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pogo2posterFINAL2The Last Pogo Jumps Again studies the evolution of Toronto from small town to big city and it’s pop/counter-culture lifestyle during the early and mid-70s.  It centers around the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new-wave music, from the Ramones playing the New Yorker Theatre in ’76 through the police shutting down Teenage Head and causing a riot at the Horseshoe Tavern’s infamous “The Last Pogo” concert in December 1978.

London had the Sex Pistols, New York had the Ramones, but Toronto had a punk movement all it’s own.  The Toronto landscape by the late ’70s was forever changed with the infusion of the DIY/Punk/Alternative Culture(s) movement.  Six years in the making, The Last Pogo Jumps Again successfully explores the whys and wherefores of what was arguably one of the most exciting but misunderstood movements in Toronto’s history.

The DVD contains the 204 minute documentary, plus over a 100 minutes of added material, and a snazzy 24-page booklet.  Check the Shop for details on where you can purchase it.

The Last Pogo (1978) is the documentary that chronicled the last punk rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was run by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys (Topp and Cormier) featuring The Scenics, Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, The Ugly, The Viletones and Teenage Head. The Last Pogo was released on DVD in 2008 to great reviews.  Available at the Shop.

Anarchy in the N.F.B.

Gary Topp at NXNE 2008.  Photo by Albert Lee

The first public screening of The Last Pogo in 28 years closed out the 2008 NXNE Festival in Toronto to a rowdy sell-out crowd. Pogo director Brunton introduced members of the audience who were in bands that played the Last Pogo concert in 1978: Andy Meyers, Ken Badger and Mark Perkell of The Scenics; Vince Carlucci of The Cardboard Brains; David Quinton-Steinberg of The Mods; and Chris Haight of the Viletones and Secrets. Saving the best for last, the final introduction was of legendary Toronto promoter Gary Topp, one-half of The Garys, the guy who brought The Ramones, John Cale, Wayne County, Dead Boys, Talking Heads and way more way cool artists and films and events to Toronto during those heady punk days and beyond, and who has been the most vital, interesting, and eclectic promoter of the arts in Toronto, period. Seriously. If you did nothing else for cultural diversions than attend Gary Topp shows, you’d be doing just swell thank you.

It was awesome to watch The Last Pogo on a big screen; a DVD doesn’t do it justice, and the optical track is so much more richer than the sound that creeps out of a computer. As Brunton told the audience before the lights went down, the last time it was shown properly, on a big screen, was at a Cineplex movie theatre in 1980. Cleverly booking The Last Pogo with another concert film, it pulled in a $100 a week, was shown a dozen times a day — and was unceremoniously yanked from the theatre after two weeks when it continually received, quote “A violent and negative reaction…” unquote from the audience who were paying their five bucks to see the concert film it was opening for – Richard Pryor Live in Concert. Needless to say, the largly urban black audience didn’t take much of a shine to the lily-white/beyond the pale Toronto punk scene. On the other hand, it was apparently a big hit with the ushers and snack-bar kids.

The fact that the screening was literally across the street from the Much Music Video Awards seemed to strengthen the consensus that the music in the film stands up well to the test of time. (Was it because each of the bands in The Last Pogo had distinct unique sounds — or because most if not all of the bands at the MMVA sounded wearily similar? We’ll give it six of one, half-dozen of the other). Like a fine-wine aging for thirty years (or a solid Canadian beer that hasn’t turned skunky), you could imagine any of The Last Pogo bands making an impact these days. If they knew the right people. And kissed the right asses. And wore the right clothes with the right hair-cuts and were the right age and had the right politics and all the wrong right stuff that in 1978 we all properly rebelled againts. Kids these days.

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