NOFX Backstage Passport (Sharp Entertainment/Fat Wreck Chords)

dvd_nofx.jpgThe tour is a good-natured comedy of errors which had an element of the perverse from the start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The punk rock band NOFX is one of the most successful independent rock groups of all time, having sold over six million records worldwide since 1983. Perhaps more remarkably, they’re still at it despite having acquired homes, wives and children along with gray hairs and middle-aged spreads. In 2008 the eight-episode series NOFX Backstage Passport documented their 2006 world tour for Fuse TV; it is now available on DVD.

The tour is a good-natured comedy of errors which had an element of the perverse from the start; the band members planned their destinations by circling cities on a map where they’ve never played, in countries where they’ve sold few records and punk rock is not particularly popular. The segments are constructed from the standard combination of live-action footage and talking heads interviews with a lot of music to keep things lively, and the result is appealing in large part because the band members don’t take themselves overly seriously. In comparison would be with the documentary feature Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which follows the well-experienced members of the metal band Anvil on a similarly ill-fated tour, the main difference is that NOFX Backstage Passport is a lot more fun.

Troubles begin in Latin America: a concert is sabotaged by equipment failure, crowds prove uncontrollable, and in Peru the police get involved after a concert is cancelled. Visa troubles almost keep them out of Malaysia, leaving the manager to straighten things out and feel put upon (something which recurs regularly). In Singapore, band members decide to cultivate their internal children by defying the draconian drug laws; fortunately, they don’t get caught and thus never find out if the well-publicized penalties should be taken seriously.

And on and on. As the first American punk band allowed to perform in China, they draw a huge and enthusiastic crowd in Beijing who quickly pick up the art of stage diving (main point: you do it during the song). But the local promoter claims there are no profits so they don’t get paid’ apparently the 15,000 people or so in attendance were all there with counterfeit tickets or comps (yeah, right). A concert in St. Petersburg is a disaster, leading to short tempers and a ridiculous argument with a skinny kid who claims Mafia connections, followed by copious alcohol consumption and the expected consequences.

But it’s all presented with a cheerful spirit, and as Neil Simon once pointed out, nothing is funnier than someone else’s misfortune. The band members remain engaging even when acting badly, and seem to have granted the camera crew more or less unlimited access because they are caught in some truly unflattering moments. | Sarah Boslaugh

The two-DVD set of NOFX Backstage Passport (one disc contains the eighth episodes, the second extra footage for each episode) is distributed by Fat Wreck Chords. Further information is available from the Fat Wreck website http://www.fatwreck.com/store/detail/740 or by calling 415-336-4801.

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