Filmed at 19 shows on their Summer 2001 tour, The Power of Salad tags along with Brian Chippendale and Brian Gibson (aka Lightning Bolt) from their home state of Rhode Island across the US to California. No venue (and I use the term “venue” here loosely) is left standing in the wake of their mini-van, DC’s Black Cat and a dozen or so house shows included.
The Power of Salad was shot on digital video and professionally edited so the quality of the footage is better than expected. The same can be said for the camera work, which puts you up close and personal for the show, often incorporating multiple camera angles. The sound quality is so-so but really it’s not a far cry from how they sound on record. That lo-fi camcorder audio quality all part of the charm. What this DVD doesn’t have in production budget it more than makes up for with intensity. I’d imagine this is the closest you can come to the true experience that is “Lightning Bolt” without actually seeing them live. Walls of onlookers surround you, entranced. A surging pulse swells behind you as everyone tries to get a peek of the action.
The unabashed skill of drummer Brian Chippendale provides for a very pleasing visual experience. He’s ultimately the star of the show. Urgent and technical, he drums like a runaway tractor-trailer carrying a cargo of speed across state lines. Bass player Brian Gibson stands in the background, in cool and collected contrast to Chippendale, hammering away at a three-string robo-prog melody. Combined, this drum and bass duo create rhythmically hypnotic (some might go as far as to say “dancey”) songs that literally work some audience members into a frenzy; no joke.
Lightning bolt are great at doing what they do and they do it without the pretension that’s normally implied when you call two musicians an “art rock” band. Watching this DVD stripped away all notions of “art rock” from my mind. Sure they started as an art school project but I can bet good money that right now they are upholding the punk rock ethos better than most “punk” bands I can think of.
In addition to the hour plus documentary, The Power of Salad has a few special features, which include a poster gallery, two lo-fi flashadelic music videos and a video recording of the last practice before tour. None to get too excited about.
All in all I’d highly recommend this DVD to anyone familiar with the band’s material or anyone who enjoys a destroy-it-all live performance. Before I watched this DVD I thought Lightning Bolt were pretty awesome (see equations above). After I watched this DVD I immediately checked the Internet to see the next time Lightning Bolt were coming to my town. As luck would have it I was off by a couple weeks, I just missed them. Hopefully they’ll come back soon.