DVD REVIEWS

 

IF IT AIN'T CHEAP IN AIN'T PUNK
(Microcosm)
I could pretty much watch any documentary about any music group, era, scene or genre. (Seriously, it could be a Wham! biopic and I'd be into it.) If it Ain't Cheap is certainly no exception. This DVD is an interesting and well put together film that documents Plan-It-X Records and that label's Plan-It-X Fest that went down in Bloomington, Indiana back in 2006. The fest was a week-long orgy of music and DYI workshops that attracted like-minded punks from all over the country and the world. Lots of talking head interviews and live footage of bands I've never heard of (Ghost Mice, Operation: Cliff Clavin) and a few I have (Japanther, This Bike is a Pipe Bomb). All in all, a good flick for music fans regardless of their familiarity with the bands featured. Lot's of good bonus footage too—Tyler Sperry

Adolescents Live at the House of Blues reviewADOLESCENTS
Live at the House of Blues (Kung Fu Films)
I wish I could say the Adolescents have aged gracefully but Jesus H. Christ—they haven't! Except for maybe Frank Agnew. They sound tight on this live DVD though. They just ain't pretty, but punk ain't pretty. It never was. Not in 82 or 92 or 02 or even now. Just look at The Ramones or the Sex Pistols or Offspring... all right, you can argue if they're really punk but those are some ugly, ugly sonsabitches. Fugly. But I digress. This DVD and the accompanying CD feature classic Adolescent tunes and a few new ones slated for release in the near future. New, old, it all sounds the same, it's all good punk rock—Joey Germ

Alkaline Trio: Halloween at the Metro reviewALKALINE TRIO
Alkaline Trio: Halloween at the Metro (Kung Fu Films)
Never heard a lick of an Alkaline Trio song before this DVD, so this live show at the Metro in Chicago on Halloween 2002 was my first introduction. Dressed as priests and playing in front of an inverted cross, the Trio churn out eighteen of their pop punk rockers to adoring sing-along fans. Some songs are pretty average fare, others rise above, but on the whole, the band was pretty unexciting to watch and the music was nothing that really got me interested in listening to more. Pretty much a zero on the special features too but I can see how a fan might appreciate this—Jimmy James Snodgrass

Goldfinger: Live at the House of Blues reviewGUTTERMOUTH
Goldfinger: Live at the House of Blues (Kung Fu Films)
Guttermouth singer, Mark Adkins, makes a very interesting comment on this DVD of one of their live shows filmed at the House Blue in California. At one point in the set, he introduces himself to the audience as Mark, "the alcoholic singer of a mediocre punk band" Well, I can't vouch for his alleged drinking problem but mediocre punk band sure nails it on the head. This is a pretty undynamic, unoriginal, and uninteresting band and I refuse to believe that Guttermouth is one of the most infamous O.C. bands of all time, as is been suggested in the accompanying press sheet. The kids seem to be into it though, so what the fuck do I know about it? Nuthin'—Muggsy McMurphy

The Show Must Go Off reviewMEST
The Show Must Go Off (Kung Fu Films)
Mest are a Chicago pop punk quartet who I've never heard of. This was filmed at the gritty punk mecca, House of Blues, somewhere in California. Mest, who I think are on the punk stalwart label, Madonna's Maverick Records play a fast pop punk, like Green Day (the singer/ guitarist even has the patented Billy Joe neck tick). The after show party footage proves these guys got really, really lucky somebody wanted to pay for the release of such garbage. Mest
seem to be completely retarded both musically and socially. They do, however, have tattoos—Joey Germ

THE MATCHES
Show Must Go Off!, Vol. 14 (Kung Fu Films)
Never mind the apparent fashion identity crisis going on with these guys, but The Matches sure front like they're laying down some hard-ass shit. They may run around and jump up and down like complete idiots but the end result is just some pretty bad pop punk—PC Jones

The Show Must Go Off! Live at the Glass House reviewPISTOL GRIP
The Show Must Go Off! Live at the Glass House (Kung Fu Films)
Seventh in Kung-Fu's live series, this is one of the few that wasn't filmed at the venerated punk venue, House of Blues (sarcasm intended). To be fair, despite it's obvious corporate connotations, I've been told the H.O.B. treats bands very well and offers state-of-the-art sound, but that is neither here nor there, is it? Pistol Grip is an oi band from Pomona, California and this show went down in front of the home crowd at the Glasshouse. Having never heard a lick of The Grip prior, I found them to be sincere enough in their delivery of vintage working class oi although the guitarist with the mohawk is in serious danger of letting that classic punk hairstyle cross the line into mullet territory. That would be tragic. No winners there I'm afraid. As with a few of the other Show Must Go Off shows I've seen, the bonus features are a little lacking. If I was a Pistol Grip fan who paid for this, that might be a beef of mine. But I'm not and I didn't so who got hurt? Not me—Muggsy McMurphy

REEL BIG FISH
The Show Must Go Off! Episode Eight: Live at the House of Blues (Kung Fu Films)
California ska band Reel Big Fish are the feature on The Show Must Go Off, Episode Eight. I'm not a big fan of this brand of ska, although the band itself seems likable and competent enough at it, but since I greedily grabbed this DVD off the pile, I must accept the burden of the review: good footage; nice shots, excellent camera work. The music though, not so much. Was not a fan, still ain't—P.C. Jones

SEEMOREBUDS
Experience Growing Marijuana Cannabis Cultivation
(Eazy Green Productions) www.seemorebuds.com
This is an instructional video on how to hook yourself up with the ultimate indoor pot growing empire. The disclaimer of course suggests that you check with the laws in your country before undertaking such an endeavor just to make sure it's legal. Lemme save you the trouble my fellow Americans, it ain't. But if the mere thought of a lengthy prison sentence doesn't deter you from dreams of harvesting over $180,000 dollars worth of ganja a year, then this is the how-to video you've been waiting for. Just don't tell 'em I told ya about it, got it?—John P. Walters

BOB SWITZER
Second Chance www.bertswitzer.com
Bob Switzer is a Boston drummer... and he's wicked awesome. Switzer played in Monster Island, with noise guitarist Henry Kaiser, as well as the 70s Boston punk band, The Destroyed. This DVD features Bob rocking his kits (he's got a couple) in some free form skin bashing in between interview snippets about drums, drumming and past projects. Switzer also visits former band members and does some split screen remote jams. Also included is some old Destroyed footage which is lacking in audio and visual—what's the word?—quality, but you can imagine yourself drunk at the bar thirty years ago and you'll be all right—PC Jones

The Show Must Go Off!, Episode 15: Live At The House Of Blues reviewTHROW RAG
The Show Must Go Off!, Episode 15: Live At The House Of Blues (Kung Fu Films)
You know there's roughly a twenty percent chance that I'm going to like any band in this Show Must Go Off! series, but finally Kung Fu delivers with this group of ugly, dirty cretins. Unlike a lot of bands on Kung Fu, Throwrag not only have hair on their balls, they probably have scars on them too. Throw Rag live in the desert, play sailor rock, and they even have some nutcase in the band who plays a strap-on washboard with cow bells hanging where his bells are. What's not to love? What?—Dirty Streets

THE VANDALS
Oi to the World; Live in Concert (Kung Fu Films)
They must be familiar with our production schedule 'cause I got this in July, just in time for Christmas! (The cover depicts a snowman swinging from a noose. Violence against snowmen must stop!) I also just got a DVD player which makes me the first and only RW reviewer to stumble into the 21st Century thereby making me the new DVD reviewer, so I would like to use this space to write a few sentences about what you're going to find on this DVD should you chose to purchase it. First of all, you're gonna want to be a Vandals fan as this is a taping of a live Vandals Christmas show. If you are a fan of the Vandal's music and their humorous brand of punk rock then this is as good a document of why you are a fan as any. Eighteen songs in addition to the requisite commentary in the form of the band critiquing their own performance. So buy it if you want it 'cause from my experience, Santa usually drops the ball when it comes to music—Baby Jesus

THE VANDALS
Sweatin to the Oldies (Kung Fu Films)
The Vandals are usually good for a few chuckles and some tight 4/4 punk rock and fans of the Vandals will surely by satisfied by the quality footage and topnotch sound. Having said that, I must admit that I find them to be kinda redundant after awhile. Despite the bands obvious energy level, my interest level peaked early and did not return. The bonus footage is mostly ads for other Kung Fu films and a commercial for drum sticks, making the DVD not unlike other Vandals DVDs I've witnessed. Of course these live show are usually are not meant to seek converts but are for the fans of the band. With that in mind, here you go fans, enjoy!—The Priss

VARIOUS
Secret Weapons of Kung Fu (Kung Fu Films)
If you're down with the Kung-Fu roster then you might want to check out this cheap (inexpensive) and cheap (inexpensively produced) DVD of their band's videos. I won't get involved in critiquing the videos except to make a few minor points. The best video is Ozma's "Korobeiniki" which ironically enough was submitted by a fan of the band. The Vandals are entertaining as usual, both in their videos and subsequent commentary (also included is a fan-submitted video of the Vandal's "My Girlfriends Dead"). Audio Karate's "Nintendo 89" is about as subtle as an 80s hair band video in its focus on women's body parts. And lastly, Antifreeze and The Ataris are punk rock boy bands (aren't they? Don't lie.). Of course, the DVD also features some commentary by bands as they're videos are playing, a few commercials and a movie trailer for the Kung-Fu film, That Darn Punk. Seven bucks from Kung-FuIrresistible Frank

R.I.P. WESLEY
As most of you undoubtedly know, since the above review was written, Wesley Willis lost his battle with Leukemia. He died on August 21, 2003. The first time I saw Wesley was in the summer of 1990. I was waiting for the North Ave bus. I was on my way to the newly opened Northside Tavern in the still very sketchy Wicker Park neighborhood where I had been hired as a cook. As I waited to board the bus at Clybourn and North, I noticed the man I would later know as Wesley Willis standing at the very end of the line. He had one arm full of poster board (the canvass for his colorful marker drawings of CTA buses and trains) and with his other hand he was relieving his bladder right there on the sidewalk. A few things ran through my mind at that moment and "that man is a genius" wasn't one of them. That was Wesley. After that I would see him around the subway stations drawing the el train and three or four years later Wesley was an underground star. I found that very hard to swallow. I was in the "he's being exploited camp" and witnessing Wesley perform with his backing band (the ultra cheesy, testosterone-fueled Wesley Willis Fiasco) did little to change my mind about that. Many years and head butts later, however, I did change my mind about the role Wesley played in his own rock and roll fantasy and the role of those people who made it possible. Wesley was a giant personality and those magic marker posters were and still are very cool. I should have bought one—Chris Auman

The Show Must Go Off! Zebrahead Live at the House of Blues reviewsZEBRAHEAD
The Show Must Go Off! Zebrahead Live at the House of Blues (Kung Fu Films)
Kung Fu must kick out three or four of these DVDs a night. All shot pretty much the same and delivered in the same format and sold to kids, I would imagine. That's capitalism baby. Gotta love it. I think this was shot at the same show as the Matches (see my review above). Zebrahead is a pop punk band that for some reason, in addition to a singer, has a dude who inserts a shouted rap into each song. This serves as a way to really fuck up the rhythm of the song and to be really grating on my nerves—PC Jones

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