[12 January 2009]
For those who know Stomp only through its pop cultural references like commercials for Coca Cola, Honda, and Target stores, their appearance on America’s Got Talent and guest spot on Step It Up and Dance, or You Tube hits, Stomp Live provides a fuller experience of what Stomp is all about. Stomp is a dynamic performance, and the DVD is a complete package of performance and background/context.
The previous Stomp DVD, Stomp Out Loud was released in 1998 and the large format movie, Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey in 2002. Over the years Stomp has played over 10, 000 shows around the world including nightly performances on Broadway and at the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas. But for the first time on DVD, Stomp Live provides a full live performance as well as a variety of extra features that provide background and context to Stomp.
The full live performance ranges the percussions of a variety of common items from the expected brooms and body parts to plungers, poles, Zippo lighters, basketballs, bags, and bins. From simpler rhythms like those in “Zippos” to complex percussions like those in “Suspension” Stomp Live is an endless array of sounds and sights. And the objects used to make this spectacle and sound range from the more mundane to the seemingly impossible: kitchen sinks.
From the beginning there is a kind of hush to the production, a backstage silence that builds anticipation. No doubt the theater adds to the ambiance as Stomp Live is performed in the place where many of the Stomp routines were created. The lighting stays true to theatrical effects and the use of 11 cameras and HD filming give the effect of a theater performance. The stage itself looks rustic and real, gritty and working class, while also having a magical quality, especially as the “Suspension” props are utilized. And the grit is apparent.
Even at the beginning of the performance there is actually some dust to sweep. But clean up is also an act in and of itself. After spreading sand at the feet of the Stompers, another moment for humor, and after the rhythms made in the sand, sweeping serves an actual function in addition to the art. And the puddle left after “Sinks” provides not only a playground for “plungers” but a mop up bit, as well. One piece using water bottles is not listed on the DVD menu, but in this case provides a unique and haunting sound – it’s a nice change of pace from the drumming/banging.
Stomp is much more than just music made with common and odd objects—it is also a theatrical performance with humor, personality, and movement. For instance, during “Hands and Feet” Paul Bend enters the stage with a broom and plays the clown. He’s the butt of most of the jokes throughout the performances.
In another instance of humor, during a “stomp off”, when challenged, Andy Patrick steps forward and offers simply a “ping” and a shy shrug. Some sketches are more comedy than rhythm like “Scrapers” but the comedy connects with the audience, live and at home. Moments like these make Stomp Live a total performance beyond the synchronized rhythms and the kinesiology of these rhythms. The personalities and physical comedy tie together the musical segments and on the DVD these aspects are captured well.
DVD extras include an interview with Stomp creators, Stomp tour previews, behind the scenes footage, a history of Stomp, and performer bios. These features illustrate the diversity represented on Stomp Live which brings together performers from several of Stomp’s touring productions and long-running shows. One feature also previews the ways in which Stomp is being reworked for 2009.
As packed with interesting information as the extras of the DVD are, the menu is a bit awkward (though visually appealing), and the array of extras detract from each other. However, in the extras viewers can find out interesting information about performers including their lives before and in conjunction with Stomp. In a space so often dominated by men, it is worth mentioning that two of the Stomp Live performers are women, and they hold their own with the men, further proof of the diversity of Stomp performers and their wide appeal.
All in all, Stomp Live is a whole lot of stomping. Without the DVD scene selection feature, Stomp Live would be too much banging about in one sitting. But because Stomp Live is neatly segmented and labeled by type of object/instrument, it’s a pleasure to watch in segments.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/68818-stomp-live/