones or UK’s Sex Pistols, and the lack of a music industry willing and able to sign these bands to major recording contracts meant most of their music was never heard beyond the city’s borders; so this is a rare opportunity to sample many of these songs while also learning about the context in which they were composed and performed.
The Last Pogo Jumps Again screened as part of the Canadian Music Week Film Festival in Toronto.
Directors: Colin Brunton and Kire Paputts
More about The Last Pogo Jumps Again, The Last Pogo, Cmw, cmw film fest, Teenage Head
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