Skateboarding is a key part of Los Angeles culture. It grew and thrived here because of the most unique set of Los Angeles variables, nice pools, a drought, and a bunch of bored surfers. It lives on because the city is a monument to failed transportation modes, so kicking a plank along the ground on some rubber ceramic wheels seems to be the best solution. It was built by us and for us, so it makes sense that we should soundtrack it as well.
Going too far into a tangent about what skateboarding means to Los Angeles as a whole could take multiple books and a few films so I’ll keep it fairly short, but when skateboarding was coming to prominence it made kids outcasts. So of course they turned to punk, and when punk was co-opted into a fashion statement, they took their ears to hardcore, metal, and noise rock. The past thirty years has seen groups like Big Black, Shellac, and Dinosaur Jr, groups that stood little chance of natural popularity, rise to prominence because of skateboarding.
Film too has not remained untouched by skateboarding. Perhaps the most famous example of a movie would be Lords of Dogtown but the most famous skateboard film maker is undoubtedly Spike Jonze, who filmed his friends skateboarding, learned how to edit, and went on to invent an entirely new language of filming, editing and shooting.
All of these elements blend together in perfect harmony in Thomas Campbell’s Ye Olde Destruction, a skateboarding film held together by a loose narrative and a heavy pour of joy. The film focuses on the construction, destruction, and reconstruction of miniature skate parks by a group of famous skaters. Of course the main driver of the film is the incredible skateboard tricks but the best part is clearly the joy they took in creating this film.
At Zebulon on 12/20 a handful of people were permitted to experience the joy of this film firsthand, and what a joy it was. The best part of the experience was easily No Age playing the soundtrack live to the film. I will say the film itself was enjoyable, a visual treat that wordlessly defends the contributions skateboarding makes to the community, but the soundtrack is something else altogether. No Age toned down their bombastic style, and turned themselves into something far more atmospheric and emotionally impactful, only deploying the full weight of their intensity in key moments which added a sense of drama and power to the events taking place onscreen.
Seeing it soundtracked live added the appropriate amount of volume as well. The analog texture of the instruments complimented the DIY nature of the film itself and the landing of certain tricks was met with cheers from the audience. No Age played admirably throughout the film, with perfect timing and, as far as I could tell, no mistakes.
While a majority of the crowd was probably skaters, there is no way that everyone was. But for a brief moment in time we all understood the allure and the draw of such a violent, dangerous activity. The joy, the freedom of flying inches from the concrete, with only a plank of wood keeping you aloft. Every portion of this evening only reinforced the beautiful power of the moments taking place. I implore you to track down this film if only for the soundtrack alone, but it is all worthy of your witness.
Photo Credit: Amelia Osowski