Reviews & suggestions for punk rock fans.

Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock! – Documentary to Watch

Clockwork Orange County is about the West Coast’s Punk Rock Scene, the Cuckoo’s Nest, & Jerry Roach

To be a cloud on the wall of the Cuckoo’s Nest – that’d be cool. The legendary venue run by Jerry Roach reigned from 1976 to 1981, and is the centerpiece of the documentary Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock!. Plus, the film gives you a glimpse at the early punk scene on the West Coast and the youth movement that gave it power.

Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock! starts with 15 minutes of sound bites until leading your to the early history of the Cuckoo’s Nest and how Jerry Roach came to acquire the venue. From there, you learn the club became a mecca for local misfits, expressing individuality even if that meant fighting local “Redneck Cowboys” who despised their way of life. By the end of the movie you get how the club rose and closed in California, and the legacy it left behind for future generations of bands like Blink-182, Green Day, New Found Glory, and so many more that hit it big in the 90s and beyond.

One comical aspect of Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock! was the conflicting views of the various artists. For instance, you hear from Henry Rollins who says something along the lines of “I know this was going to be special” when speaking about the rise of the youth movement happening during this time. Then, cut to Keith Morris who says (paraphrase), “anyone who thinks they knew this was going to be special is full of s**t.” No joke, it happens. And yet, it’s cool to get these opposing sides to how special the movement was no matter if they knew it at the time or didn’t.

Of course, you don’t just see interviews from living legends, you also see footage from inside the venue. Both Keith Morris’ Circle Jerks and Henry Rollins’ Black Flag get a moment of footage from back in the day, as well as other bands whether in video form or photography.

Within the mix of cut scenes and sound bites, there is a moment in Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock! that speaks to the power of punk rock and why I would tell anyone to watch the film. When they get in to the government trying to shut down the club, it shows how our society often looks at things that are “different” to be feared. That if a person can’t “assimilate” into the culture, it must be stopped. The Cuckoo’s Nest was a hub for kids trying to find their voice, yet society saw a bunch of “punks” and couldn’t handle it. Even when they were NOT the aggressors. Something we see each and every day, whether we openly admit it or decide to walk on by.

Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock! wraps it up with a feel-good moment giving love to Jerry Roach. In the beginning many spoke of how he was a greedy son of a b***h, holding back on payment for various bands. But in the end, and standing where they are today, the band members understand the stress and frustration of dealing with a bunch of kids running a muck in a club under his responsibility. And the respect they have for him for standing his ground in court against the local government which ultimately made him close his doors. Rock on.

A true punk rock story, Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock! should be given a try, and despite its shortcomings, was an exciting informative film to watch.

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