Whether it’s to clear up decade-old controversies or to offer behind-the-scenes of touring, when MTV and VH1 air specials about musicians, there’s an underlying story that appeals to a fairly wide audience. DVDs that bands and solo artists frequently release don’t always come with a “story,” therefore most of the people who would enjoy a Linkin Park live concert disc or a Marilyn Manson music video compilation are fans. Since music DVDs are marketed towards a specific singer’s fans, and not the largest consumer audience possible, it’s rather difficult to appreciate and fully enjoy an on-tour-with DVD if one is neutral towards or not really into the relevant artist’s work.
“Riding in Vans with Boys” (Matthew Beauchesne) follows Kut U Up as they toured around the US with Blink-182, Green Day, and Jimmy Eat World in 2002. While it is almost always fun to watch rock musicians drink, interact with devoted admirers, and display signs of stupidity, it takes a fan to laugh along genuinely. The filmmaker figures that you probably never heard of Kut U Up prior to viewing the disc so he begins the documentary with a short introduction. There’s no bio on the band, but you do learn that the members have been friends with and were invited to join the tour by Blink-182. The Centennial Garden in Bakersfield, California is the first stop on the fifty-city tour.
This Bird Entertainment DVD runs about eighty-five minutes and develops along a structure where each of the cities featured includes footage of what the bands experience in each destination. For instance, in the set change between Green Day and Blink-182 in Phoenix, Arizona, two blondes kiss each other and flash the cameraman. Micah Mattson, one of Kut U Up’s guitarists, also tongues random girls from the audience. The Las Vegas show reveals that Brendan Raasch, Kut U Up’s drummer, frequently and voluntarily throws up (but he’s not bulimic, he just ran out of Listerine). In Toronto, Green Day’s Billie Joe utilizes a heated poker cue and brands the right butt cheek of Kut U Up’s vocalist Chris Cote.
“Riding in Vans with Boys” isn’t just over an hour of Kut U Up and Blink-182 doing crazy things. It actually conveys something meaningful as the members of Kut U Up summarize their thoughts on the sixty-three days, forty-six shows, and 10,723 miles spent on the road. They feel more like a band instead of just four guys playing together. More importantly, they survived—they earned the respect of the roadies and nobody got arrested.