Widespread Panic-Live at Oak Mountain (2000) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 11-Sep-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Trailer-Don't Tell The Band
Menu Audio
Interviews-Cast
Gallery-Photo
Web Links
DVD Credits
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 153:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Christopher Hanson
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring John Bell
John Hermann
Michael Houser
Todd Nance
Domingo S. Ortiz
Dave Schools
Case PUSH-11-Dual
RPI $59.95 Music Widespread Panic


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

The difference between the blues music scene in Australia and the United States is staggering. There, a band like Widespread Panic virtual unknowns in this country can play to 20000 people. Here local exponents of the genre generally don't get much further than playing pubs. This is a real pity, because this type of music is capable of producing some of the most scintillating and spine-tingling aural experiences much more so than the more standard rock or country music.

Before taking on the task of reviewing Live At Oak Mountain, I had never heard of Widespread Panic. The only thing I knew about them from some very quick research was that their style was supposedly similar to that of Blues Traveller. Being a big fan of the latter band, it was with great curiosity that I placed the concert discs into the player and the curiosity was very much rewarded (who said that it was a bad thing?), for Widespread Panic are an incredibly talented outfit who put on an excellent concert that is all about the music.

In actual fact, there is not all that much in common between Widespread Panic and Blues Traveller, as while they are both blues bands (and both have recently lost members to untimely deaths), the latter are far more towards the country/bluegrass end of the blues scale with Widespread Panic being a far more rock-oriented blues band. It is also no real surprise that Widespread Panic have not received the same level of attention that Blues Traveller has, because while they are certainly imbued with immense talent, and are focused almost entirely upon producing brilliant music, they lack the more immediately satisfying melodic hooks of Blues Traveller, making their music a little more difficult to get into. But that is an effort well worth making, as they are a brilliant band. This concert is excellent, as the band move directly between songs for well over two hours. On almost all songs, they deviate from the "script" to jam for many minutes and this often works to spine-tingling effect. This is what a concert should be.

Finally, a note about the presentation of this concert. This two disc set is comprised of two single layer discs (despite the "layer transition may trigger slight pause" disclaimer - strange), and it is in NTSC. The low-profile nature of the band in Australia is most likely the reason for these choices, but regardless, this is a fantastic concert, and well worth checking out.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Imitation Leather Shoes
2. Wondering
3. I'm Not Alone
4. Climb To Saftey
5. Ride Me High
6. Makes Sense To Me
7. Airplane
8. Pusherman
9. Henry Parsons Died
10. Big Wooly Mammoth
11. Chilly Water
12. Thought Sausage
13. Red Hot Mama
14. Porch Song
15. Drums
16. Papa's Home
17. Surprise Valley
18. Papa's Home
19. All Time Low
20. Wish You Were Here
21. Flat Foot Flewzy

Transfer Quality

Video

If it were not for one big problem, this transfer would be of reasonable quality. Unfortunately, the level of aliasing present is enough to bring down the entire transfer.

Presented at 1.33:1, this transfer is not 16x9 enhanced. Given the filming location, and the composition of the shots, this is most likely the correct aspect ratio.

This transfer is not particularly sharp, although the filming conditions do not help being at night, and with relatively poor lighting. There is sufficient detail to make out the necessary action, but little more. Shadow detail is in the same category, where large dark areas will easily consume all within them. Again, there is sufficient detail to discern useful information, but nothing more. There is no low-level noise present.

Colours are heavily affected by the concert lighting. There are a few occasions where unusually hot lighting leads to blooming, but in general, the colours reflect the concert lighting well enough.

There are no compression or film artefacts at all. There are a few interlacing artefacts noticeable on close-ups of fast moving drum sticks (such as at 46:45), but the only real problem with the transfer is aliasing. It is virtually impossible to find a shot without aliasing. In fact, I had noted more instances of aliasing during the first song alone than in many full movies. Every guitar string, microphone stand, and drum stick consistently shows bad aliasing. Even the arms of the keyboard player are constantly affected by aliasing. The one consolation to all the aliasing, is that it almost never takes over the whole screen, displaying little continuous shimmer. It is possible, after a while, to shut the aliasing out, although those who are particularly annoyed by aliasing may want to check out this transfer before considering a purchase. Certainly the choice to release this as an NTSC set has contributed to the aliasing problem, but the severity of the aliasing present suggests that even a higher resolution PAL transfer would still suffer (although probably not to the same extent).

There are no sub-titles on this disc, and as the lyrics are really secondary to the music, that is not a problem.

Both these discs are single layer, with one "set" on disc one, and the second "set" on disc two. Discs need to be changed after 65:29.

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

Audio

This is a very good audio transfer. It provides an excellent showcase for the band's music.

There are two soundtracks present on this disc, both being the original English recording, in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 kbps) and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at 192 kbps).

Vocals are clear, although the singing styles largely make them difficult to understand. The instrument separation is quite good, and it is possible to pick out the individual sounds of most instruments. Audio sync is spot on throughout the transfer.

There are only two real differences between the stereo and surround tracks firstly the surround track provides a more "concert-like" feel to the audio, placing crowd noise, and light audio reflection in the rear channels, and secondly the surround soundtrack carries more bass. Both soundtracks provide a very wide and expansive front soundstage, and work it well, presenting a dynamic soundtrack that is a pleasure to listen to. It is really up to personal preference as to which is the better soundtrack I prefer the surround track for the better "concert" feel, although the more pronounced bass may put some off this track in favour of the stereo.

The subwoofer is well used in the surround soundtrack, backing both the bass guitar and the kick-drum to excellent effect. It really does add to the experience a little. The stereo soundtrack on the other hand carries considerably less bass, and never really moves the subwoofer beyond a murmur.

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

Extras

The extras presented here are interesting, if brief.

Menu

The menu is static, themed around the band and the concert, is not 16x9 enhanced, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Interviews (16:25)

Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, these interviews are broken into three shorter interviews (available separately, or as a single compilation), taking two band members at a time. The interviews are a good way to get to know the band members better, especially for new fans.

Photo Gallery (3:27)

This is a montage of photos of the fans' perspective of the gig set to some music from the concert. Presented at 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this is one of the most interesting photo galleries I have encountered on DVD.

DVD-ROM / Web links

This provides the links to the band's website and the record company's website. They can also be accessed via a clickable link if you put the DVD into a DVD-ROM, and load the PC Friendly software (although the effort of loading and then unloading the useless PC Friendly software is probably far greater than noting down the URLs and manually entering them into a browser).

R4 vs R1

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

This disc would seem to be identical the world over - right down to the NTSC picture format (even in the UK). Grab it where you find it cheapest.

Summary

Live At Oak Mountain is a fantastic concert by a brilliant band. It is also the last chance that Widespread Panic fans have to see guitarist Michael Houser in action, as he recently passed away.

The video quality would be decent, if not for the constantly high levels of aliasing. Note that this presentation is in NTSC, so capable equipment is necessary.

The audio quality is very good, presenting an extremely enjoyable concert experience.

The extras, while brief, are quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Thursday, December 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, 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
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K

Comments (Add) NONE