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Hell of a Lot Better Than the First DVD by SJR. - 84%

woeoftyrants, January 10th, 2007

I don't know about you, but I personally thought that SJR's first DVD was pretty shitty. Sure, the venue was impressive, and it contained a considerable amount of energy; but there was little variety in the set list, which seemed to linger on a bit long anyway. All of the songs were from the first album, and everything seemed to clash together halfway through the set list.

Fortunately, things picked up with "Live at CBGB." The legendary, under-sized club is the perfect setting for the raw, energetic performance of the band. There's an intimacy with the audience missing from the first DVD; people are crowd-surfing, circle-pitting, climbing onto the stage, and Phil seems closer to the audience this time. Furthermore, the sound is better: clearer, louder, more direct. (With the exception of Phil's vocals at certain points. I'll get to that.) The energy of this performance, crowd and band, is something that's hard to come by in today's metal world, and is a perfect example of a true, raw, passionate musical performance.

As far as the band's actual performance goes, they're on top of things. The first thing I noticed is the band's vigor; Stage energy is through the roof, especially Hank III. The guy's a fucking machine. The band don't walk around too much, considering the size of the stage. But you know what's up when you see the sweat dripping from all the headbanging. However, the most important thing is the music, and it's executed perfectly for SJR's approach. Drums are spot-on perfect and clear; guitars crunch tightly, and Hank's bass is dirty enough to round things out. Unfortunately, Phil has some bad moments: weak screams, totally ridiculous statements in between songs, and constantly running out of breath in between lines. Now, given, his energy is on the same level with the rest of the band; but that's no reason to mix up lyrics or say something totally stupid in between songs.

The set list is better, too. SJR, thank God, don't play for a fucking hour; that would be total overkill. Instead, they play a 10 or 11-song set, resulting in about 30 minutes, split between the better cuts from "Use Once and Destroy" and some of the more well-known, anthemic songs from "A Lethal Dose of American Hatred." Some parts are shortened for live purposes, but it works better for the course of the show.

"Live at CBGB" also has some extra features, as well. There's a selection of music videos, mostly from the most recent album; and also a short documentary that gives personal interviews with each member, and gives viewers a good look at the band's life on the road. (I'll come out and say that Phil makes a total ass of himself... but that's expected.)

If you were disgusted with SJR's first DVD, "Live at CBGB" should help turn your opinion around. Better performance, better features... better DVD.