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Beyond Barricades: The Story of Anti-Flag


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Anti-Flag guitarist and lead singer Justin Sane begins this film by telling a little about his upbringing, notably about his outspoken mother who was no doubt a major influence on her son who would grow up to be the leader of a politically-charged punk rock band. With various lineup changes in their early days, Justin states that the band's legacy really didn't begin until the lineup solidified in 1997 as himself, drummer Pat Thetic, guitarist Chris Head and bass man Chris Barker, also known as "2" since he was the second band member named Chris.

With more than 20-years of band history to cover, the documentary's director Jon Nix had his work cut out for him. Telling the story in their own words are each band member along with friends and associates like Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Brian Baker of Bad Religion, Billy Bragg, Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, Chris Cresswell of Hot Water Music and Tom May and Greg Barnett of the Menzingers. You'll hear how the guys struggled to improve their playing and how, once they did, they approached Fat Wreck Chords for a contract but didn't get it (eventually they would record for the label.)

One of the most interesting moments comes as the band explain their feelings after the 911 terrorist attacks. At a time when patriotism was running high, here's a band called Anti-Flag. Should they change the band name, or even quit? Obviously they did neither and the huge backlash they anticipated never materialized. Touring with Rage Against the Machine is covered, as is the band's relatively short tenure with a major label, RCA. A touching moment comes with the retelling of how Barker's sister was shot to death and how that gave him pause with the band's stated opposition to the death penalty. Through it all there's the underlying message here to stand up for what you believe in and seek positive change. While many Anti-Flag fans are already doing that, this film may very well spark others to action.

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