Wednesday, November 07, 2012

US Indie Rock

A few years back I made a video for the band Broken Social Scene. They've been my favourite band for a few years now. I randomly met their manager and offered to make a video for the band as an example of my work. He was cool and said if I do he’d pass it onto the band. I wanted to make something fast and cheap mainly cause I didn't have any money and wanted get into film making again since I’d been doing nothing film wise for over a year.

I became friends with Yoel (the boy in the video) after he kept coming by this music store I worked at buying great albums. We got talking and I started recommending stuff. After a while I talked about my idea for the video. Soon after he began dating Georgie (the girl in the video) so they became my actors. The video was shot with two friends over a couple of months.

Cocaine Skin from Lux on Vimeo.
“I would prefer that the music is heartfelt, and I don't care if it sounds like shit or not..."
- Lou Barlow

Before making the video I was looking back at a lot of early 90s US indie rock videos. I got to thinking: if they were made today they’d probably be made on a cheap digital camera and edited on iMovie or something, that’s how I made my video anyway.

Those videos of the early 90s were always lo-fi. They looked like they’d been made by the bands themselves with their parent’s VHS camcorder, shot without a budget or much of a concept, always naïve, messy, unpolished and fuckin awesome. I love the awkward camera shy band, the bad trippy camera effects, the stupid costumes and the clunky edits

Today the music video has become this beautiful art form but as much I love the likes of Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry’s genius concepts and their perfect synthesis of sound and vision, nothing gives me a bigger thrill than the seeing those two kids kiss then stage dive in Sonic Youth’s Dirty Boots video.

I guess what makes these video even more precious to me is you gotta remember these videos were around in a time before You Tube. A time where if you didn't record the show that Nirvana were performing on or you missed the highlights from a festival that was broadcast at 3am and your friend didn't tape it either, it’s gone. You were never gonna see that performance again.

I don’t know any indie fan that didn't have a music video compilation tape.
I’d always have my music videotape to hand. You’d never know when you might be channel hopping and suddenly catch a video by a cool band. Then it’s the frantic struggle to get the tape outta the sleeve - into the video and hit record. Usually at that point fear would strike when I began to wonder "did I fast forward to the end of whatever it was I was last watching? Was I wiping over other good stuff on the tape?"
Just another hazard of the era.

My top 6 indie rock videos

Pavement - Gold Soundz
Gold Soundz is my favourite indie rock song of all time. The video has maybe the most ridiculous concept I've ever seen in a music video. I don’t know what to say about this video. How did they pitch this? I think a You Tube commenter said it best with “I don't understand fully why this video is so great, it just is.”

Superchunk – Throwing Things
This song rocks. I love the image of the band rockin out on their lawn in quiet suburbia. This is a great example of bad camera effects of the time and how I remember so many indie performances looking at the time.

Dinosaur Jr – Freak Scene
Dino Jr’s were always so cool. It never looked like they ever bothered with concepts for their videos. It always just seemed like they rounded up a bunch of random junk found in their closet, shot a bunch of stuff fooling around with friends, then randomly edited it together.

Smashing Pumpkins – Siva
This video captures the darker goth imagery that was around with the heavier grunge bands in scene at the time.
Smashing Pumpkins were a big deal for me growing up. They had just as big an effect on me as Nirvana did. By the time of ‘Siamese Dream’ I was totally obsessed, buying every single on every format for the b-sides and every magazine they featured in. It reached a point where my friends in high school got so pissed off with my love for them they pulled me aside one day and said ‘ya know Steve if we didn't know any better we’d think you like Smashing fuckin Pumpkins more than you like Nirvana and that’s just wrong!’ This being high school, a time when things like personal taste and preference really didn’t really wash.

Yo La Tengo – Sugarcube
This video pre-dates Richard Linklater’s ‘The School of Rock’ by a few years. It features the amazing David Cross, a photo of Lou Reed with big hair, a reading from a Rush album and mocks corporate rock throughout. Also the scene where Cross walks into the class room and hangs his leather chest strap on the back of the chair makes me laugh every time.

Sonic Youth – Dirty Boots
I fuckin heart this video so much.
As a kid I think every boy I knew dreamt of going to a show seeing some girl in a cool band tee, get talking and fall in love before the night was out. When I was 16 after a Fugazi show I saw some cute girl crying cause she lost her shoe in the mosh pit. A few minutes later I found her shoe dumped near the corner of the stage. I returned it to her and she was so overjoyed and gave me a hug. We got talking about the show and instantly bonded cause I too had got torn apart in the mosh pit that night. I thought I was a total bad-ass since I handled myself in the pit at a Green Day concert the week before. Tonight I got completely annihilated within the first 30 seconds of the show – they opened with ‘Facet Squared’ that night. This moment shared was quickly ruined when my friends found me talking to a girl - the same Nirvana fascists. They came over and said “we’re leaving right now, we’re not waiting around so if you want a lift home move!” Looking back I so should’ve hung back with the girl and talked some more but I was young, stupid and didn’t like the idea of trying to get home alone so I just sheepishly said bye and left *sigh*

History Lesson - Part II

Aisha and I taken outside an Elliot Smith show in 2000

I look back with such fondness and nostalgia for this era. All the bands featured here bring back such strong memories of being a teenager and in my early 20s. The time when I first began discovering bands and going to shows. When each new band and great album you found blew your mind and was like nothing you’d ever heard before. Everything was so new, pure and exciting. Looking back I don’t think I was ever happier than I was then. That amazing time in your life when you’re young, fall in love for the first time and have this new soundtrack to your life.

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