With all the hysteria and build up to the Millennium, very little changed in the moments after 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 1999. In surfing, a cultural shift was already underway and gaining steam, however, as the hot surfers of the ‘90s—the tail-sliding, progression-minded Momentum Generation—matured into early adulthood. Through half a dozen films, beginning with 1999’s “Thicker Than Water” and peaking with 2001’s “Shelter,” a collective of multifarious surfer-filmmakers including Jack Johnson and Emmett Malloy, along with cousins Keith, Dan, and Chris known as The Moonshine Conspiracy, dug into ‘70s surf and Indie cinematography, while cribbing soundtracks from contemporary college radio and inviting their talented group of friends to strum acoustic guitars and wax existentially in rootsy surf locales around the globe.
This week’s throwback clip of the week, “Shelter,” perhaps best exemplifies the Momentum Generation’s soulful transitional period, as Moonshine faves Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Kelly Slater, Brad Gerlach, Taylor Knox, Joel Tudor and pre-adult-contemporary Pandora Radio stalwart Donavon Frankenreiter hole up in the hills overlooking Byron Bay to play stickball, write music, and surf a range of alternative equipment from lis-style fishes to a verdant Campbell Brothers Bonzer. Guest appearances by non bomb-loving Nuclear Physicist-musician Jon Swift and early 2000’s roots-revivalist Ben Harper provide hip street cred, while a mostly homegrown soundtrack and some really strong performances in the water, all captured on vintage 16mm film, give “Shelter” lasting relevance. It’s a fun watch and will, to this day, provide distinctive and appropriate ambience when played in the background of a house party full of college coeds. Enjoy!
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