Northstar - The Uncomfortable Camera DVD (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Uncomfortable Camera 📀 (2005)

Triple Crown

While they may not have opened the world of pop-punk to a large number of musicgoers, it's safe to say that anyone with even a passing interest in the recent era of the genre was an outspoken member of Northstar's devoted fanbase. Sure, the Alabama natives were obviously heavily influenced by the post-hardcore-induced vigor of the fertile Long Island breeding ground up north (the early versions of Brand New / the MovieLife / Taking Back Sunday / the Stryder), but they managed to sidestep nearly every possible cliché in their songwriting and style. As such, it's sort of appropriate that The Uncomfortable Camera is a post-humous DVD of live footage shot at Long Island venue the Downtown.

Not entirely surprising, the band's set leans heavily on the second of the band's two full-lengths, last year's Pollyanna. Seven of the eleven songs derive from the disc with just four appearing from 2002's Is This Thing Loaded? It would've been nice for it to be 6 and 5, respectively, as plenty will tell you Loaded was a solid debut for the act, but the more upbeat nature of the majority of Pollyanna songs here occasionally work better for the live setting, some of which are interspersed by short bits of grainy travel footage and narration by a member or so, but interrupt the allowance of the actual stage banter that took place during the show.

Visually, High Roller Studios shows crystal clear footage with quick pans to multiple angles of the band's performance. There'll be the occasional black and white grain filter, which is a nice touch since it's used somewhat rarely, though the camera cuts happen rather erradically and usually gives each angle no more than a few seconds at a time; still, it mixes things up well and makes for a hardly boring feature. The camera shows off audience participation as well, and they manage to pan to the kids at all the right, immensely intense finger-pointing times.

However, a certain major aspect of the band's performance themselves leaves something a bit to be desired. While there's certainly an inherent laziness in lead singer / guitarist's Nick Torres's voice on record, it's in the live setting here where his ability and stamina really come into question. Throughout just about every song, Torres fails to hit numerous pitches and, though he clearly is not under the influence of any substance, mumbles or stumbles over words, and often times the "la da" filler parts (f.e. of the latter, see "Broken Parachute"). It's downright cringe-worthy at points, and the same goes for the backups, which are equally atrocious at points. The band is otherwise musically capable, playing everything rather tight, but when it comes to anything vocal-wise, it's like an off night.

Extras on the disc aren't entirely worthwhile. The video for "Rigged & Ready" isn't anything but playing in the garage and glorified still shots of parking lot hangouts, the one for "The Pornographer's Daughter" is a nerd's self-respecting, unplayed-out fantasies, and "Pollyanna" is the band playing in a floating room made of Christmas lights. The acoustic songs are a nice addition and behind-the-scenes studio narration par, but that's as far as bonus material goes.

The Uncomfortable Camera is apt in showcasing the underlying hooks and subtle emotional attachment of Northstar's discography and subsequent live show, but it's marred by a slightly short running length, faltering flow and inconsistent vocals. Regardless, it's the final word for a band that should leave a comfortable remembrance for fans.

Broken Parachute
The Pornographer's Daughter