Live at the Smell: DVD

Dec 22, 2009

A collection of performances at the downtown club that has become somewhat of an institution to the latest generation, thanks to its all-ages status and cool downtown alley. I’ve gone there to see punk rock, pop punk, and pure noise bands and had a good time, without bouncers or booze, with shitty walls and bathrooms that somehow didn’t fall down, and good enough sound to have fun. Over the years, the alley and downtown in general got hipper, both within the underground rock scene and with yuppies and rave clubs down the way. I’m sure they don’t call it rave anymore, but it sucks just as bad, full of soon-to-be real housewives of OrangeCounty.

I don’t know the inner workings of the Smell, as there have always been club politics ever since the Masque. This video doesn’t go into that other than stating “go make some music!” This is more of a concert film with performances from The Mae Shi, FootVillage, Ponytail, Abe Vigoda, High Places, Gowns, BARR, No Age, HEALTH, and Captain Ahab. If you like those bands, you will be in heaven. Beautiful packaging, long sets from each band, and well-recorded sound. Great shots with footage from multiple cameras and angles capturing active band and loving audience alike, keeps the video fresh.

I’m new to these bands and most of it is too ethereal and stretching to grab me. My mind drifted to the fast forward button on a couple. Mae Shi felt like the best of the wave that’s breaking here, with cutesy singing and jumping, angular guitars, and peppy drums. Their energy is great, playing off the crowd and genuinely having fun with real catchy anthems. They’re not trying to build a castle; they just bounce around in one onstage. Captain Ahab closes the disc with a psychotic techno smash that’s awesome. Reminds me of a dream where Ted Nugent renounces his ways and picks up a laptop, trading in the whammy bar for pedals, while being reborn. –Speedway Randy (,