Widespread Panic-Live from the Backyard: In Austin, TX (2002) (NTSC)

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Released 5-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
DVD Credits
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Cast-The Band
Featurette-Panic Pastimes
Interviews-Crew-Meet The Crew
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 157:11
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:22)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Drumm
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring John Bell
John Hermann
Todd Nance
Domingo Oritz
David Schools
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $59.95 Music Widespread Panic


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, during the "movie" extra.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, fans sing the bands songs during the credits.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is the second live DVD from US blues/jam group Widespread Panic to be released here in Australia. This is a little bemusing, as tracking down a Widespread Panic CD in this country is nearly impossible. That's a little bit of a shame, because these guys are a very talented band. This concert, recorded in Austin, Texas on the 20th of July 2002, features a slightly different line-up from their previous DVD release, Live at Oak Mountain. This was brought about by the death of their lead guitarist Michael Houser at the tragically young age of 40. Guitarist George McConnell is a "special guest", doing lead guitar duties, while saxophonist Randall Bramblett has also been added to the line-up for this performance.

    Interestingly enough, there is only one song overlapping between this 160 minute concert and the previous 150 minute Oak Mountain concert. That is quite impressive, and a very good thing for fans who want to see as much of their favourite band as they can - these guys are all about value for money. Unfortunately, the set at this concert is not quite as good as the Live at Oak Mountain set. The music just does not seem quite as free flowing or as natural - it is more rehearsed than before. That is not to say that they are bad - far from it - and the thirteen minute jam session more than proves their improvisational talents beyond doubt (as does the 20 minute drum/percussion solo that follows). Probably the easiest way to put it is this: while Live at Oak Mountain will win them new fans, Live from the Backyard is more for the existing fans.

    At only 20 minutes shy of 3 hours, this truly is a treat for fans. There are very few bands around today that would even come close to being on stage for this long at a live performance - and this is only the DVD of that performance. They are an immensely talented band who get together to really play music, and to jam with each other. The audience is along for the ride, and what a ride. The grinding rock/blues numbers just keep coming providing fans of the band and the genre with more than they could ever have hoped for. If you like blues, this DVD is highly recommended. If you happen to be a fan of Widespread Panic then this is a must have. Others should check out Live at Oak Mountain first.

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Track Listing

1. Weight Of The World
2. Down
3. Tall Boy
4. Rock
5. Little Lilly
6. Sleeping Man
7. Trouble
8. Doreatha
9. Sometimes
10. Bayou Lena
11. Give
12. Old Neighborhood
13. Get In Get Out
14. Stop Breakin' Down Blues
15. Jam
16. Drums
17. Pickin' Up The Pieces
18. Christmas Katie
19. Action Man
20. Old Joe
21. Blue Indian
22. Imitation Leather Shoes

Transfer Quality

Video

    It is a good thing that this DVD is mostly about music, because there is only one word to describe this video transfer: horrendous. There is absolutely nothing to like about it - in fact it looks more like a web-cast than a DVD transfer. This may well be a result of squashing almost 160 minutes of video, along with a full-bitrate DTS audio track and two high-bitrate Dolby Digital soundtracks onto the one disc, but the result is truly terrible.

    Presented in NTSC at 1.66:1, this transfer is NOT 16x9 enhanced - despite the back cover of the DVD claiming it is. The aspect ratio may or may not be correct - it is impossible to tell, and I could not find any information on the technical details of the recording.

    The transfer is not at all sharp. In fact there are a couple of camera angles that are downright blurry. There is constant noise in the image, most likely video noise caused by low lighting conditions, and this does not help the sharpness one bit. Shadow detail is not too bad, and the entire stage tends to be well defined, but with all the other problems, it may well have been better if it had simply disappeared. There is quite a bit of noise in the blacks, but this is probably more video noise, rather than specific low-level noise.

    Colours are typically concert-like, being awash in all the hues of stage lighting. On one occasion, the producers decided that it was too boring to just watch the performance so put in some strange fractal patterns (note to concert video producers: we are watching these things for the performances, not to see how inventive you are, so keep your silly ideas out of them) in all varieties of colour, and these are well represented.

    There is quite a bit of pixelisation, especially on high noise areas, and quick camera motion more often than not leads to a blurred image. There are no film artefacts, but as the concert was shot on video, that is to be expected. Aliasing, despite the general lack of resolution and definition, is a huge problem. I cannot recall one shot that did not involve aliasing. It is constant, very noticeable, and very annoying.

    There are no subtitles on this disc at all. It is really a shame that music DVD producers are not using subtitles all that much for lyrics, because it can be quite helpful to non-fans.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 76:22 between Chapters 13 and 14. There is a fade to black about twenty minutes earlier that would have been a better place, but it may well not have been able to be moved for reasons of space. Hiding layer changes in live concert discs is almost impossible, so this one is not too bad.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is an excellent audio transfer. There is only one real problem and it goes away after "set one" is complete at around 50 minutes.

    There are three audio tracks present on this disc. All are the original concert performance in English, available in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps), Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (also at 448 Kbps), and in full bitrate DTS 5.1 audio. The surround-encoding on the 2.0 track would seem to be a mistake, as it collapses the mix to the centre speaker, and the only benefit is slightly greater crowd ambience. I recommend forcing stereo decoding if you need to use the 2.0 track.

    Vocals are clear and easy to hear (making out what is actually being sung is another matter, but that is entirely due to the singing style). The instruments are well spread out across the front soundstage, and there are no problems picking out the one currently carrying the melody. The sound is delivered with precision, and there are no issues with distortion. Audio sync is spot on throughout the transfer and never causes an issue. The only downside comes during "set one" which lasts for around the first 50 minutes. It is a considerable hiss that can be heard almost constantly, only occasionally being overridden by instrumental solos. The cause for the hiss may well be background noise (possibly crickets - it is hard to tell), and seems to be tied to the enabling and disabling of the vocal microphones. From the start of "set two" onwards it is no longer a problem.

    The surround channels in the two 5.1 soundtracks are used in the now-typical concert DVD style where they carry a light reflection of the front channels, and crowd ambience. They make the experience a little more immersive, but really do not add all that much to the soundscape.

    The subwoofer is well used, either explicitly in the 5.1 tracks, or via bass redirection on the 2.0 track, carrying a good punch to the kick-drum, and a decent hum from the bass guitar. Nice work.

    So, which is the better soundtrack? The answer is the DTS by a very slim margin, as all three tracks are very good. The DTS just seems to have a slightly smoother sound, while the Dolby tracks are just that little bit brighter. It is a subtle difference, but if you have DTS decoding ability, you will appreciate it.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are only two extra on this 2 disc set, but one is enormous, and dedicated fans will love it.

Menu

    The menu is not 16x9 enhanced, is animated, themed around the concert, and features Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

The Movie (97:11)

    Located on the second disc, this is over an hour and a half of interviews, and footage of the various band members doing what they do in their time off. Dedicated fans will think all their dreams have come true at once, but for others it can get a little dry as it is a lot of unrelieved interview footage, and can become a little tedious. The menu allows it to be played all as one, or splits each individual interview topic up into its own small section. Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Photo Gallery

    Also located on the second disc, this is 40 pictures of the band, the crew, the concert venue, the crowd, and virtually anything else that could be snapped at and before a concert.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is Region 0 NTSC, and is identical the world over.

Summary

    Widespread Panic are an excellent band, and this is a superb concert. It is not quite on the same level as their earlier Live at Oak Mountain DVD, but is still a great blues/rock recording. A must have for all fans (despite the video...)

    The video quality is utterly terrible, looking more like a web-cast than a DVD. There is lots of noise, even more aliasing, and quite a bit of blurriness. The only saving grace is that you'd be buying this disc more to listen to than to watch.

    Fortunately, apart from an annoying hiss during the first part of the concert, the audio is brilliant, with all three soundtrack choices being top-notch.

    The "road-movie" extra is really just a collection of interviews and "behind-the-scenes" footage, but at over an hour and a half, fans will be more than pleased.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-555K, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersRochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)

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