NOFX: Backstage Passport: DVD

Oct 29, 2009

NOFX seems like a band that has handled its minor celebrity pretty well. This documentary follows them as they travel across the globe, attempting to play spots they (nor any other band) have ever played before. It is a compilation of six episodes on one disc, along with a bonus disc containing about twenty extra minutes per episode (where all the good stuff is). It is very entertaining to watch, though not always comfortable or agreeable. It is a basic made-to-be-televised twenty-two-minute show, complete with censored obscenities (even on the DVD?), a theme song... even a shitty, cheesy title (for a band that named one of their albums Heavy Petting Zoo, they can do better than Backstage Passport).

They travel to South America, Asia, and Africa. The more obscure/dangerous the situation, the better. They almost always draw a huge crowd, rarely get paid, and create their own good times any way they can along the way. There’s a lot of frustration with foreign cultures, some occasional annoying attitudes (from both the band and locals), but, largely, they seem excited and appreciative to be playing small places and still packing venues.

Kent, their manager, often gets very drunk and entertaining on camera. (The bonus footage, which was much better than the stuff edited into episodes, provides a little more background into his problems with drinking, and it ends up a lot less humorous than the stuff edited for TV). I found Kent and Smelly to be by far the most interesting members of the group, and both of them probably get more screen time than any other member of the group (or at least deserve it).

There are corny dramatic moments (and genuine ones as well). There are times when you cringe with discomfort at their actions. The constant NOFX music in the background was extremely annoying. In the end, however, it was fun to watch, and offers an interesting look into how the band functions while walking that funny, awkward line between obscurity and celebrity. They obviously appreciate what they have and love the way they’re living. Backstage Passport demonstrates it well. There are lots of drugs, lots of mayhem, lots of lousy promoters, and lots of entertainment crammed onto these two discs. –Will Kwiatkowski (Fat, PO Box 193690, SF, CA 94119-3690)