Reviews Pelican Live in Chicago 06/11/03 DVD


Live in Chicago 06/11/03 DVD

2005 sees the now Los Angeles-based label Hydrahead Records embark on yet another new endeavor, this time into the realms of limited edition performance DVDs by artists on their roster. The first is a 21 month-old concert by Pelican, performing several months before the release of their debut album.

The show is comprised of four songs, three taken from their excellent Australasia album and the other from their eponymous EP. The band does exactly what they have built their reputation around: perform heavy, crashing wave-like soundscapes that comfortably position them as the middle ground between Scottish epic rockers Mogwai and their doomier record label daddies Isis. Their sound is perfectly captured during the second song, "Drought," and the band actually begins to perform by the final piece, "Australasia," but you would be forgiven for not noticing as by this point you'll no doubt have your head tilted at a ninety degree angle, screaming "PAN OUT YOU BASTARD!" at your television screen.

While the music itself is excellent, the performance and quality of the film lessens the product considerably. The band themselves are largely statutory onstage, with little movement aside from the almost obligatory slowed down head banging and rare attempts to engage the audience throughout the majority of their 40 minute set. This is not an uncommon accusation for instrumental bands, or those unfairly tarred with the "post rock" brush, to receive, however Pelican live, at least in my experience, can be highly active and exuberant, able to effortlessly draw the viewer in. They totally fail to do this here. That, arguably, has as much if not more to do with the poor camera work. Often unfocused, regularly jerky and prone to zoom in on random body parts for longer than is necessary, this feels like one of countless live videos you can download from Soul Seek, filmed by the fat bald guy at the back of the hall with his cheap Sony video camera (there's one of them at every gig, they must have an underground network of some kind).

This is by no means a bad release for what it is. If it had been released as a standard release DVD and the quality had been as Blair Witch esq. as it often is then it would undoubtedly have garnished heavier criticism, but it's intended simply as a raw snapshot of the band for those just desperate for anything new. The "limited to 1,000 copies" sticker on the front pretty much guarantees it will not be around for long, so the pre-existing fans along with the eBay entrepreneurs will be keen to buy this now, but for anyone else, keep your money for the new EP due for release later this month.

5.3 / 10Neil
KFAI - Undead
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5.3 / 10

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