Those Damned Drums


Positive Force, the activist punk collective that in many ways shaped what it meant to enact a DIY ethos in the US, is the subject of director Robin Bell’s documentary, Positive Force: More Than a Witness. The film begins with the group’s genesis in DC’s “Revolution Summer” of 1985 and spans thirty years of Positive Force’s activism.

Born out of an admiration for the DIY anarchism of Crass and a local scene heavily inspired by Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Rites of Spring, the group put on protest shows that defined punk activism for decades. The film celebrates how Positive Force made an impact beyond the music scene it helped foster, such as when the 1991 Punk Percussion Protest famously pushed then-President George H. W. Bush to complain to the press, “Those damned drums are keeping me up all night.”

Read more about the documentary, the artists involved, and the activism they were fighting for via the Guardian and the Washington Post.

Liz Wood is a freelance editor, fiction writer, and current student in the NYU MFA program. More from this author →