It's a Complex World, and a Local Cult Classic

Stop everything you’re doing and watch this bonkers piece of the city’s rock and roll history


Domestic terrorists. A sneering folk-punk smartass. Civil War-obsessed bikers. A fascist running for president. It’s a Complex World, the punk rock cult classic about one bizarro night in Providence, might be pushing 30, but the parade of weirdos and misfits feel right at home on modern screens.

It’s a Complex World has existed on the periphery of the only Providence I’ve ever known, a city post-highway and river relocations and a couple of Heartbreak Hotels removed from the one where most of the film’s action takes place. But it would come up every so often when talking with bands and local filmmakers. So why bring it up? Thanks to our corporate overlords – which the films’ characters would have tipped their guitars to with an ironic sneer – the film is currently streaming for free for anyone with an Amazon Prime account.

Produced by original Heartbreak Hotel owner Rich Lupo and directed by Oscar-nominated documentary short director and then-Lupo’s bartender Jim Wolpaw, It’s a Complex World blends live performance footage of The Young Adults with an
anarchic, low budget plot that covers a lot of bases. There’s a slobs versus snobs element to the beef between politicians and the concert hall. There’s a high ranking politician double-dealing with terrorists to exploit tragedy for political gain. There’s the general sort of late night, smoky club sleaze populated by a bunch of adults that are anything but. There’s the folk-punk smartass, an unlikeable dweeb who uses a guitar to tell off a world he hates. The terror cell leader who can’t be taken seriously is played by the boss George Costanza gave his phoney-baloney Human Fund donation to. Even Captain Lou Albano shows up, rubber bands in his beard and everything. “All sorts of people showed up the Heartbreak Hotel,” one of the film’s narrators muses at one point. They sure did.

It all feels like someone crossed The Last Waltz with Repo Man and soaked in a ash-and-butt filled pint of warm ‘Gansett. It’s genuinely amazing. Go watch it immediately.