FUN FROM NONE
As burned into my brain as all the great sets there is the image of Chris Habib stalking around the stage, aiming his jealousy-inducing Panasonic AG-DVX100 at every act. I've always been curious to see what Chris would make of his shooting, especially once I got an DVX100 of my own and realized how limited it is in rock-club low-light (still an amazing cam though) - whether he'd get overly gimmicky or just leave in all the whip pans and disorienting bounces as he changed positions, etc. The answer is that he solved all those problems really fucking well. Each 10 or so minute segment uses simple solutions, like freeze frames, modest digital effects, and off-sync editing, to basically remember, rather than replicate, the performances. I especially dig how Habib didn't fuck much with the color, instead letting the off-key, faded-pastel look of the high-gain mode persist, a nice reverse-psych counterpart to the music. If I had to find something to criticize, I'd say I'm not totally enamored of the drably b&w Hair Police segment, which I think plays a little too dramatic, but then I thought that of their set too (which sounded amazing regardless). But otherwise, Habib has nailed every segment.
My faves are the Nautical Almanac section, which captures their groping, awkward-pause-loving live set really well; the Wolf Eyes segment, which is pretty straight up and similar to the band's own Covered in Bugs DVD; the To Live and Shave in L.A. section, for which Habib's strobing slideshow perfectly captures Tom Smith's striated exhales, which even in person seem like stop-motion freeze frames; and, the Giffoni-Nyoukis duo, which is kind of a mini-miracle - I wouldn't have guessed Habib could truly capture the power of that great set, but exclt editing and a stark visual effect which makes Giffoni and Nyoukis bleed electronically into fuzzy white do the trick.
I haven't even made it to the 2005 disc yet - too much great stuff to watch and re-watch on Disc One. I can say that the titles and transitions are amazing (glitchy rotation of faded-xerox looking slates), and the bonus mp3's and iPod videos of every segment are also quite choice. Habib talks in his liner notes about wishing he could include more groups (no Sightings, Pita, Burning Star Core, Massimo, Fe-Mail, etc - just not enough room), and I wish he could've too, but there's enough in this package to spend a lifetime sitting still and staring at.