Volume 4 in Kung Fu Films' hit-or-miss "The Show Must Go Off" series chronicles the little Chicago punk band that could, the Alkaline Trio, in their natural environment - The Metro, Chicago's premier club.
What the fuck am I saying? The Alkaline Trio's natural habitat should be [and used to be] the Fireside Bowl. But with popularity comes larger, more impersonal venues [although we can at least be thankful that this wasn't shot at the House of fucking Blues or something stupid like that]. So anyway, last Halloween the Trio cranked out 18 songs to a sold out crowd of ghouls and goblins, and 9 months later, this is what came out.
Right away, the DVD just seems a bit odd - the song selection is rather bizarre, and technical glitches abound. For example, the back of the box states "Band Commentary" as one of the features, but the option is nowhere to be found on the DVD's menus, only being accessible by starting the actual concert and then switching audio tracks using your remote control.
Okay, so it's not a huge pain, but it's just weird, okay?
As for the music - Matt Skiba's voice is fragile enough as the opening notes of "Hell Yes" ring out, and sounds torn to shreds as he bellows "I don't deserve thiiiiiis!" in the closing song, "97." Dan's contributions [a surprisingly strong "Take Lots With Alcohol," as well as "Maybe I'll Catch Fire," "Another Innocent Girl," "I Lied My Face Off," and a sub-par rendition of "Crawl"] all are pretty much on vocally, but Skiba tends to step on Andriano's toes vocally, throwing in his caterwauling, not-so-cleverly disguised as harmonies and backing vocals. This is most evident in "Crawl." The song sounds a bit off on the DVD until Skiba tries to join in singing, and then it's time to reach for the mute button. Not a good thing.
Musically, though, I have to give the band credit - with the addition of Derek Grant on drums, the tempos for a vast majority of these songs have skyrocketed. "Mr. Chainsaw" leaps off the stage in a frenzy, and a reworked version of "Trouble Breathing" kicks the band into Fat Wreck territory, machine gun bass drums a-blazin'.
As for the DVD's special features, they're nothing to really write home about. The band commentary is just Dan and Derek being strangely silent about the majority of the concert. Yup, you read that right, Matt's not even on the commentary track, so if you were looking for some lyrical insights you're turning to the wrong place. The Quint Split of "Mr. Chainsaw" [all five camera shots on the same screen at the same time] gets rather obnoxious, but the "choose your own angle" version of "Another Innocent Girl" is fun and makes you feel like you're really editing it yourself.
The DVD also contains some Behind The Scenes footage, which is too short and doesn't really show anything at all, besides some Halloween costumed attendees. There is also a photo gallery from the show on the DVD, but it's rather unexciting [except for the background music, which is the Trio's version of the Misfits' "Halloween" off their Halloween 7" they gave out at the show].
So basically, there's a once amazing but now rather decent live band being documented fairly well with good sound quality and multiple camera angles [as well as an excellent light show]. The biggest downfall with the DVD is the clumsiness of the special features that Kung Fu is touting so proudly. A worthwhile buy for fans, but if you only own one album [and it's Good Mourning, especially], don't bother.
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