Despite what our local radio stations may lead you to believe, San Diego isn’t all chill vibes laid on thick by Sublime, Jack Johnson and 311. We have a vibrant underground music history that’s not as sunny as our palm trees might suggest.
It’s documented in “It’s Gonna Blow: San Diego’s Music Underground, 1986-1996.” The film, directed by local filmmaker Bill Perrine, narrates our city’s roots in the hardcore and punk music scene in all its violent, thrashing glory. San Diego was on the cusp of musical greatness, on par with Seattle during its grunge era. That was thanks in large part to bands like Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Heavy Vegetable, Trumans Water and Unbroken and venues like The Casbah and the Che Café.
But then, something happened – or rather, nothing happened. All these amazingly talented artists were on the brink of mainstream popularity, but couldn’t quite break through. San Diego was stuck with Blink 182 and Jewel as the musical ambassadors to America’s Finest City. No slight to Blink and Jewel, but no. Just no.
The documentary provides an in-depth narrative through the city’s exciting, effervescent history in underground music. The film is insightful and funny with a DIY quality that suits it perfectly.
“I hope people enjoyed it!” Perrine said to me after a screening at Victory Theater last week. “I can’t look at the damn thing anymore so I was out back smoking. I’m just really happy to see people come out. It’s a big reunion.”
And it was. Many of the musicians featured in the film were at the sold-out screening, laughing and hollering at parts that were especially memorable. The vibe was similar to the one throbbing at last month’s Drive Like Jehu show at Balboa Park, where we all knew we were witnessing something special, and that our rebellious youth was getting the recognition it deserves.