The music business is a very fierce and competitive one, and record companies are always looking for a new way to promote their artists. It's taken the music industry a few years to get on-board with DVDs, but it's apparent that this may be the new frontier for music marketing, as evidenced by the new DVD release from the band The All-American Rejects, entitled Live from Oklahoma...Too Bad for Hell DVD!.
The All-American Rejects are a power-rock-pop band who released their eponymous debut album in Feburary, 2003. The band has met with success, as the album has gone gold, their videos have been featured on TRL (is that a good thing?), and one video was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. Live from Oklahoma...Too Bad for Hell DVD! can be seen as an attempt to cash in on the band's success, but the release actually serves a dual-purpose. First, it is a love-letter to the fans of the band, and secondly, it serves as a sampler-platter for those who aren't that familiar with the group. (I fall into that second category.)
The DVD is broken down into three sections. The primary offering on the DVD is a 44-minute concert, which was taped live at the Brady Theater in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 30, 2003. As the band hails from Stillwater, Oklahoma (more on this in a moment), the concert was a sort of homecoming for the group, which consists of; Tyson Ritter, vocals/bass; Nick Wheeler, guitars/keyboards/programming; Mike Kennerty, guitars; and Chris Gaylor, drums. This is a high-energy show, and frontman Ritter (who is a dead-ringer for "Smallville"'s Tom Welling) is very good at working the crowd and cheekily spouts all of the rock cliches. The band sounds very good live, as they work through 10 of the 11 tracks from their album (only the track "Drive Away" isn't performed here). The show opens with a musical cue from Beetlejuice (at least, I think it's from Beetlejuice. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but all of Danny Elfman's up-tempo scores sound the same.) and this sets the tone for this fun show. The band clearly has a great time, as they never slow down, and the home-state crowd clearly loves the music.
Following this, we have music videos for the songs, "Swing Swing" and "The Last Song". Both videos are good, as they offer a mixture of performances by the band, and semi-cohesive storylines, but neither is ground-breaking. (But both of these songs are very good.) Finally, there is an 11-minute segment entitled "Lost in Stillwater", in which the band gives us a tour of there house in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and then visits their old high-school and well as their favorite local haunts. The house is unbelievably nasty, making this the flipside of MTV's "Cribs".
The concert is presented full-frame and was shot on high-end video. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no major flaws, save for some occasional video noise. The picture is always stable and the colors are good. Even when the lighting is off, the action is still visible. The two music videos look fantastic, and exceed digital broadcast quality. "Swing Swing" is full-frame, while "The Last Song" is letterboxed at 1.78:1, but is not anamorphic. The "Lost in Stillwater" segment was shot on video and looks OK, but not great. This is clearly a low-rent affair, with some blurred images and video "wash out".
The concert offers the viewer a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 stereo. The 5.1 track is the way to go here, as it offers a very robust and full sound. There isn't that much in the way of spectacular surround effects, as the rear channels appear to mimic the front channels, but it sounds very good. The crowd noise emanates from each speaker and the guitar feedback offers nice bass response. The power of this track helps to enhance the "live" experience. The two videos each feature Dolby Stereo, but still sound very good, as the stereo effects are quite evident, and audio is well-balanced. "Lost in Stillwater" offers stereo sound.
It could be argued that any of the three segments of the DVD is a bonus feature. It should be noted that this DVD is apparently being sold in two forms -- one in a standard DVD keepcase and another in a CD jewel case. So buyer beware. I can only imagine that many will pick up the jewel case version assuming that it's a new album by the band.
The All-American Rejects Live from Oklahoma...Too Bad for Hell DVD! is a very nice DVD offering. I'm always in favor of anyone releasing music videos on DVD (as I never see any that I like/care about/recognize on TV) and this disc brings us two music videos from the band along with a full-length concert as well. In addition, I dug the music as well, as it reminded me of Jimmy Eat World. I hope that this release is a success, so that it will convince the record industry that compilations of this sort are truly appreciated by the fans.