By Billy Ludt
Youngstown native Matt Greenfield returned to steel town for a hometown showing of his documentary, “Destroy Cleveland,” at the Little Youngstown Cinema on Oct. 17.
“Destroy Cleveland” is a manic look at the aggressive, and often violent — albeit intriguing — hardcore punk rock scene in Cleveland, from the ‘80s to the early 2000s. Interviews featured in the film tell the story of such groups as H100s, Nine Shocks Terror, Cider, The Darvocets and One Life Crew.
These interviews are placed next to show footage, photos and gig posters.
“I think I made the film mostly for my own amusement,” Greenfield said. “I don’t know what other people think. I’m amused; I’m entertained. I made it from that selfish perspective.”
Greenfield said that the idea of filming a documentary on Cleveland hardcore came to him one day while he was working. Initially he thought somebody else should shoot it.
“These guys are so mysterious and crazy and funny,” Greenfield said. “Another days go by and I was like, ‘Oh my god. I should make this.’”
He reached out to his friends Jorge Mathew Delarosa and Colby Grimes. Greenfield knew that Grimes and Delarosa had experience shooting movies, making low-budget horror films and documentaries.
Greenfield’s first experience with Cleveland hardcore was a chance purchase of a Nine Shocks Terror and a H100s record.
“I somehow figured all those bands were connected because they kind of all sounded alike,” Greenfield said. “I heard Nine Shocks Terror had members of H100s, so I wanted to see these bands live.”
Nine Shocks Terror played at the Roboto Project, a known punk venue in Pittsburgh.
Four songs into their set, the venue pulled the plug on Nine Shocks Terror. Lead singer, Tony Erba, promptly took his microphone and threw it into the crowd.
“I just loved it,” Greenfield said. “I thought it was just as good as a show. It was a show to me. It was a performance. It was just Erba really pissed off.”
Greenfield’s second experience with Cleveland hardcore was a show that lives in infamy within the scene: the Gordon Solie Motherf—ers show at Speak in Tongues in Cleveland.
Erba, also the lead singer of Gordon Solie, was shirtless and donning a cape when he took the stage. As the band played, crowd members were shredding and throwing phone books; they brought in potted plants from the street and smashed them; a man in nothing but a jock strap had tied firecrackers to his crotch, lit them and dove from the stage.
During the set, Erba was struck in the head and began bleeding profusely. He passed out on the stage for several minutes. The crowd chanted, “Erba’s dead.” He regained consciousness and played for another 20 minutes.
“This was super interactive,” Greenfield said. “It was like going to see pro wrestling or something.”
Greenfield premiered “Destroy Cleveland” at the Ohio City Masonic Arts Center in Cleveland. Gordon Solie reunited for the after show.
Greenfield currently resides in Austin, Texas. He runs the underground culture blog, Rust Belt Hammer.