cover image Hard Art, DC 1979

Hard Art, DC 1979

Lucian Perkins, narrative by Alec MacKaye, essay by Henry Rollins. Akashic, $23.95 (100p) ISBN 978-1-61775-167-7

Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist Perkins’s images, taken during the fall and winter of 1979 and published to accompany a traveling exhibition, document a formative period in Washington, D.C.’s then-nascent punk and hardcore rock scene. At a time when local bands were struggling to find venues at which to perform, hardcore groups began playing at a daring set of “unheralded, unproduced, DIY pop-ups.” Perkins was one of the few to bring a camera to these shows, and he produced propulsive images of the aesthetic as it was forming. Photos capturing the raw magnetism of performers like Charlie Danbury of Trenchmouth and H.R. of Bad Brains signal the power of the music. Perkins is also fascinated with the audience at these events, showcasing dingy stairwells and sweat-glazed faces. In telling shots, performers and audience blur into a frenzied mass. Musician MacKaye, of the Untouchables, gives a firsthand account of being a 14-year-old at these shows, crossing dangerous parts of D.C. in order to stand with strangers in derelict buildings and hear live music. Musician Rollins’s brief essay on one of the bands, the Teen Idles, speaks to the intensity and commitment of those involved. B&w photos throughout. (June)