Sound: While there are very few bands out there that give you a glimpse of the rebellion or anarchy you might have witnessed in the early days of punk, Canada's Propagandhi seem to be holding strong. After about 20 years in the business, the band that meshes punk, thrash, and hardcore rock together still manages to churn out releases that are gritty and thought-provoking. Its latest DVD Live From Occupied Territory: An Official Bootleg features footage taken at a benefit concert back in 2003 for the Grassy Narrows Blockade and the Middle East Children's Alliance, and the majority of video isn't actually about a concert at all. Instead, the band dedicated time to educating viewers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the preservation of the Grassy Narrows First Nation's way of life.
It's a gutsy move to use most of your DVD features for documentary material, but Propagandhi has always been a bit more fearless than the average band. Yes, there is about an hour-long concert show (shot by fans with hand-held cameras), and it does feel as street as DVDs come. Most of us have experienced intimate club experiences where crowds are scrunched together and the sound system is less than perfect. You get that in full with Live From Occupied Territory, and it actually fits the band perfectly. With any other band it might seem cheap and unwatchable, but Propagandhi does manage to make it cool.
The 21-track setlist includes The State Lottery, F--k The Border, and Stick The Flag Up Your Ass -- all of which are performed with consistent energy and received with equal enthusiasm. While not all of the lyrics are audible at times -- particularly when bassist Todd Kowalski sings, but plenty of politically incorrect lines slip through to make it still highly entertaining. // 8
Overall Impression: If you haven't been a fan of Propagandhi in the past, the band's latest DVD might not immediately draw your attention. It's primarily due to the do-it-yourself camera work that might be too distracting to enjoy the concert. While the band does have an enjoyable set, seeing the same camera angle (looking up at the site of singer Chris Hannah's head) for most of the concert might not be enough for some.
There will also be those who hate the idea of having political ideas shoved down their throats, but the Propagandhi DVD is actually presented in a smart way. There is little said about it being a benefit concert and the music really does take the spotlight. The band leaves the documentaries to do the talking and it gives the DVD a nice balance in the end. // 8