“The Go-Go’s” (Amazon)

Sometime around 1977 in Pittsburgh, PA I was doing my weekly Goodwill “treasure hunting” when I noticed an oddly dressed fellow shopper–a young woman in her 20’s: bright red hair, torn leather skirt, wrinkled tee shirt and a safety pin for an earring. A decade older than she was, I leaned toward vintage thrift store chic, but this was way more offbeat. Later I learned that hers was the iconic dress of Second Wave Punk, a musical movement that it seemed everyone but me knew about. “The Go-Go’s” were very much a part of that second wave. Legendary in musical history, they were the first Girl Group to write all their own songs and perform them on their own instruments. But it was more than talent that contributed to their rise. They projected an infectious exuberance and playfulness, they were California girls who just wanted to have fun: vintage convertibles, surfing, cavorting in fountains, crazy, non-erotic clothes. These self-described high school misfits made you wish you could hang with them. No need to say that beneath that frothy surface, troubles would brew. But the filmmakers go deeper than simply chronicling the familiar trajectory of young talent ill-equipped for fame. The excellent interviews and interweaving of concert footage, plus (okay–a plug for my cousin, Ben Fine) some great animation make it a two thumbs up evening’s watch.

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