I’m rather sad to admit I was never able to step foot inside the legendary Lawrence, KS, punk venue The Outhouse while it existed. The year the venue opened in 1985 was the same year I got cannon-blasted into this world, covered in blood and screaming. By the time the place reached its swan song and finally closed its doors in 1998, I was still a good year or so away from seeing live music on a regular basis. The Outhouse made history that is told in stories by people across the country, and it hosted almost every punk band worth its salt in the time it was open. To attempt to list only some of the bands that played there would be a disservice to the hundreds of other great bands that would be left out.
As the kickstarter page for the film points out, there have been many films made in recent years covering the rise of American punk music. American Hardcore (and the book on which it was based) largely covered the coasts and small scene events in Chicago, Minneapolis, and other scattered metro areas. Nobody ever really focuses on the Midwest or things that were happening outside of the same cities that get talked about all the time. Chicago has its own documentation of its early days in You Weren’t There, just as Minneapolis has the rarely seen When We Play for Real, and Ohio has Cleveland’s Screaming. It makes sense then that writer/director Brad Norman is piecing together what will be released as The Outhouse: The Film 1985-1997, a documentary hoping for national distribution. It tells the story of what the Meatmen’s Tesco Vee eloquently describes in the teaser as a “visceral fucking cinder block building out in the middle of a cornfield.”
While I’m sure there is an element of nostalgia involved in the creation of this film, and that those involved would like to look back on important youth moments, I think the main goal is to show as many viewers as possible how fundamentally important a single building was to not only the people who kept it going for almost 13 years, but to the local music scene in general. The place has been closed for years and has since turned into a seedy strip club under the same name, but its impact as a punk venue can still be seen and felt in the local community to this day.
The kickstarter project has already exceeded its $8,500 goal with 21 days to go, and all money made will be going toward the production of the film and licensing of existing music.