The first volume of what looks to be an annua-er, the beginning to an indefinite series of Skate And Surf DVDs highlighting the (formerly?) annual punk/emo/hardcore/etc. music event in New Jersey is fairly ambitious in spots but an occasional swing and a miss just the same. The disc compiles 23 videos from 13 bands with, despite its sparkling picture and isolated sound, produces rather mixed results.
In each video, which uses "SRS Circle Surround Sound II," the makers manage to capture the band without any crowd noise interference whatsoever. While this makes for clear audio and vocals -- for once! -- high enough in the live mix, it actually comes off irritating and unnecessary for some bands. Gabe Saporta of Midtown's voice consistently misses notes and at points, cracks, in both their contributions, "Like A Movie" and "Give It Up." The same goes for Andy in Hot Rod Circuit in one of the band's better tracks from Reality's Coming Through, "Fear The Sound," and it just about kills the emotion of the song because of its cringe factor, though Casey Prestwood does his usual rocking out.
Other bands manage to keep their voices and instruments in tune, and thus the sound works well for Piebald ("Long Nights" and "American Hearts"), an unsurpisingly fun set from Andrew WK, in which he brings up a few audience members to rock out with him, even putting one younger fan up on his shoulders, and MxPx, who play the tempos you'd expect in "Chick Magnet" and "Punk Rawk Show," which is fun but could've certainly included material a bit later in the band's career rather than rely on early catalog staples. Boys Night Out actually keep the tempo for their shot in "I Got Punched...," and Coheed & Cambria play "Three Evils" to a T (and with none of Claudio's high-pitched aural needles). The video for the Bouncing Souls' set isn't shot amazingly and it hurts its overall quality. Slightly Stoopid add a background noise Sublime tribute and Armor For Sleep put forth two snooze-inducing additions.
After each set, some random guy (crew member? intern?) that we're never really properly introduced to does short interviews with each band. Usually they're pretty boring with the band looking rather disinterested, though Andrew WK talks about how great it was that he was able to bring up audience members after being told by festival officials he wouldn't be able to. The confirmation of his genuity is a nice touch but can't save the interview feature overall from acting as mild filler to the DVD.
There're multiple camera angles you can take advantage of but it's questionable as to how quickly its novelty lasts.
The cartoonish introductions to each set, as well as the disc's general intro and outros are pretty cheesy, with a generally hokey carnival theme that plays off that painted male character on one of the Asbury Park buildings (here's where you call for my head because he has a name I'm not aware of).
Generally speaking, the DVD plays it safe too often, unnecessarily cutting crowd noise completely out and relying on just too many "song staples" from bands. The former is especially notable when the band being filmed is missing notes and performing slightly under par. Though we are given between an hour and an hour/fifteen in total actual live footage (roughly a full set from a headlining band), a lot of the interview footage could've easily been swapped out for more bands and thus given us a nice, epic compilation of videos and an even more greatly diversified offering.