In Kill Your Idols director Scott Crary attempts to find some connection between No Wave bands of the late 1970s like Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, Suicide and Swans with contemporary post-punkers Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Black Dice, Liars and others. The link is too tenuous to stand up to close scrutiny, but the movie is fascinating none-the-less for its exciting archival footage and compelling interviews with New York City’s avant-garde old guard. Listening to Lydia Lunch’s bilious rant about rock and roll’s new breed of hipster bands as a “pandering bunch of mama’s boys” who are “desperate to have their music used in the next car commercial” is a hoot. As are similarly contemptuous critques from Lee Ranaldo and Arto Lindsey.
Contrasting the newer bands with their older influences hits a resonant chord when DNA’s Lindsey describes the 1970’s NYC scene as an era when “we didn’t have a whole industry selling us back to ourselves.” This is the significant difference between creating and re-creating. In their self-consciousness, the new bands lack the vision, fearlessness and recklessness that no-wave’s pioneers brought to the mix every time they stepped on stage. It is impossible to replicate the “shock of the new.” Nothing seems dangerous anymore because everything has been radiated in the pasteurizing glow of our retro-obsessed culture. Rock and roll is disappearing up its own asshole. It wasn’t always this way. With every note, No Wave hit the self-destruct button. Gone. This doesn’t mean that the new groups aren’t good - I love Yeah Yeah Yeahs - but trying to find the link between them and the original no wavers is like trying to find fingerprints on water.
Update: The numbnut who uploaded Kill Your Idols pulled the movie from their Youtube channel. If you have a Netflix account, it is available to stream here.