Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Parka Avenue and Blue Sunshine presents: We are the Mods - The Movie

I had the pleasure to attend, a few times this year, the Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Cinema Space. Run by two passionate movie buffs, Kier-La and David, they will dig out the most obscure documentaries and movies to ever hit the movie screen. Let me be clear, obscure and underground do not equal boring.

I've been particularly fond of their music themed Thursdays. White Light / White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day by Day, John Peel's Record Box and The Touchables are a few of the movies I got the pleasure to see. So imagine how excited I was when Kier-La accepted to co-present the Californian independent movie We Are The Mods. I have to give her all the credit for getting the film and obtaining all the rights to show it.

Parka Avenue's duties were to provide the arriving guests a short DJ set with a mix of soul classics, garage favorites and Mod revival anthems. I had also prepared a presentation on what ended up being close to an hour-long overview of the Mod movement throughout the years. Rare clips, never published photos and rare memorabilia were used to win over the audience. A bit worried that I had run long, I was relieved when a few people came up to me to say that they enjoyed the presentation as much as the movie.

One of the unique clips I selected appeared on YouTube around 3 years ago. Filmed in 1964, at the pinnacle of the Mod movement, you get to witness raw footage of The High Numbers before they became The Who. It's a rare look at Mods clearly "blocked" on Purple Hearts or pumped up on Blues. You also get a glimpse of Pete Townshend in the early stages of doing his famed windmill guitar move. Simply admiring Keith Moon working his magic on the drums is awe-inspiring. Why The High Numbers have never recorded one of my all-time favorite R&B numbers Ooh Poo Pah Doo is totally beyond me.

The movie itself might never attain the same cult status as Quadrophenia but unlike some critics from certain Mod circles, I'm not as quick to dismiss it. It's your basic coming-of-age tale with your mixture of teenage angst, relationship woes, drugs and teenage sexual discovery. If you stop and think about it, it sure sounds like a modern day Quadrophenia to me. Who is to say that in 30 years, this movie won't be used as a reference for a new generation of Mods?

Granted, it has its fair share of clichés. But I don't care. The music is good, the clothes are sharp and one of the guys has a beautiful SX200. It's a true honest effort. Personally, I don't get some of the nasty comments from certain YouTube users who base their opinion uniquely on the trailer. And what is all that out-of-date, centric view that Mods can only be British? The music is American and Jamaican, the clothes are based on the American Ivy League look mixed with French and Italian fashion and the scooters are Italian. Can we get passed this please? Mods are now a worldwide phenomenon.

We Are The Mods might not be the classic I was hoping for but I was certainly entertained. And judging from the smiling faces after the show, I wasn't the only one. And that's a fact.

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