Augie March - Drones & Vapid Ditties
Dir: Augie March
Looking at the way 'Drones & Vapid Ditties' has been packaged, it's almost as if Augie March don't want you to pick this up. The back cover openly tells you what you'll find inside is "a shambles" and there's no hint they mean that in jest. In two short paragraphs, the blurb also boasts of the band's success and deliberately patronises you over whether you picked up on the cleverness of the DVD's title (Drones & Vapid Ditties, geddit?).
While I'll admit to loving Augie March's studio albums, particularly 'Sunset Studies,' every time I've seen them live their shows have been dogged with sound problems so I was interested to see the live material. That is if you can actually manage to navigate to the section of the disc you're after. 'Drones & Vapid Ditties' contains one of the most frustrating DVD menus I've yet encountered. A man walks across the screen while over his head thought-bubbles display things about Augie March, one at a time. You have to be quick enough to take the option you want as it appears, or you'll have to wait for him to come around again.
When you manage to see it, the 10 song set of Augie March at the Meredith Music Festival is actually quite well filmed, getting in close to the band as they play cut with some nice shots of the crowd and grounds. It's a pity the sound quality is atrocious and that the band are either unable or unwilling to engage the large audience. The live material in the 'On The Road' section is better, particularly the television performances on 'The 10.30 Slot' and 'The Sunday Afternoon Arts Program.'
Fans will be glad to have all of the band's videos from the 'Century Son' EP through to recent singles from 'Strange Bird,' although many will find them fairly dull visual companions to the songs. There's also a making of 'Sunset Studies' documentary, but it's probably only of interest to extreme Augie March enthusiasts.
I'd like to say 'Drones & Vapid Ditties' could have been so much better, but perhaps DVD is just not the right format to capture a band best played through headphones in the dark. They might make good albums, but Augie March are just not very visually engaging. I can't say they didn't warn me. 'Drones & Vapid Ditties' would be only for the most ardent of fans.
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