Boat In The Smoke DVD (Music Video Distributors)
By: Vinnie Apicella
The veteran english punks let it all hang out here for an hour's worth of on stage commotion split between two years and different dives. The first is a full-length live concert recorded at Camden Underworld in March 2004 covering 16 tracks highlighting their later work. Eight additional bonus tracks appear from a 2001 show in Sunderland offering a welcome variety from their infamous BYO split classic with Hot Water Music plus a few unexpected turns.
Shrouded in darkness save for the band emerging amid revolving flickers of crimson and lime lighting, Camden Underworld was every bit a devil's pit for the bands audible dirty work for their usual rugged and rough brand of garage punk. Multi-angle lens work gives the viewer a better sense of being there, but in actuality, this place is small and the stage was uncompromisingly confining to the three visible band members -- though a fourth is listed somewhere in the details.
Sloppy in its finest step, Leatherface's music complies with the best of rock, punk and grunge led by Frankie Stubbs' choppy guitar chords and ringing high notes that seemed to dangle there like threads on a torn jean accentuating the gash and sticking like static. And there was plenty to go around where feedback came first in the form of overrated reverb rather than audience volume. Yet this leveled as the night wore on.
LF covered a short distance dominated by the dashingly handsome "Dog Disco" release of a year ago, then mainly hitting on "Horsebox" and "Mush" from 2000 on. The show was crisp, quick and caustic led by Frankie's uniquely defined gag, garble and croon vocal style and scratch and strum guitar chording, joined step for step by Laing's turbulent percussion and Burden's bass-beating. Mere seconds passed between songs where "Springtime," "Small Yellow Chair," "Little White God," "Plastic Surgery" all bled together in unity bearing their still sharp teeth to the welcoming enclave of stage front beer-swiggers, but blink and you damn near miss 'em. Breathless from the get-go.
The Camden Underworld set drew to a close with the popular "Hops and Barley," a sing along, drink along stomp that saw several from the audience clear space on stage to join in the full volume romp where Stubbs and co. were only too happy to share the set, if not a bottle.
The Sunderland bonus set featured classic tracks like the opening "Gang Party," "Wax Lyrical," "Grip," and "Not Superstitious," yet the sound quality was comparably inferior-- though the guitar parts seemed to gather steam since the beginning.
Lead screamer Stubbs sits for a personal interview to round out the DVD where he comments on how the band started, where they were, where they're going, and feeds studded commentary on topics like Emo, Warped Tour, favorite records, and musical tastes, from which he points out in an expectedly witty demeanor that he doesn't listen to Leatherface records-- "It's not healthy." But after an hour-plus dose of "Boat In The Smoke," I'd dare say the doctor visit and extra days off would be well enough worth the infection.