The Queers – Alive in Hollyweird DVD Review

June 14, 2009

The Queers live DVDThis review took a little while to get written because a couple of the Big Wheel staffers that were at this show the night they filmed it demanded that they get to see this first before it was given to the review staff. They said that they remember how great that show was and then getting to relive it for a second time was a rush. This show was taped at the now closed Safari Sams in Hollywood as part of Hooligan High, which is the all ages version of Punk Rock Social Live.

The 4 camera angles that this show had on it does a respectable job of capturing the show while keeping it real without over producing it. For the first three songs it was hard to hold back and then by the forth song it got blurted out, “Gawd, I love The Queers!” This is the effect that this video will have on you when you watch it. The Queers throw down a solid performance which long time fans will appreciate and new finders of The Queers get a look at their new favorite band performing live. The sound quality on it is first rate which is no surprise when you look at the credits and see the name Ulysses Noriega who is known for churning out great sound on many commercial releases. The video has plenty of crowd footage, stage diving, crowd surfing which is an equal part of the fun at any show. Just loved the part where this chick gets on stage and takes a self portrait MySpace photo while the band is playing, it’s a crack up. That scene alone is a testament to how cool Safari Sams was, because at any other venue they would have had 6 security people rat pack you.
The Queers DVD
The commentary / interview portion with Joe Queer is pure gold. You get find out that the catalyst behind starting The Queers was Joe Queer seeing Black Flag for the first time at The Fleetwood. The sheer raw honesty and ethics that Joe talks about is a must see for any kid that wants to start a band or be in a band. He also talks about a restaurant business that he left behind to go back on the road in the 90’s. He ends by saying that if he gets board with the band, he will return to the restaurant business as he loves to cook. Suggestion, heaven forbid that The Queers quit performing live, but if they do, we suggest that you go find where ever he sets up a restaurant at and go have a meal there. We think that you will be just as impressed with the food since it will probably be just as good as all the great music that he has turned out over the years.

This is a video that will for sure be part of your video rotation. As a bonus you get a second CD with all the high quality audio from the show that you take with you anywhere, this has got to be one of the coolest features. With video of 32 songs performed live, you get a full dose of The Queers, this DVD over delivers. Look for this at your local record store or at

*** Special Southern California Alert ***
Punk Rock Social Presents:
The Queers will be performing live at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood on Friday June 19, 2009
and at Alex's Bar in Long Beach on Saturday June 20, 2009




Crips and Bloods: Made In America DVD Review

June 5, 2009

This is a documentary written and directed by Stacy Peralta, the filmaker behing "Dog Town and Z Boys"/"Lords Of Dogtown", original Team Zephyr skater, and co- founder of the Powell- Peralta skateboard company. Though his background is obviously deeply rooted in the Southern California skatebaording community, this film takes a look at a much daker legacy which was forged in Los Angeles- the infamous Bloods and Crips gangs.

Starting with what Peralta views as the roots of hard- core gang violence in South L.A., "Crips and Bloods" tells the story of early neighborhood "clubs," such as the Slausons and how some members of these early Los Angeles gangs were politicized after the Watts rebellion of the 1960's. It goes on to explain how African American political organizations such as the Black Panthers were actively surpressed by the F.B.I. under Hoover's COINTEL- PRO (Counter Intelligence Program) and how in many ways this eliminated alternatives to crime for young African Americans males while also putting many of their fathers in jail. Peralta and his interviewees explain what they see as a vicious cycle where many African American males are born into gangs and then eventually end up in jail or prison before being released back into their communities with little help in finding alternatives to the gang lifestyle.

Stylistically "Crips and Bloods" is similar to "Dog Town and Z Boys" in its fast pace. It also uses some of "Z Boys'" same editing techniques with obvious fast motion sequences. There are some added 3-D graphics that are generally affective but do get borderline cheesy at times, particularly when there are computer generated images of red and blue bandanas waving in the breeze. The interviews range from current Blood and Crip members to former senator and 1960's anti- war/anti- poverty organized Tom Hayden, as well as interviews with former gang members, social workers, parents of gang violence victims, and members of the Nation Of Islam. Perhaps the most articulate and moving of all of the interviewees is Kumasi, a former member of the Slausons Club, who became a political and community organizer. He mastefully articulates the social and economic conditions that gang members grow up in and how desperately they need alternatives to violence.

While the film is expectedly disturbing at several points, Peralta artfully shows meaningful insight into why Bloods and Crips continue to exist, while also telling the inspiring stories of a few people who were able to move beyond a violent lifestyle and use their experiences to make meaningful changes in their communities. While "Crips and "Bloods" does take an idealistic look at the problems and how they can be solved, nothing in the film is sugar coated. The overwhelming severity of gang violence is talked about thoroughly and no one is made out to be a superhero or without faults. Peralta has managed to make a serious political documentary which exposes an issue that Americans all too often ignore.




All Dolled Up – The New York Dolls DVD Review

March 1, 2009

Hair spray, go-go boots, glitter, make-up, lights, camera, ACTION! All Dolled Up: The New York Dolls, is a documentary that follows The Dolls through New York and the West Coast, and shows an intimate glimpse at the lifestyle that The New York Dolls led during the 1970s. Bob Gruen, a Rock Music Photographer, bought a video recorder in the early 70s, and he and his wife Nadya Beck went along with The New York Dolls on a tour documenting the off-stage and on-stage shenanigans of the band. Gruen and his wife shot over 40 hours of footage, but were kind enough to edit the best into 95 minutes of documentation. The entire documentary is black and white, and though shot during the 1970s, the quality of the film is really clean and almost flawless. The entire film maintains more of the reality of the road and off-stage events than the actual performances, all of which makes the DVD much more compelling and captivating.

The documentary starts off with the band mimicking a 1920s vintage styled intoduction that has the band members dressed up like mob gangsters, fleeing from the police. Each band member is introduced in a mug shot-like manner, and their names and alias' are given. It is a short but clever introduction, leading up to a viewing of the band performing on stage. The documentary frequently alternates from clips of The Dolls' performances, to clips of news anchors issuing segments on the band and the hype they have created, to personal and brief interviews with the band members throughout the tour. The topics of the interviews range from how the band members met one another, to how the use of make-up was introduced to them, and whether they believe they'll always remain close. Every interview is short and usually shot randomly, never really professionally and isolated from the chaos, but that's exactly what makes the interviews much more honest and intimate.

The performances go from Max's Kansas City venue in New York, to the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, to The Matrix in San Francisco, back to Los Angeles for the Real Don Steele Show, and once again back to their native New York for additional performances at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom and The Little Hippodrome. Each trip to each venue features the same types of things: groupies, crowds of people outside or inside trying to talk to the band, and alcohol. Perhaps the most interesting trip was to Hollywood for the Whisky A Go Go show, because it features the band going through the strip, shopping in a lingerie store, and hanging out backstage in their normal environment. The intimacy of the shot almost makes you feel like you're actually there with the band, which makes the DVD all the more credible and fun. The finale of the documentary features the ending to the intro, showing The New York Dolls back again in their 1920s mob gangster scene, fleeing the police in their getaway vehicle.

The DVD has such a personal and raw quality to it, that it brings fond and tender feelings upon seeing a young New York Dolls running all over the place, showing their love for Rock-N-Roll, and conveying it for all sorts of crowds. The band shows a lot of sass and personality, and captures what we all knew all along about The Dolls: that they were great, they were groundbreakers, and they rightfully share a place with all those before them who today continue to influence so many bands and musicians. The DVD is a must have, and a better look at the often misunderstood, New York Dolls.

Get it here: New York Dolls - All Dolled Up

-Stephanie M.-




Flipper – Live Target Video 1980-81 DVD review

January 28, 2009

When listening to Flipper, one can only imagine what types of circumstances and conditions prompted the sound of Flipper, and what types of performances were carried out during their showcase. Flipper Live is not your traditional live DVD, but rather a short collection of Flipper's performances in San Francisco during the early 1980s. Shows recorded at Berkeley Square, Kezar Stadium, and a display for San Fran's Channel 25 are all found in the DVD.

Each live show begins with a brief introduction that informs you about the setting and place, and what to expect from the speculation. The Berkeley Square performance resembles a band practice session; there are only a few people present to watch, it is situated in a small area, and the band members seem to be messing around more than they are trying to impress those who are present. However, it is this quality that makes the Berkeley Square showcase interesting to watch, because the spontaneous acts throughout the set are pretty entertaining.

Unlike the Berkeley Square performance, the showcase at the Kezar Stadium is more of the type of show you would expect from a band like Flipper, notorious for the type of peculiar and mesmerizing music they play. The brief introduction displayed prior to the show informs you that you should expect vocalist/bassist Will Shatter to appear calm and collected on stage, with the exception of a wine bottle he's drinking throughout the set. The setting of the show suits Flipper's music perfectly: it's dark inside, there's a few dim and strange glowing lights that occasionally surround the band members, and the frenzy of the music is clearly demonstrated in the behavior and mannerisms of each band member while they play. The performance is classic Flipper; chaos and mayhem on stage, noise produced that is somehow transformed into hypnotizing music, and a guitar smashed on stage that was bound to happen either way.

Among the bonus features is the song "Sex Bomb" which was performed for San Francisco's Channel 25. The Ch 25 performance will blow you away not just because of the performance of the song, but because Flipper seems to have cleaned up for it! Each member acts appropriately, the song sounds less disorganized than what Flipper fans are used to, and it seems as though the band members actually took the time to prepare for it. If that isn't enough to impress you, some cool and cheesy 80s effects are present and imposed onto the show, making it seem like a retro 80s music video for MTV. It actually makes the show that much more enjoyable.

If you've ever wondered what a genuine live Flipper experience would be like, then the Flipper Live DVD is probably the closest thing you'll come to it. The DVD demonstrates 3 different examples of it, all of which reassure our expectations of what a Flipper show might have been like. It is a DVD that would be good for your collection, seeing as how you get more than 1 live performance, raw music that crawls into your skin and takes your body over, and Flipper in their prime and hectic time.

Out now on MVD Visual

-Stephanie M.-


Return of the Living Dead Boys Halloween Night 1986 DVD

January 23, 2009

 Return of the Living Dead Boys Halloween Night 1986 DVD image"You know what there was 10 years ago? There was disco... we kicked the SHIT out of it." Frontman Stiv Bators provides this memorable quote in the Return of the Living Dead Boys DVD, recorded Halloween night 1986. Joey Ramone makes a special appearance on stage just to introduce them and start the show. The reunion of the Dead Boys in the live DVD further reassures us why Dead Boys kick ass, and why sitting through the DVD is completely worth it.

The performance is about an hour long, which is typical for most Punk shows, but what sets the Halloween performance apart is the classic quality of it. The recording is similar to other recorded shows of the 80's, in the way that it appears as though someone just happened to grab a camcorder and start recording away. It is that type of recording however, that gives the live DVD a raw and classic edge, and it's the only way the Dead Boys would have had it anyway. One thing you can be grateful NOT to expect though, is a crappy angle in which all you frequently see is the back of people's heads blocking the band.

Throughout the DVD, you see members from the audience scattering and creeping around the stage like a bunch of roaches, trying to dive into the crowd from time to time. Just as roaches are squashed and gotten rid of, roadies come to the rescue to get rid of the roaches nearly every time. It's just one of the many comical and memorable things to witness in the DVD. Among others, Stiv Bators wears a werewolf mask in the spirit of Halloween, Bators and a roadie dive into the audience and come back with their clothes completely annihilated, and Stiv Bators sings without any clothes on!

The Dead Boys play such a great show, that the DVD has no need for a high quality special effects type of production. The show alone is enthralling, and calls for nothing more but what you see and get from the DVD. The Return of the Living Dead Boys DVD is an incredible reunion worthy of watching, presenting it to you the only manner these boys of rock n roll would join together: Halloween night, amid the chaos and the living; the Dead Boys on the stage.

Out now on MVD Visual

-Stephanie M.-


American Hardcore DVD Review

March 1, 2007

American Hardcore DVD image
Since I saw AHC in the theaters the one thing  on my mind was the potential for special features. In my ideal world this would be a two DVD set with the second disc being all unedited interviews and full sets of live rare live footage. The special features that accompany the DVD do clock in at a little over 90 minutes which even I will admit is pretty generous. Most of the 90 minutes are taken up by interviews. While these segments are given a choppy editing job which often cuts off people mid sentence (and sentences that sound like they will be interesting at that) the subjects remain captivating. The highlights of the interviews are with Vinnie Stigma (Agnostic Front guitarist), and Edward Colver (early LA hardcore photographer). I must admit that I also was pretty satisfied by the footage of the director and writer pulling up to Al Barille's  (SSD) house and seeing that he still drives a huge black van.

The live footage consists of one song clips of Void ("My Rules"), Bad Brains ("Big Takeover"), SSD ("Boiling Point"), Jerry's Kids ("I Don't Belong" which cuts off as they go into "Is This My World?"), and MDC ("Corporate Deathburger"). All of the live footage is pretty intense with Bad Brains, Void, and SSD sticking out the most. The sound quality of these clips varies, but the Bad Brains and SSD footage seems to be taken from professionally made videos.

The film itself comes off as more affective upon re- watching. It takes a sort of reversed  Turner's Thesis (the idea that the creation of American culture was fueled on expansion to the Western part of the continent) approach to the history of hardcore. For Blush and Rachman Black Flag and the Circle Jerks were the frontiersmen who expanded their subculture across the nation and like the American pioneers who traveled West rather than East once hardcore punks established themselves on the other side of the the country there was nothing left for them to do and the original urgency was lost. Of course this means that the film makers fail to acknowledge the importance of anything that happened after hardcore expanded to New York, but nonetheless they do make a decent case for their argument and the raw live footage and interviews will capture the imagination of Punk rock nerds like myself.





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