AKA: xLooking Forwardx: What This Means to Me (Bonus DVD)
Genre: Music Documentary
Year Released: 2007
Distributor: Blood & Ink Records
Running Time: 43 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: PG
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Danielson: A Family Movie, Punk: Attitude, 924 Gilman Street, Why Should the Devil Have the Good Music?, American Hardcore, Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All, DIY or Die
-This documentary was a bonus DVD on the re-release of xLooking Forwardx’s What This Means to Me album.
-xLooking Forwardx is a straight edge hardcore band based out of Bel Air, Maryland (no, not the same Bel Air where The Fresh Price lived) and started in 1999. They’ve been on Blood & Ink Records and Facedown Records, but they are currently inactive as a band at the time of this review as their last show happened at Facedown Fest in 2017.
-Music Fan Bonus: Expect people wearing band shirts a lot. Some of the ones I caught were No Innocent Victim, The Deal, The Insyderz, Strongarm, Hoobastank (even though it’s part of a joke), and there’s even a scene where a punk rock dad is carrying baby wearing a Sick of It All shirt. I can’t make that last example up. That child is going to grow up and be in a hardcore band. Besides that, there is an old picture shown where the Chaillou brothers are with Sonny from POD.
-This film was directed by Andy Reale who has directed music videos for Throwdown and War of Ages among others.
-What This Means to Me, the album that corresponds to this documentary is their 2nd full-length album which was originally released in 2004.
-Three of the members of xLooking Forwardx are related. Lead singer Justin Chaillou and guitarist Josh Chaillou are brothers while their cousin Kevin Doherty is the bassist of the band. Coincidentally enough, the remaining member (the drummer) is also named Kevin. Kevin O’Brien to be exact.
It has been quite a long time since I reviewed a music documentary. Much like Danielson: A Family Movie and A Light in the Darkness, I’m dealing with something I hadn’t seen in years. What makes this even more intriguing is because I have actually seen this band live a decade ago come Summertime (this fact will be ironic and hilarious in hindsight once you know what the doc is about). Funny how fast time flies and this was long before I even thought about reviewing films. I found one of their albums in my room and forgot that this had a bonus documentary for this edition.
Let’s check out this film involving a band that is (if I were to reference the first track from the album it’s associated with) BEL AIR! HARDCORE! BEL AIR! STRAIGHT EDGE! Bonus points if you’ve listened to this band before and screamed along to those words.
xLooking Forwardx: What This Means to Me involves this hardcore punk quartet straight from the Old Line State outside of Baltimore. All four members talk about the history of the band and their lives outside of music like a typical documentary, but they have a mischievous plot that they’ve been planning for a while. You see, the members are growing up, have jobs, and start families, but they want to do something big. They book a free concert at a local church’s basement and they advertise it as their final show ever. The thing is that it’s a giant prank that no one besides the band were in on the joke. How will xLooking Forwardx pull this off and expect the right results when they’ve been touring nationwide for years and have a loyal fan base in their home state of Maryland?
This was a nice rediscovery of this band and this respective documentary. One thing that I enjoyed about the presentation was the balance between catering to XLFX’s fans while also introducing themselves to anyone who knows nothing about their music. They do go through a brief history, show enough of their music through live footage from that “last” concert, and show what they’re like outside of the hardcore scene. The production is with a lot of camcorders, but it adds to the punk rock nature of this documentary although the footage improves during the concert, some of the interviews, and the “joke” interview scenes with Justin which has a bit of an Office vibe, yet more over comically over-dramatic with the black and white effects. There was even one scene with intentionally poor production that was obviously made with Windows Movie Maker that involved one of the members joking around with co-workers at the cell phone shop. It was also refreshing hearing REAL hardcore music. If you think hardcore involves bands such as A Day to Remember, Issues, or The Devil Wears Prada instead of bands of the ilk of Minor Threat, Bad Brains, or even Figure Four, then please slap yourself. Even Josh (guitarist) makes an epic joke about the metalcore trend where he talks about how he’s open about liking nu metal bands like Papa Roach and Disturbed, yet he claims in what was one of the best quotes of the movie: “Metalcore is the new nu metal.”. Even in 2019, that line is still hilarious as I remember how big the scene fashion and bands were in the 00s and early 10s. What makes that quote even better is that there’s a thing called nu metalcore which fuses those subgenres of music (think Korn mixed with Attack! Attack!, and you might be close to what most of those bands sound like). Anyways, the reaction that people get at the concert was certainly worth noting. It was certainly ironic since they’ve done shows and one-off concerts long after the fact and I saw them two years after this CD/DVD combo was released. What This Means to Me packed a surprising amount of things in it’s short run time. If you’re a fan of their music, there is even a bonus scene that involved footage from their first show ever if you want to see more of the history of this band.
What This Means to Me does trip while two-stepping from time to time (yes, I just made a hardcore dancing joke in a movie review). While the realistic production does work, there were some parts that could’ve been filmed better such as the lightning or pixelation. It wasn’t as bad as 924 Gilman St., but some parts were certainly mediocre. The ending after the concert does have some funny things, but it just ends randomly after seeing the rest of the Chaillou family (Justin and Josh’s parents). Speaking of that scene, one part really turned me off was the dad calling his own sons “mentally retarded” in a seriocomic way. Mr. Chaillou, that’s not cool regardless if you’re joking or not. Even Ben X didn’t stoop that low and the portrayal of mental conditions of that film was offensive. The film certainly has a good balance for introducing this band to new faces while appeasing to the previously established fans, I can’t see people who aren’t into hardcore or punk rock being really into this from a musical perspective. I also wanted to know why they got into the straight edge movement to begin with. That was a missed positive perspective with a band like that which could intrigue and even enlighten some people who think hardcore music is nothing but drugs and alcohol despite bands following that code since the days of Minor Threat (hey, they DID invent that ideology). Some of the humor falls flat like some of the jokes and with one of the members randomly farting around which gets repeated in passing which was bogus.
The xLooking Forwardx documentary was a fun watch and it was like revisiting an old friend in a way. The music was fast, hard, and positive. The prank and the ramifications were certainly fun as everything unraveled. The production was a mixed bag as it upholds the grittiness of real hardcore, but some parts suffered due to other aspects of the coding and/or lighting. What This Means to Me is a good example of showcasing a long-lasting hardcore band in less than an hour. No need to roll the dice (another XLFX reference!), feel free to check it out.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-2 points if you’re a xLooking Forwardx fan.
Add 1 point if you like your hardcore music with an old-school bent (or at least without scene kids and the Hot Topic crowd).
Subtract 1-2 points if you like big budget music documentaries.
-Nice balancing between showing XLFX to new and old fans
-Concert scenes have great visual and audio production
-Shatters stereotypes about hardcore music (it even parodies aspects of it)
-Poor lighting and pixelation in some scenes
-Some humor falls very flat
-Missed potential by not elaborating on the straight edge ethos of the band
Final Score: 8/10 points
Content Warning: What This Means to Me involves xLooking Forwardx who are a band that adheres to the straight edge lifestyle and all the members are Christians, but they aren’t preachy about those things at all. The content is quite tame. Most of the swears are censored with the exception of Justin name-dropping the Jackass TV show in passing. There are some off-color comments such as one band member parodying a militant “old-school hardcore bro” stereotype and calls fans of certain bands “fruits” or with one XLFX fan being confused about the crabs on their band shirts (context: crab dishes such as crab cakes are a HUGE deal in Maryland since seafood is cheaper compared to most states), but they misconstrue the crabs as relating it to the STD of that name.
All photos used under US “Fair Use” laws. xLooking Forwardx: What This Means to Me is property of xLooking Forwardx and Blood & Ink Records. The CD/DVD cover is from Bandcamp and is property of xLooking Forwardx and Blood & Ink Records.