The Mae-Shi "Lock the Skull, Load the Gun"

If reckless enthusiasm and unabashed idealism in DIY ethics were a college course, than the Mae-Shi would be its happy-go-lucky T.A. to Fugazi’s stern, taskmaster professor. In a little over three years, the L.A. quintet have put others to shame with their breathless recording and touring schedule. And while it seems the band is laying low following a second national tour and the release of the Heartbeeps EP this past summer, the band has done their fan base a favor by releasing another chunk of their spazzy, synapse addled spazz-pop, this time in the form of a full DVD.

The DVD features more than 30 music videos from the songs found on the band’s first full length, Terrorbird. While some of these videos are simply laughable slices of homemade disasters using mini-cams, a few of the videos are startlingly creative and often humorous. The animation on videos like “Vampire Beats,” Body 2,” and “Power to the Power” is consistently impressive. Both videos for “Takoma the Dolphin is AWOL” are hysterical and well done, the first one seemingly ripped straight from the pages of a “Histories Mysteries” script, while the second one features an epic retelling of the song set in a bathtub with plastic army men and dolphins in stop-motion animation.

What the videos may lack in subtlety and high production values, they more than make up for it with their creative energy and original concepts. The other main component to the DVD is a hour long documentary of the band’s first cross-country American tour, dubbed the “Celebration Tour” wherein the band advertised that they would play anywhere, for anyone, for $100. While the documentary is a mess of shaky camera work, cheap cuts, and dim lighting situations, it nonetheless captures the band and their dynamic live show very well. One show finds the band playing to absolutely no one except the kid they met through the file-sharing service SoulSeek who they had to sneak in, while another scene finds the band playing in the bathroom of Pittsburgh art gallery while curious onlookers stand by the urinals. In addition, it features a few low budget diversions, such as the bands trek up a Colorado mountain in search of the elusive “terrorbird” and plenty of van philosophizing.

In addition to the videos and the tour documentary, the band has chocked the DVD full of surprises that you can find by following certain arrows (or if you are watching on Windows Media Player, can just get to using the title menus.). Some of these features are just silly (more van philosophizing), but some of them are actually pretty funny. One feature, entitled “You Can Awesome,” is a funny rip on kiddie shows like Sesame Street featuring one very over enthusiastic camp counselor, a stoner dude with a jar of pickles and an afro, and a cast of kids dressed like they’re stuck in 1985. Another feature, though seemingly out of place, is an actual home movie of brothers and band mates Jeff and Tim Byron playing on a playground (word to the Byron boys, your dad looks pretty fucking badass). It certainly doesn’t have the production qualities that other band documentaries may have, but Lock the Skull, Load the Gun has other things going for it that make it a rewarding watch. And while many may find themselves put off by the bands hyperactive spazz-pop assault, fans of the band will definitely appreciate the time and effort the band has put into this release.