DVD Punk's First Last Stand

DVD Punk's First Last Stand
December 1, 1978 was a crucial date in the annals of Toronto punk rock history. Renowned promoters the Garys (Topp and Cormier, responsible for the Ramones’ and the Cramps’ first Toronto gigs) were being ousted from booking the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. Rather than go quietly however, the duo overstuffed the bar with 500-plus fans for one final bash: the Last Pogo, an all-out affair featuring some of Hogtown’s loudest and grittiest acts the Scenics, the Cardboard Brains, the Secrets, the Mods, the Ugly, the Viletones and Teenage Head. Despite being shut down by the Fire Marshall one song into Teenage Head’s set (resulting in a near-riot in and outside on the bar), the evening was a raging success captured on celluloid and released in 1979 as The Last Pogo by former Horseshoe employee Colin Brunton, who inadvertently stumbled into the role of director/documentarian.

"I was driving a cab and popped in one night,” he reflects now. "I heard the Garys talking about this show they were gonna do called the Last Pogo. Without thinking, I blurted out that I was gonna film it. This was me with all of a three-week Filmmakers Co-op course. The next morning I was sober — I was high the night before when I announced that — and thought it would still be cool to make. Somehow I didn’t feel my lack of knowledge or money should stop me.”

With limited means, Brunton collected enough material for a 26-minute overview of the evening. Initially ignored, The Last Pogo has blossomed over the past 30 years as punkers appreciate how his unbiased lens encapsulates original Toronto punk at its most raw, lewd and guttural; is an account of the city’s formative punk scene. Thankful for the recognition, Brunton is more concerned that the film’s just-released DVD incarnation will generate more than just nostalgia from original scenesters. "I won’t make a nickel off this thing but it’s really great to see it out. I’ll be happy if some of these bands get the recognition or respect they never got 30 years ago.”