Calexico is a small town on the United States-Mexico border. The border itself features prominently in the make up of this band, from the music and the artwork to the inspiration for many of the songs off of their most recent album, Feast Of Wire. This DVD gets the essence of this unusual band across very well indeed.
For those who do not know the sound of Calexico, it is a conglomeration of pop, country, rock and their huge Mexican influenced Latin tinge. Mariachi, a form of Mexican music incorporating many and varied instruments, many of which are only played in Mariachi, is perhaps their biggest influence. Not only does the DVD showcase this often ignored musical genre through a bonus documentary, but Mariachi Luz De Luna appears on stage with Calexico, most notably on Cancion Del Mariachi.
The main bulk of the DVD is the performance from November 2002 as part of the Beyond Nashville Festival. The stage is filled with musicians and their instruments - guitars, drums, trumpets, harps, violins and some that are less recognisable.
The concert starts with Wash and strides through songs of the Feast Of Wire album. Sonic Wind and Sunken Waltz are captured superbly, both in sound and visual format. Calexico really come alive when the more Mexican based songs are reeled out - Across the Wire, Si Tu Disais and Aires Del Mayab with the sublime Lulu Olivares. These are interspersed with pop beauty on songs like Not Even Stevie Nicks.
The haunting stringed strangeness of Black Heart contrasts with the high noon, cowboy desert feel of El Picador, all trumpets, sombreros and Spanish guitars. As the concert progresses and you slowly get absorbed into the passion of this band, it seems to become better and better. The musicians are first class and some of the guitar playing is out of this world and is captured very well, staying on the guitar players' hands at times so you can appreciate the dexterity and talent of these mens' fingers.
The concert ends with an 11-minute rendition of Crystal Frontier which covers the American, Mexican and Spanish aspects of the band and the evening.
Calexico are a breath of fresh air. They could be equally at home playing with alternative country artists, at festivals, with rock bands or on the streets of Mexico - their adopted home land that is portrayed so beautifully in their music and captured so elegantly on this disc. It is a show piece for all that can be good in music DVDs. It is a new format that has yet to be exploited to its full potential, but if bands keep releasing concerts and documentaries of this calibre, then they can only get better.
On the bonus documentary Border House the band talk about the influence of Mexico on their songs and the title of their album. The big theme that they like to talk about is contrast. The contrast between Mexico and The United States, the contrast between the technology of the two countries, the poverty in the two countries and how they are so close yet so different. I think that it is the contrast in their music that makes this band so damn enjoyable to watch and listen to.