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Phantom Planet – Chicago, Chicagoing, Chicagone DVD Review

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Somewhere in deepest outer space is the asteroid Rheton. It is inhabited by people 6 inches tall and they are at war with the dreaded Solarites. But that’s a whole other Phantom PlanetDVD review since this one is about the rock and roll band known as Phantom Planet as they journey to Earthbound Chicago to play one night only – without a mute girl to fall in love with in sight.

The main event for Chicago, Chicagoing, Chicagone is an appearance at Schuba’s Tavern, which is a great venue. The DVD really does a great job putting a person right there with many shots of the crowd and views from the back of the club. The great camera work should help make up for the Live At The Troubadour DVD release from a few years ago that is scorned by even hardcore Phantom Planet fans.

Who are these fans? They appear to be nicely dressed college students with two girls for every boy. I’m glad to see college rock is not completely a thing of the past. The main event begins with a glimpse into the Phantom Planet tour bus which features lots of soy, alcohol, skulls, and laptop computers. If any Kiss-like debauchery happens it’s left to our imaginations.

I like seeing the mundane events before the show. I know I’m not watching some B movie that’s supposed to be taking place in outer space.

The show itself is good workmanlike rock. There aren’t any transcendent moments, but the band is still good.

Alex Greenwald tries real hard and the band works up a good sweat, but maybe the disconnect between video and being there is too great to overcome, even with a proper directing job. Jump cuts are held to a minimum which humanizes the viewing experience. I really do feel like I’m in Schuba’s just hanging out, drinking beer, and watching a band. Maybe the band still needs the lunatic spark that former drummer and songwriter Jason Schwartzmann brought to the group. The band plays tracks off each of their records and they also throw in a left field cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” that seemed more like an attempt to show off their indie credibility than it did true appreciation, although I guess it does fit with the more hard-edged sound they’ve adopted upon Schwartzmann’s exit. I know there are way too many audience sing-a-longs and other participatory events.

Chicago, Chicagoing, Chicagone has some extra goodies for the listener. Another full show is included from Tokyo, Japan. The “1st Things 1st” and “By The Bed” videos are included. A couple of songs are included from their very first show. Their cover of the Beastie Boys “Sabotage” is rather manic and hilarious.

Photos and photos and more photos are included. If you nod off you might just wake up thinking you’re watching some annoying relative’s vacation slides. I’m being too mean. The photos are nice, some of which were submitted by fans, but isn’t the point of video for there to be movement? I would have liked more documentary-style footage of life on the road with Phantom Planet, but photos are probably just as well since a rock tour is such an ephemeral moment.

Chicago, Chicagoing, Chicagone is available through the Sony Music Store.

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About Wally

  • http://www.thebeautifullull.com Tom Johnson

    Cool, Wally! I was wondering how this was, having also been burned by the Troubador DVD.

    Are you aware of the offical bootlegs the band sells here? The Troubador set is represented properly there with a longer, 11 track version, as well as another more recent show and a set of demos.

  • http://www.wallybangs.blogspot.com wally bangs

    Tom,

    I was unaware of the bootlegs. That’s pretty cool. If you are a fan of the band, I would highly recommend the Chicago etc DVD. I like Phantom Planet, but I don’t think I would classify myself as a big fan. I’d probably go see them live just based on the DVD though.

  • http://www.templestark.com/blog Temple Stark

    Wally,

    I point you to the Alabama music review site of Advance.net.

    Your review’s up there, loud and proud. Please go and tell your contacts that hundreds of thousands more readers will now have access to your review.

    Signed. The Beav.