The 4th annual Community Records Block Party, held earlier this year in April, was a distinct – if humble – success for the young, ambitious, hard-boiled New Orleans DIY label. Expanding on previous years’ hallmarks of conscientious bohemian family fun anchored by their own stable of punk, ska and hardcore bands, 2011 saw larger crowd numbers, participation from contemporaries like Chinquapin Records (who share with Community a common band in Caddywhompus) and – most notably – a headlining performance by one of the last nineties ska bands standing, the legendary and ever-chameleonic Rx Bandits. To anyone involved or in attendance, the all-day festival, which took up an entire city block outside the Big Top, was an achievement in that it was an exciting yet encouragingly inevitable next step for Community Records as an entity.
What’s not as immediately obvious however (though no less undeniable), is how monumental of a moral success for the city the event has become with every passing April: each time the Block Party grows even the tiniest bit more capacious, you can practically feel the independent music scene worming ever closer to a long-elusive nationally recognized critical mass. More important than simply being capable of coaxing larger-ticket acts like the Rx Bandits into appearing, the Block Party has become the singular locus for New Orleans-based musicians who individually share in a consummate creative autonomy, regardless of whether they’re intent on sonically innovative, avant-garde trailblazing or they’re eschewing textural experimentation in favor of tried-and-true, sociopolitically vocal ska punk.
In what is possibly an equally meaningful gesture, the men behind Community Records teamed up with local underground multimedia production company the Greenhouse Collective earlier this year to visually document the 2011 Block Party – arguably the first film ever produced about or set to a backdrop of New Orleans rock or punk. Walk On Some Heads follows the festival for its entire 12-hour duration, along the way providing behind-the-scenes interviews, audience enthusiasm, offstage goings-on and a fascinatingly meta account of how the Greenhouse Collective actually achieved its painstaking visual coverage. Most crucial though are the live highlights, which all other subject matter in the film is centered around and which the filmmakers masterfully capture with strikingly clear audio.
For the documentary’s release, Community Records, the Greenhouse Collective and WTUL 91.5FM are returning to the scene of the festival, the Big Top, for a two-night premiere. Tuesday, December 13 features an acoustic performance by the already-accomplished pop punk newcomers the Lollies, while Wednesday, December 14 boasts stripped-down, experimental sets by Sun Hotel and Caddywhompus‘ Chris Rehm.