Bad Brains Documentary Coming to Mad Art This Saturday

click to enlarge Bad Brains are Jah-powered legends.
Bad Brains are Jah-powered legends.

Legendary band Bad Brains was originally called Mind Power, a jazz fusion group inspired by the twin powers of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Napoleon Hill's book on the benefits of positive thinking. When punk first started creeping through the underground, they switched gears. They also got into Bob Marley, and things got interesting.

Changing their name to Bad Brains, they started blasting out light-speed anthems about keeping it positive ("Attitude"), how the nation's capital couldn't handle them ("Banned in D.C.") and how desegregation was gonna be the end of America ("Big Takeover"). Then came one of their many reggae originals ("I and I Survive," "Rally Round Jah Throne"), followed by more technical, dense blasters. Bands tried to copy them, and only ended up getting slightly faster — not deeper, smarter and better.

Bad Brains: A Band in DC, a 2012 documentary by Mandy Stein and Ben Logan, uses archival footage and original comic illustrations to tell one version of the band's story. Bassist Darryl Jenifer has gone on the record saying it miscasts the band members, who consider themselves brothers that have always fought with each other. Instead, A Band in DC focuses on two particular fights (the Riot Fest blowout and a long-ago beef with Texas' gay punks, Big Boys) and wraps it up in vocalist HR's eccentricities. Jenifer grants that its pretty good, for a Hollywood film about the band.

You can catch it this Saturday at Mad Art (2727 South Twelfth Street) and make up your own mind. After the screening, the Spiders and the Right Brigade play tribute sets culled from the band's deep catalog. Tickets are $15 and it's all-ages.

And since there's nothing like Bad Brains, turn up your speakers and get positive.

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