This one goes out to all the Nickelback fans in the crowd. Wait! Don't go! Dammit, I lost them early. Well if you're still reading, then you're probably a genuine Nickelback fan or perhaps haven't heard much of their music. For the uninitiated, Nickelback is a modern rock band that formed in Canada in 1995. Since then, they've looked past (a lot) of detractors to become one of the best selling musical groups of the decade. This concert film captures their headlining spot on the "Rockin' The Rally" Show at the Sturgis 2006 Bike Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.
I've already mentioned the band's detractors so I want to address them right away. Nickelback has long been accused by mainstream music critics of being unoriginal and of pandering to the lowest common denominator. Perhaps they aren't the most sonically adventurous band but they know their way around a good hook and that's often enough for the casual listener who just wants to sing along with the radio (guilty as charged). In any case, they've proven themselves to be a critic-proof band as evidenced by the 35,000 screaming fans who attended the Sturgis show. The audience witnessed a 12 song performance covering many of the band's biggest hits. Here's the set list:
Woke Up This Morning
Because of You
Side of a Bullet
How You Remind Me
Figured You Out
Approximately half the set list came from the album 'All the Right Reasons' which the band was touring behind at the time. The rest was culled from their previous two albums, 'Silver Side Up' and 'The Long Road', while their earliest two albums were ignored altogether. The concert started with a few establishing shots of the band walking towards the stage and then launched into the music right away. Banter between songs was kept to a minimum as Chad Kroeger, the lead singer, kept churning through the set list. One of the few times that Chad spoke up, he was able to contextualize 'Side of a Bullet' which led to one of the more intense performances of the night. The song was written as a tribute to Pantera's Dimebag Darrell who was shot and killed onstage in 2004 by a fan. Even the song's guitar solo had been derived from outtakes of previous Pantera recordings. Other highlights included 'Never Again' and 'Too Bad' which allowed the band to get a little rough around the edges and present a more aggressive sound.
The stage show consisted mainly of pyrotechnics and projected images of the band on a backing screen. During 'Photograph' they broke from this pattern to project childhood photographs of the band members which was a nice touch. To further jazz up the proceedings, the concert was shot using multiple cameras (including one on a helicopter) which created a nice collage of long shots and close-ups of the band members. The whole production was edited together in the MTV style du jour with slow motion and black and white shots being employed throughout. Another editorial choice was a bit more puzzling. Although I don't approve of the idea of censorship, I have come to terms with it. However, this DVD had one of the strangest examples of censorship that I've ever encountered. Once I got past the fact that Chad was bleeped every time he cursed, I noticed something incredibly odd. There were a number of ladies in the crowd who were apparently allergic to clothing and so had taken their shirts off. Fortunately, they all had the good sense to wear black bras or bikini tops under their shirts. A closer look made it quite apparent that the bras and bikinis were made of pixels. That's right, someone actually took the time and effort to fashion digital bras and bikinis in a variety of styles to cover up the rampant nudity instead of going with the standard-issue black bars. It's a tough job but I guess someone's got to do it.
The concert was presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. Since the show was shot in high definition, the image was mostly sharp with vibrant colors. I did notice a few instances of grain but I believe this was due to the source video and stylistic choices rather than a problematic transfer.
There were 4 available audio options: 2.0 Stereo, 5.1 SRS Circle Surround, 5.1 Multichannel and 5.1 DTS. I chose to view the concert with the 5.1 Multichannel option and was treated to an excellent audio mix with nice separation across channels and a healthy thump to the bass. It was also good to hear a reasonable amount of crowd noise in the background. I'm of the opinion that concerts are first and foremost live documents of a joyous time so any effort to excessively sanitize the recording by removing all background noise or crowd chatter does the event a great disservice.
There were no subtitles on this release.
The extra features on this release included a Documentary which turned out to be an 18 minute long interview with the band intercut with shots of the band interacting with crowds during their shows. The band members came across as hard-working professionals who like putting on a show for their fans despite the general hassles that accompany tours. After the documentary, I viewed a Photo Gallery which is exactly what it sounds like. It was presented in slideshow mode which gave my clicker finger a break (lazy finger!). This was followed by a 5 minute long piece, Sturgis 101, which provided background on the Sturgis Bike Rally in South Dakota where the show was held. From what I could see, Sturgis really becomes biker central during this rally with a wild time being had by all. This piece also explained how Nickelback got their name. The bass player used to work at a coffee shop and often gave his customers a 'nickel back' in change. This suggests we were just one career choice away from having a band named Wouldyoulikefrieswiththat storming the charts. The final extra was the music video for Rockstar which was an amusing novelty featuring everyone but the band singing the song.
Nickelback put on a show for 35,000 rowdy fans and were consummate professionals about it. They were light on banter with the crowd but made every word count especially when presenting 'Side of a Bullet', their tribute to Dimebag Darrell. The whole production had an excellent audio mix which is critical for a concert film such as this. Some salty language and nudity was censored in a creative manner which I found more amusing than annoying but you've been warned. This release will definitely play well to fans of the band. Recommended.
An alert reader (thanks Greg!) has brought to my attention that there may be two versions of this release. His copy has a "Parental Advisory" and "Completely Uncensored" sticker on the cover like the product pictured above while the version I reviewed has no such disclaimer on the cover. The uncensored version reportedly has all language and nudity intact. If having a completely uncensored version of the show is important to you, please look for the disclaimer on the cover.