Big D and the Kids Table - Built Up From Nothing [DVD] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Big D and the Kids Table

Built Up From Nothing 📀 (2014)

Silver Sprocket

While Big D and the Kids Table have always been a prolific ska band, quality control has been an issue. For every Gipsy Hill, there's a Porch Life. Such is the case with their triple—DVD set, Built Up From Nothing. A collection of documentaries, live cuts and music videos, it's a mixed bag.

Frontman David McWane made a point of taping the band as much as possible over the years, and viewers can see him experimenting with editing on early tour footage as a means of alleviating boredom. His interest in DIY filmmaking led to one of the set's better scenes, in which McWane and friends break down how to budget for touring, merch and an independent band's finances in general. The D have been around nearly 20 years, and while they sure have a lot of songs about getting wasted, they also know a thing or two about stretching a dollar.

But while those scenes are interesting on their own, it's a slog to get to them. "Built Up From Nothing," from the first disc, is awfully unfocused despite its meager one—hour running time. McWane talks about the band's early years on the road, emphasizing impressionistic imagery over journalistic details. Lengthy montages also pad out the set. The same thing happens for the rest of the documentaries.

Remember Enhanced CDs? A lot of them would offer behind—the—scenes studio footage if you popped one into your computer. You'd watch them once, and then never again. Footage of the band tracking Strictly Rude or Shot By Lammi gets repetitive real quick; more commentary would have helped.

The third DVD is the strongest, as it sticks to live footage and music videos. Again, McWane's interest in filmmaking yields some interesting concepts, like the German Expressionism of "Deadpan" and the simple yet elegant romanticism of "Known to Be Blue." The concert videos could maybe be culled (too many versions of "LA.X"), but it's neat seeing the band in so many different locales, with and without stages or even electricity.

Taken as a whole, Built Up From Nothing just doesn't add up. The Bouncing Souls are another punk band fond of home recording, but where Big D just threw the raw footage on a DVD, the Souls used their videos as a starting point for the moving Do You Remember? documentary. Given a little more interviewing and editing, this could have been a much more effective viewing experience.