Live at Spectrum
LP (2006, Solar/Sonar)
In January 2005 five sweat-worthy rock bands put on a show at Sydney ‘trash palace’ Spectrum. Featuring Melbourne heavyweights The Nation Blue and Black Level Embassy, alongside Sydney indie playboys Further and Spod and Brisbane punks Grand Fatal, this DVD is a document of the event. Confusingly the feature runs backwards to the playing order on the night, giving the curiously unnatural effect of the audience waning with every band. Thus we begin with headliners The Nation Blue playing to a packed house. Guitar swinging, blood letting and body thrashing ensues in what’s become their customary visceral fashion. The stunning ‘blood–landing-on-the-audience’ and frenetic multiple camera guerrilla style filming is A-grade, and plants the viewer in the pocket of the band. Unfortunately the audio is a bit of a letdown, with the music and vocals often buried as the microphones capturing the event peak and fuzz out. Quite simply it doesn’t do the physical wrangling justice.
Fortunately up close these bands are a joy to watch. Tom from The Nation Blue ends up with a blood soaked face for his efforts, Further starts timidly but manage to end in a white-noise cacophony and a mirror ball wrenched from the ceiling in their hands, while Black Level Embassy forgo props in favour of ball-clenchingly precise intensity. Grand Fatal set the pace early playing hard to a small but appreciative audience, and close their set in smiles and sweat.
But amongst all the rock lordz it’s Spod who nearly steals the show. With constant crowd interaction (involving party poppers, sparklers, and a hilarious personal photographer that follows him into the crowd to capture him kissing girls), gyrating on-stage dancers, and, er, Black Level Embassy reappearing dressed as gang members to serve as his backing band, it’s funny and quality entertainment. It’s also the part of the DVD that translates best to the lounge room.
For the extras we get music videos from all five bands, as well as the infamous ‘Break a Leg’ montage from The Nation Blue’s stadium tour with the Foo Fighters, bringing the running time up to an exhaustive four hours. It would’ve been nice to see some behind the scenes action, interviews or even between song banter between sets. An insight into the machinations and obvious camaraderie that exists between these bands (who, let’s face it, will forever remain on the fringes of the mainstream) would be fascinating. The fact that they can personally shoot and commercially release this excellent DVD should be applauded and thanked. For what was over a year in the making, we pedal to the floor intensity, some laughs, some blood, and an overarching wish that we should have been there.
by Kilgore Nunce