Wow. If touring were always this boring, I think there would be a lot less bands on the road.
Mae’s first foray into the world of DVDs, From Toledo to Tokyo, is a film divided into three parts. The first is a documentary that covers Mae’s first year of serious touring, the second is a live performance in the band’s hometown of Norfolk, Virginia, and the third is a documentary covering the band’s tour in Japan.
The first part of the DVD is an hour and forty minutes of footage that will leave you yawning. Mae do not party (even on singer Dave Geminez’s 21st birthday), they do not participate in zany offstage antics, and they don’t have anything interesting to say. Most of the documentary is merely shots from inside clubs and inside Mae’s van with their own music playing in the background. The highlights include (and I shit you not) seeing wildfires in California, the band’s van getting stuck in snow, and a Mae fan telling the camera how he had the same textbook as Geminez in high school. Even the interview sections of the documentary are sorely lacking thanks to amateur questions. You get to hear the answers to such insightful inquiries as “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” and “What’s the best show you’ve ever gone to?”
Next comes a 40-minute live performance at the Norva in Norfolk. There are multiple angles, but the DV cameras seem ill-equipped for the house lighting, leaving parts of the performance covered in a red glow, like you are looking at the world through the eyes of the Predator. Mae do have stage presence (and drummer Jacob Marshall throws down some clever beats), but it often seems like they are listening to another band as their rocking actions don’t coincide with their soft keys and lightly distorted guitars.
The final installment of the DVD, which follows Mae’s first trek to Japan, may be the best piece it has to offer. The running time is shorter than the other two segments (25 minutes), the scenery is more interesting thanks to its foreign location, and it manages to mix live performance and documentary footage into one. Still, it is disappointing. The live footage is compromised of poor sound quality and shots that are often out of focus, while the documentary segments play like boring home movies.
Maybe if you are a fan of Mae you can forgive their dullness and the overall poor conception of this DVD. Otherwise you are stuck with a mammoth amount of footage that merely acts as a cure for insomnia.