Cue the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. West Mifflin-based Missing Pages has upped the ante with an ambitious DVD -- a live concert film shot by Jimm Needle at Mr. Small's in April 2005. Slickly produced, filmed and packaged, Modus Operandi captures a local group drawing heavily on Dave Matthews and Maroon 5: all the saxophones, acoustic guitars, noodley bass and loping college-rock rhythms.
Some nice moments in the performance include "Heather," which has a cheeky Cars-ish keyboard hook, the power-pop "Hero" and "I'll Wait for You," which could pass as a latter-day Counting Crows single. All the band's material has extremely earnest lyrics -- on "Perfect," a sun-drenched '70s-style ballad, Josh Christopher sings, "I try and try / to be the person I am inside."
There's also an entertaining music video, shot at a winterized Kennywood. Since the song's called "Weekend in L.A.," the setting makes it one long non sequitur, but it's a good jam.
Still, throughout, you sense a fundamental disconnect between the band and the filmmaker. Needle obviously had big plans for this project. On the other hand, you have a local band clearly perplexed by how involved it's become. "It just kinda grew into this monster," reflects drummer Brandon Barnes in a behind-the-scenes clip, "that it wasn't supposed to be."
It's a very impressive presentation, if a bit over-baked. I mean, there's a bass-solo featurette. It's in 5.1 surround sound. With all the extras, the DVD's about three hours long. One of the segments is called "Who is Missing Pages?" If you have to explain that, you might want to consider something more concise.
After you've watched the full concert, Missing Pages seems nearly indistinguishable from like-minded groups on every college campus. Except ... they now have this impressive DVD in hand ... which should soon land them gigs on all those campuses. Congrats guys, nicely done.