We Were Famous, You Don’t Remember: The Embarrassment
Director: Daniel Fetherston, Danny Szlauderbach Run Time: 96 min. Format: DCP Rating: NR Release Year: 2023
It was the end of the seventies. Surrounded by wheat fields, cowboys, and cars, four bespectacled misfits in Kansas — Bill Goffrier, Brent Giessmann, John Nichols, and Ron Klaus — grabbed instruments and blasted out “a ravenous strain of rock ‘n’ roll” as tuneful, brainy, and enthralling as anything coming from the coasts. They worshipped the Stooges and witnessed the Sex Pistols bring punk to the Great Plains, igniting within them an uncontrolled prairie fire to do-it-themselves.
As the Embarrassment, they threw a house- wrecking party and invited “a thousand loving friends” into their underground world of “weirdo New Wave freaks” in Wichita and beyond. They played Chicago, D.C., and New York, drawing the attention of influential figures like Allen Ginsberg, John Cale, and Jonathan Demme. But their independence and refusal to sell out sparked tension within the group and kept mainstream success at bay, meaning they never quite claimed their rightful place in American rock history alongside other post-punk icons like Hüsker Dü, Mission of Burma, Pylon, Wipers, the Replacements, R.E.M., and Minutemen.
Through original interviews, restored concert footage, the band’s inimitable songs, and appearances by fans including Evan Dando, Freedy Johnston, Grant Hart, and Thomas Frank, this documentary shows how the Embarrassment rose out of nowhere in Reagan-era Middle America to become a post-punk legend that’s almost been forgotten — until now.
Followed by an after party in Trees Lounge with DJ Harry Howes from Almost Ready Records