"“A cult classic of outsider artists becoming insiders...”"

What many people don’t understand about punk music is how such simple, niche and aggressive music can produce such devotion in its fans. Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day, the focus of this Finnish documentary by newcomers Jukka Karkkainen and Jani-Petteri Passi, has the classic punk esthetic in spades. The only difference is that all the members of Kurikka’s Name Day happen to be disabled.

Like music itself, The Punk Syndrome is brutal, honest and unintentionally funny, revealing the alternative culture of the music and the bands struggle and eventual success to be involved within it.  A music documentary is usually filled with egos; fights and breakdowns as the band in question are pushed into a small space for hours on end until it all ends in tears. There’s no difference here but unlike your ‘normal’ band the four main members are lacking in tact, and the need to conform to social conventions and self censorship. This shows a raw, sincere and awkward honesty that punctuates every scene trending the line between impartial observation and a look on human nature itself.

This almost childlike view of the world is what makes the music so powerful and social dynamic of the group so engaging to witness. The lead singer and lyricist of the group Kari Aalto who suffers from mental disability is volatile, in love with a woman with Downs Syndrome and hates going to get pedicures. The drummer Toni Valitalo and bassist Sam Helle both have Downs Syndrome but couldn’t be more different. Toni is the youngest and preparing to leave his parents house and move into a group home. He's also the most easy going of the band, only getting upset when he finds out the girl he likes is in love with someone else. Sam is the most contentious member, a perfectionist who spends his weekends volunteering for a conservative political party.

However the star of the documentary is the guitarist, founder and namesake of the band Pertti Kurikka. An intensively sensitive, obsessive compulsive who has cerebral palsy, he provides the band with support, obsessively touches the seams of their jackets and cries with joy and sadness throughout. He’s thoughtful but struggles to maintain his emotions; it’s this quality that challenges your own assumptions about people with disabilities. When he visits his manager/carer Kalle Pajamaa's newborn baby in the hospital, he cries with joy and asks if he’s ‘normal’ and tells a story about how he wasn’t told when his mother died. It’s this bluntness of exchanges that permeate the lyrics of the band ("Pertti has a speech defect/He can't throw a disco party/Pertti has cerebral palsy/He can't throw a disco party") and demonstrates the full depth of what the members go through.

It’s not without its laughs though, when Sam Helle - whom we’ve seen berating the other members – decides not to go to Pertti’s birthday party, and competes in a strongest man contest where his pants fall down. It’s hard not to slightly chuckle along with the other members of the band as he get’s his comeuppance.

The Punk Syndrome sticks it to the man, in more ways then one, as you see the lives they lead and the rigid structure of their livelihoods. You can see how the anti-establishment punk aesthetic would appeal. A cult classic of outsider artists becoming insiders.