Review: Birdhouse Saturdays
To be perfectly honest, I kinda forgot that Birdhouse was still a company. The last major video they released, The End, premiered when Bill Clinton was President. And although that film certainly had a significant impact on my friends and I when it came out in the late 90’s (wink and nod to Heath Kirchart specifically), I suppose I assumed the company had packed up shop sometime in between then and now.
Turns out, I was wrong. As evidenced by the release of their new full-length feature Saturdays, Birdhouse has come roaring back. And fortunately for those of us who still crave long-form skate videos, Birdhouse has produced a product here that is absolutely worth the time and money it takes to watch. (Spoiler alert: Except the skits.)
For starters, the filming and editing of the video are top notch. The filming is consistently excellent, and the drone shots are super fun to watch. As someone who watches a lot of skate videos, I consistently find myself frustrated when tricks are filmed poorly or when the editing is sub-optimal. But I found nothing of this nature to object to in Saturdays. They clearly invested a lot of time, energy and money into ensuring that the film was easy to watch and that it maintained a consistent aesthetic from start to finish.
The second thing that makes Saturdays worth your time is Jaws part, in and of itself. By my calculus, he not only had the best part in the video, but it seems highly likely that we will one day look back on this part as representing the pinnacle of his skate career. To be clear, I fully hope to be wrong about this. I’d love to see Jaws top this part some day, but it’s simply hard to ignore the impending injury he will almost certainly incur if he continues to try to operate on this level for much longer. I already didn’t think it was possible for Jaws to one-up himself after Criddler on the Roof one and two. But in Saturdays, he manages not only escalate the shock factor of his personally patented roof-skating, but he also put in the work to create an extremely well rounded part overall. To be fair, not a single manual trick is to be found in the part. But other than that, we see transition, rails, legit flip tricks down stairs and gaps. You'll find just about everything one could reasonably hope for.
I actually watched Jaws’ part three times in a row the first time I saw it, it’s just that good. Did you catch that scene where he’s casually jamming out to his ear-bud music before he pulls the blunt fakie to indy off the quarter pipe on a rooftop? He’s in his freaking element up there! So cool to watch. Did you see the backside 360 not only over a sidewalk, but also over a non-consenting bicyclist? Or the three-line trick down the levels of that graffiti filled, mysterious, abandoned complex in the middle of nowhere? Or the massive Nollie over the rail at Fort Miley? And the ender! Holy guacamole! How do you gauge whether or not that is even physically possible before trying it? How does his body take the impact? Incredible.
The third reason to watch Saturdays is the simply legendary session at the mega-hubba in San Jose. While I imagined someone maybe considering a backside noseslide on that thing when I first saw it, I honestly didn’t think it was even skateable, it’s just so massively tall, long, and crusty. On top of that, it’s in the bottom of a massive drainage ditch, often filled with putrid, sludgy water that, suffice it to say, would be hella unfortunate to fall into. Seeing Daniel Low nail the backside 50-50 on this beast blew me away. But the show is yet to be over! We see Shawn Hale bust a frontside 5-0. We see Jaws fairly easily handle a kickflip stalefish down the stairs. And we see fire in Clint Dixon’s eyes as he goes to battle on the manliest trick of the day, a simply epic backside crook.
The raw energy, the vitality, and yes, perhaps even the testatorone release we get a glimpse into during this session is palpable, and this is precisely what makes it so compelling. Twenty years from now, these dudes will almost certainly look back on this footage as having documented some of the best days of their lives.
Think about it. They’re out there doing exactly what they love to do, what they are world-class at, and they’re doing it on the highest level they likely ever will. They’re spending time with some of their closest friends, exploring new places, getting fresh air, pushing the limits of what they are capable of and succeeding in doing it.
Oh, and they’re getting paid to do it, by the way. And they will be admired by skaters world-wide for what they've accomplished.
In this scene more than any other, we get a vicarious sense of just how exhilarating it must be to live an experience like skating the mega-hubba. Imagine being one of these dudes in the moments before they land their respective tricks. Imagine standing on top of a ledge so large it’s not even clear whether or not what you want to try is even possible. Imagine being simultaneously terrified, but also so confident in your own skill that you can convince yourself to go for it. Imagine taking those padless, bone-crushing slams on concrete. And then imagine climbing back up there to try it again, and again, and again, until you role away.
Beyond the skateboarding itself, this scene shows us a beautiful example of what it means to live in the moment. More so than any other scene in Saturdays, it is here where the spirit of Clint Dixon’s words ring more true than at any other point in the film, “That is what skateboarding is all about!”