Sound — 8
The latest DVD release from Nickelback is a bit of an oddity, and that fact is in large part due to its ties to Walmart. But before we get into that, fans can be assured that in terms of musical consistency, the Canadian natives come close to sounding flawless on Live At Sturgis. Recorded in 2006 at what can only be called the promised land for bikers - Sturgis, South Dakota - the new DVD shows off exactly why Nickelback (love 'em or hate 'em) has become such a staying power on the rock scene. Chad Kroeger's live vocals at times actually top the studio recordings, while the more rock-oriented singles are given a nice dose of added distortion. The main issue with Live At Sturgis is that the no-holds-barred, gritty live show is transformed into a PG to PG-13, Walmart-friendly creation. In terms of the playlist, you forget how many hit singles the band has had until you hear Nickelback play them in a full concert. The band delivers 12 tracks, with hits like How You Remind Me, Too Bad, Photograph, and Never Again all making the cut. Out of all of the hits, there will be one where even the Nickelback naysayers will be nodding their heads in agreement. In the last half of the show Kroeger introduces the song Side of a Bullet, which was written about the horrendous death of Dimebag Darrell. A huge projection screen displays images that pertain to the specific songs playing (ie, Photograph shows multiple photos) throughout the night, and during Side of a Bullet we are given a thoughtful montage of Dimebag's life. Kroeger also explains that the solo in that track is actually a collection of various outtakes from Dimebag's work with Pantera. Okay, so we all know that everyone from AC/DC to Guns N' Roses is giving specific retailers exclusive selling power of their latest releases. Live At Sturgis is a Walmart exclusive (although it can be found at quite a few other stores online right now), and this is one DVD that's not a good fit for the squeaky clean megastore. First of all, every curse word uttered by Kroeger is bleeped out. Oh, of course, I did hear the word titties, so apparently that passes as okay with the censors. Then you've got the multiple flashed breasts that are being covered up by mysterious, shadowy, black bras. The editors must have had a ball coloring those all in. Given that these issues arise every few minutes, the DVD doesn't seem like it's in line with a Walmart exclusive - nor does it maintain the spirit of Sturgis.
Content — 9
As was said earlier, the musical content of Live At Sturgis is fairly solid and Nickelback fans should enjoy it thoroughly. Some might be bothered that solos are few and far between, but if the bonus section does include a portion of Daniel Adair's drum solo. It's hard to say why that couldn't have been kept in the main attraction, but there are a lot of odd choices made with this DVD. The extras include a behind-the-scenes look at Nickelback's life on the road, which details some of their daily concerns, whether that be the benefits of B-12 shots or finding a gym in which to workout. Another nice addition was a brief, but informative look at the Sturgis event aptly titled Sturgis 101. If you're not familiar with the annual biker extravaganza, that section will give you all the history behind the event. Other extras include photo stills from the concert shown while Photograph is playing, as well as the video for Rockstar.
Production Quality — 9
Live At Sturgis is a gorgeous-looking piece of film, thanks in large part to the 15 hi-def cameras that were used to record the event. You get every angle imaginable, and there are some pretty creative shots throughout. Some fans might be bothered by the fact that, like many other DVDs out there, there are just too many camera shots coming at you. Instead of holding the attention on Kroeger or a guitar solo or anything for that matter, the film will cut away to another image. They manage to ease off slightly during ballads like Someday, but it's still a bit manic. That being said, it's still beautiful to watch and plenty of effort was taken in the making of the DVD.
Overall Impression — 8
This is a release that Nickelback fans should definitely enjoy, and you might even find the over-the-top censoring fairly humorous. On the other hand, there are so many bleeps or shadowed-out breasts that it often takes away from the music itself. It doesn't necessarily live up to the uninhibited nature of Sturgis to go the Walmart route, but it was likely a decision by the record label. That being said, you get all the hits performed exceptionally well and a refreshing, down-to-earth look at the band when they're not playing in front of thousands of fans.