Following the conclusion of the storyline in the "Fight For Your Right" music video, the Beasties break into a liquor store, drop acid with groupies, and get into a breakdance competition with time-traveling future versions of themselves.
A great concert ruined by a concept that simply doesn't work
Bootlegging has a long tradition in music. The practice of bringing in anything from a tape recorder, to a camcorder, to a minidisc recorder, to a camera phone to capture the memories of a concert has been a big part of fan communities for as long as the technology has existed, and a truly well-recorded bootleg can intimately convey a stunning live performance, with all its glorious imperfections and emotions.
Adam Yauch aka MCA aka Nathaniel Hornblower attempts to tap into this, albeit on a much larger scale, with the concept of the film being that it is comprised of 50 hi-8 cameras handed out to audience members. The result is "Awesome; I F*ckin' Shot That!", a film that is billed as "an official bootleg", and is intended to be a genuine, intimate and fan-centric concert film.
Unfortunately, the film comprehensively misses the mark, with almost every aspect of the production amounting to a frustrating and ultimately unrewarding concert film. There are several factors in this
the first being the cameras themselves. With all of the cameras
handed out being Hi-8 cameras, the quality of the footage is frustratingly low, not only being consistently inferior to a decent unofficial bootleg, but often bordering on unwatchable. Stage lighting often reduces the Beastie Boys to unfocused silhouettes, many of the shots (perhaps a majority) have stuttering frame-rates, and zoomed camera shots from the back of Madison Square Gardens make shots unbearably shaky, with the enthusiasm of the amateur cameramen making many shots unwatchable, rather than giving the sense of contagious and spontaneous excitement that Yauch strives to create. Adding to the strife is Yauch's editing. Some truly shocking camera shots, apparently the pick of the bunch, are used throughout the film, and the editing is so fast-paced that it is near-impossible to pay attention to any single shot at any time. There are occasional breaths of fresh air - several friends of the band were given DV cameras and prime positions close to the stage, giving clear and enjoyable shots, especially when compared to the rest of the material, but these shots are few and far between. In addition to this, Yauch adds effects to the film towards the latter half, used on occasional songs, with the effects used making the footage even more frustrating to watch - they are hardly impressive, often giving the images the appearance of a cheap photoshop filter, and long overstaying their welcome (typically, they are used for the entire duration of a song.)
All of these elements combine to create visuals that are quite simply, at best an epileptic's nightmare, and at worst utterly unwatchable. The film is not only a struggle to watch, but is also unrewarding, and even the greatest Beastie Boys fan will find this a frustrating film to watch. The film is somewhat redeemed by the other elements - the performance itself is dynamite, with the Beastie Boys in fine form, and playing a fantastic setlist that delivers hit after hit, from across their body of work. The sound mix is also very good, with thumping bass and a great live ambiance, although at times some of the lyrics are indistinguishable. The film also has occasional touches of humor, which make it much more enjoyable at times. But ultimately, the film is such a labor to watch that these merits really do not make it worthwhile. It is quite a shame that Yauch fails so drastically here, as the material given suggests a thoroughly captivating and enjoyable live music experience. But the ambitious scope of the film backfires on Yauch, and instead of an intimate and honest concert portrayal, it is a thoroughly detached experience, with the rapid-fire barrage of frustratingly poor camera shots making the film simply too difficult to be enjoyable.
A good bootleg captures the essence of a live show, with its ambiance and flaws often giving a captivating experience. Unfortunately, the massive venue and inexperience of the bootleggers themselves accentuate the problems with bootlegged shows, while the editing and post-production are the height of the problems found with fast-paced, MTV style concert films of today. "Awesome... I F*ckin' Shot That!" exists in a no-mans land between these conflicting forms, giving the merits of neither and the troubles of both, resulting in a frustrating and unfulfilling experience.
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