The first punk rock record I ever owned was a Dead Kennedys album called In God We Trust, Inc. On the cover is a picture of Jesus crucified on folded U.S. dollar bills. As a confused 14 year old, the message was clear: this music was about rebellion, anger and stripping away the facade of authority. It was anti-conformity, anti-society and anti-religion. I loved it, and I’ve been a fan of punk ever since.
When I heard about a new sub-genre of punk called ‘Christian hardcore’ or ‘Christcore’, I was cynical. So, too, was filmmaker Justin Ludwig. An ex-Catholic and self-styled atheist, Ludwig has spent his adult life in the Saskatchewan hardcore scene, often writing and singing about the rejection of the church. A few years ago, he decided to make a film about the growing Christian hardcore movement. He went in with an open mind, and the result is ChristCORE.
The film follows two bands at different stages of their careers. Messengers are a Texas band who are embarking on their first tour. On the other hand, Utah’s Sleeping Giant have legions of fans and headlining gigs booked across the country. Lead singer Tommy is revered at the band’s shows, sometimes performing faith healing on lucky fans.
Ludwig lets the band members do the talking (and screaming), and it’s hard not to like them. ChristCORE culminates with Sleeping Giant playing the Christian Cornerstone Music Festival. When Tommy ‘baptizes’ the mosh pit, you realize just how powerful the movement has become.
ChristCORE provides a glimpse into a subculture that many believe is a contradiction in terms. Is there a place in hardcore punk music for evangelical Christianity? It’s up to the viewer to decide. ChristCORE is the kind of documentary that sparks real discussion after the credits roll. M
Mon., Feb. 4 • The Vic • 7pm
Review by Jason Lamb, host of The Punk Show (and The Morning Show) on The Zone@91.3 FM