NOFX – Backstage Passport – DVD Review

NOFX
NOFX

For the first time ever punk veterans NOFX did something that might be actually considered “going commercial” by creating a show that was broadcast on TV in 2008.  Last Spring NOFX teamed up with real music station FUSE TV and put out the hilarious yet eye opening series called NOFX Backstage Passport.  The two disc DVD was finally released by the band’s very own Fat Wreck Chords so that now fans can watch this very original show over and over again.

The eight episode documentary that took place from September of 2006 to November 2007 featured NOFX on tour in unfamiliar countries showcasing not only their live performances to their fans but also aired their down time and behind the scene troubles trying to get from one country to another.  The result is a show that is like a punk rock No Reservations complete with drunks, drugs, and disaster.

Any fan of punk rock knows who NOFX is; now admitting you are a fan of NOFX is another thing.  Formed in 1983 the band achieved their own success doing things their way with no commercial help.  Having never signed to a major label, they ignored requests for radio airplay as well as refused to have their music videos aired.  They are godfathers of punk to many and have toured the world as well as have been a staple to the punk rock summer camp also known as the Van’s Warped Tour.

I have been a fan of NOFX since I got my first taste of their adaptation of punk rock music when I was in high school.  14 years ago I purchased a VHS movie put out by them called Ten Years Of F*cking Up.  I swear I watched that video until the tape wore thin.  Their live videos were entertaining in a sense that they just did not care.  Not just seeing them on the television, I have caught them numerous times live as well, I guess you can say like these guys a little.

The moment I heard that they would be putting a show on FUSE TV I made sure I set my DVR to record because I knew I was going to enjoy it.  From the first episode of NOFX Backstage Passport started I was hooked.  With only eight episodes of course I wanted more but thankfully the two disc DVD is now a part of my collection so I can go back and enjoy their tour.

The intro song performed by NOFX pretty much summed up the entire series with:

“We’re NOFX, screwing up since 1983 / These days we’ve got mortgages and families / So we’re going on a sketchy tour / No country is too obscure / We’re going to drink and golf and fight and snort / We’re NOFX this is punk rock passport”

Just alone in the first episode, it is learned that the series would revolve around NOFX playing in countries that punk bands normally would never tour in.  While a comedic gesture it also proves to be the band’s biggest challenge ever.

The band, as if no one knows, includes Fat Mike, Smelly, Eric Melvin, and El Hefe.  Along side the band, their manager Kent was introduced (who becomes a major part of the show, mostly because of his drinking habits) as were multiple crew members (Rugly, Wilkie, Carlos, Jeff, Ryan, Limo & Jay) who are more like family over employees.

Seeing the band at the beginning of the episode leave their actual families for the tour proved that these careless musicians are people too and I almost felt bad for them.  As exciting as a world tour would be, I can only imagine how tough it is to leave your loved ones.

Hanging ten, on a camel...
Hanging ten, on a camel...

The reality of their idea soon is shattered at some of the first episodes when the fans actually turn on the band during a couple of shows because of an instrument mishap as well as a failed joke turned insult.  It’s wild to think that such a thing could happen to a band like NOFX but it did and fans were pretty pissed off at the band.  If that was not bad enough a later venue the band showed up at had no idea that they were even supposed to play and the band was soon forced to leave the country because of death threats their mindless promoter was receiving.

The promoters NOFX worked with to get this tour working were novice if not scam artists.  Some of them kept promising Kent money and never delivered while others just continued to dish out lies.

It was actually sad to see the band get screwed out of money from those brainless promoters, yet humorous to see Kent negotiate with them sternly, fueled by anger and sometimes alcohol.  Kent alone stole the show at times especially during the one episode where he just kept drinking and eventually was carried away.  At the end of the series Ken makes a wise and bold choice that will change his life for the good.

Though the band seemed to have nothing but disappointment during most of their tour in many of the episodes, there were a handful of stops that they made the best of.  From hanging out with curious youth who become excited at one of the roadie’s tattoos to cuddling with wild animals and even swimming in the Dead Sea, NOFX and crew seem to ignore the bad and enjoy their surroundings with what they had.  They even gave acoustic apologies to fans outside their hotel at one point due to a canceled show that quite possibly even lifted the band member’s hopes more so about the situation they were stuck in.

During one of the episodes NOFX randomly made friends with a local while hanging out at a bar.  The local had never heard of NOFX let alone punk rock music and the band was quick to invite him to see their live show for a real taste of punk rock.  The smile alone on the local’s face during the show was priceless.  The band even went so far in one country to self promote themselves reflecting their younger days as an unheard of punk rock band in California.  After all, many of the countries NOFX toured in had no real idea who they were let alone sold their material at local music shops.

From missing band members to strange green powders and some S&M whipping and pain, you clearly are involved in punk rock shenanigans like none other.  Throughout the series I was actually wondering to myself if the band would ever make it home alive and had a very hard time waiting in between episodes to see what happened next.  Thanks to DVD there was no waiting between episodes.  I watched the entire series in one sitting and was ok with my decision to kill an afternoon doing so.  I seriously could talk about this show all day but I really do not want to ruin it for you.

The first disc contains all eight episodes with the band touring in such countries as Brazil, Peru, and Russia.  The second disc is loaded with over two hours of bonus footage from each episode that soon loses it’s appeal.  I really wish the footage would have been included with each episode almost like an uncut version but other then that I have no complaints.  There is also a enclosed NOFX passport full of photos, set lists, and other added memories from the tour.

The release on DVD was supposed to be uncensored but somehow the original footage was lost so the broadcasted episodes on disc one is exactly how it was seen on Fuse.  The deleted scenes however are full of wholesome cussing and fowl mouthed hilarity.  The series were limited on cable thanks to censorship, commercials, and week long waits but I assure you this DVD will make up for all of that.  Loaded with hilarious adventures this DVD will not disappoint and if you think all musicians have it easy, think again.  Granted NOFX traveled in no man’s land at times and narrowly escaped with their lives, this is visual proof of how badly a world tour can go and how awesome the experience can be by taking chances.

Want to buy a copy?  For only $15 it can be yours.  Head over to Fat Wreck Chords to buy a copy online.

DVD Specs:

DISC ONE:
1: Episode 1: Brazil, Chile Watch
2: Episode 2: Argentina, Ecuador, Peru
3: Episode 3: Japan, Singapore
4: Episode 4: Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, China
5: Episode 5: Indonesia
6: Episode 6: Israel
7: Episode 7: Russia
8: Episode 8: South Africa

DISC TWO:
Bonus Footage on all eight episodes

A classic NOFX video:

One more:

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