NOFX: Backstage Passport (DVD)

I’ve never really understood the fascination with concert DVDs. They always seemed to be a bit like dry humping to me – not even close to the real thing. The whole point of a going to a show is the experience: sweating your ass off, getting beer spilled on you, leaving the club with ringing ears and your voice shot. Thankfully, NOFX’s latest video tour diary – originally aired on Fuse TV – offers so much more than the standard concert footage. In fact, the only time you really see them performing is when the show is going badly, someone’s getting smacked with a guitar, or fans are learning to stage dive (badly) for the first time.

The DVD’s focus is on the band’s attempt to play far flung countries they’ve never been to before to try and experience the danger and adventure of the NOFX’s first DIY tours in the early and mid-80’s. Backstage Passport follows the band to countries in South America and Asia, as well as Israel, Russia and South Africa. The adventure they plead for in the first episode is definitely found (at one point the band’s crew, surrounded by police at a site where the promoter failed to get permits, has to be smuggled out of the venue in the back of a flatbed truck with suspicious cops in pursuit). There’s also standard NOFX fare like trips to an S&M club, shady promoters (at one point it looks like the band is losing money at every show), a little bit of drugs and a somewhat functioning alcoholic tour manager.

Even if you’re not fans of the fiercely independent and surprisingly successful band (or even of punk music in general), you can’t help but be drawn into these episodes. There are even a few touching scenes, like the band’s visit to a day care center in a South African ghetto or front man/bassist Fat Mike’s attempts to get his three-year-old daughter to talk to him on the phone when he misses her birthday. But this is a band that wrote “Murder the Government” and “Kill All the White Man,” so it’s not all homesick tears and group hugs. We can only hope for a sequel.
Rating: 8.9 out of 10

NOFX: Backstage Passport / 2009 Fat Wreck Chords / 5 hrs. 30 mins. / http://www.fatwreckchords.com

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