Showing 28 posts tagged video

New Material

Over the last year or so, the band have been working on new material and it’s been sounding pretty great. They’ve been previewing it in parts, over gigs, and earlier tonight I attended a gig where they played an entire new setlist, with just the Maby Baking opener, ‘170’, to close the set.

Here are some home recorded videos of two songs that will probably be making their way to the new album. Earphones and loudness recommended.

'Why Do I?'


The Second Coming: Atop the #RedBullTourBus

Fairly recently, the band played a bunch of shows atop the amazing Red Bull Tour Bus. Yeah, no biggie. Just a bus, that has a stage on top and an entire equipment backline. The band travels in it, lives in it and well, what’s not good about something so old school and so rock n ‘roll.

I had the luck to be traveling with them for part of the journey, and watched them play about 4 times on that stage. They first played at the launch show of the tour bus in Mumbai, then travlled to the neighbouring cities of Nashik and Ahmedabad, where they toured and ended it with a headliner slot at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, in Pune.

I had the chance to interview them prior to the shows, and here’s where you can read it.

And here’s a cool profile the good peeps at SoundTree media did on them.

That last post was a big one and touches on things I’ve been thinking about for a while, so let’s shift gears to something lighter. “Companions’, whose accompanying video uses typically Dodos-esque bizarre humor to stage something eerie, is one of my favorite songs from 2011’s No Color, but for one real reason.

The electric guitar line that punctuates the acoustic fingerpicking is so unbelievably good, it chills me. It hits at exactly the right moment. I once wrote an article about that feeling for The Awl entitled "A Playlist of Game-changing Moments In Song" and I’m still mad at myself that I hadn’t had the forethought to add “Companions” to the list. 4:28 is where you want to have your stereo turned up loud. It’s like the indie-folk version of letting the beat drop.

Video: The Dodos, “Transformer”

And just as we crack open the first day of our week together, The Dodos share a video for “Transformer”, a song from their most recent record, Carrier. Though not my favorite of the bunch (I am invested in the beauty of “Death” and solidity of “Substance”), the video demonstrates something that The Dodos are good at—injecting playful, childlike imagery into often quite serious subjects. Never diminishing to a point of goofy misrepresentation, The Dodos can balance density with joy. A vibrant horn line on “Substance”, a press photo with multicolored confetti, a grammatical gaffe in “Winter”. This animated video shows that quality exactly.

Phish - You Enjoy Myself (12/9/95, Albany, NY)

Phish will always live in the cultural shadow of the Grateful Dead; as the longer post coming up later this evening will discuss, this isn’t an inapt comparison (nor is it one that diminishes their achievements). If the sociocultural lineage there is undeniable, the musical one is trickier, as “You Enjoy Myself,” the most frequently played song in the band’s career (557 appearances, or roughly four out of every 10 shows), makes clear. This is, before anything else, music born under the sign of Zappa: an intricately composed suite that includes aggressively inane lyrical piss-taking (the entirety of the lyrics: “Boy/Man/God/Shit” and then, “Wash Uffize/Drive me to Firenze”), choreographed trampolining, and an a closing a capella section in which all four members make strange noises for upward of five minutes.

Live versions of the song generally run a shade over twenty minutes, as the band moves through changes with Zappaesque precision. Occasionally, though, things stray from the prescribed path, and we end up with experiments like this version, played in Albany, New York on December 9, 1995. It’s not so much an issue of improvising like the Dead, but of a shared conceptual approach that accepts potential failure as part of the project. You can scroll to anywhere past nine minutes or so in this video and you’ll find something that’s at least unique, including a rhythmically heavy bit where Anastasio hops onto a second drum kit (throughout the back half of the 90s he experimented with ways to recede from the limelight of extended guitar soloing, including the drum kit and, later in the decade, a keyboard that he would move to during the band’s spacier moments) and a “silent jam” in which all four members continue to play their instruments in pantomime (this starts around 26 minutes and would be my recommendation here if you’re only going to sample).

Frank Zappa once titled a live album “Does Humor Belong in Music?,” and large swaths of Phish’s career function as attempts to grapple with that question. They’ve never succeeded at being as ironic as Zappa, or as earnest as the Dead, but at their best they’ve worked a middle path that attempts to synthesize both into an acknowledgement of the paradox of playing in a big famous rock band, i.e., that it is at once one of the silliest things in the world and a source of truly meaningful pleasure (both visceral and emotional) for many, many people.

Reflexive art often comes positioned as a tool to reveal some truth about its maker(s), but in practice it frequently functions as just another obscuring layer. In building a very visible degree of potential failure into this reflexivity, Phish, in these moments, managed to reinsert something thrillingly human into their intellectual goofing. It is, in a very literal way, music for your whole body.

Lotus Flower

I dance around the pit, the darkness is beneath

You used to be afraid but now you aren’t. You can claim a small space for yourself and enlarge it with your joy. No one’s whispers and side glances will ever keep you still again. Movement is key, movement is you, movement is everything. Dance every time it feels good.

Street Spirit (Fade Out)

This machine will, will not communicate these thoughts and the strain I am under

"Street Spirit" closes out The Bends with some dark grandeur. O’Brien and Yorke lock in on that Spanish-style arpeggio and it isn’t until J. Greenwood’s appearance on additional guitar harmony that you suddenly feel the oppressive containment that preceded it. Air comes in and you’ve escaped…somewhat. It is up to you to remain free.

Jonathan Glazers’ (Sexy Beast, Birth) coolly stunning black and white video for the song, doesn’t bother with plot. It recognizes that the beauty of the piece is in the particulars; the way time seems to quicken and slow down, how gestures take on gorgeousness when isolated and observed. The images seem to say watch us, hold onto us because we are ending. We are ending right now.

"Our fans are braver than I to let that song penetrate them, or maybe they don’t realize what they’re listening to. They don’t realize that ‘Street Spirit’ is about staring the fucking devil right in the eyes, and knowing, no matter what the hell you do, he’ll get the last laugh. And it’s real, and true. The devil really will get the last laugh in all cases without exception…That’s why I’m convinced that they don’t know what it’s about. It’s why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell every time I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of its meaning, like when you’re going to have your dog put down and it’s wagging its tail on the way there. That’s what they all look like, and it breaks my heart."

I don’t understand Yorke here. Why wouldn’t an audience think that singing IMMERSE YOUR SOUL IN LOVE in soaring voice, believing it, and following through is enough to keep the devil at bay?

As listeners, we’re not surprised to be wrong, we usually are. But this is the thing with art; yes, it’s yours if you made it but once out there it starts accumulating the weight of our expectations, experiences and feelings. It becomes something else and you can’t ever have it back. This is the song that played the night he realized he needed to move back home, the day she walked to work and it scored the leaf crunch path perfectly, the moment they fell out of love, the first time he voted, the last time she danced.

In the end, the rows of houses may be the audience after all.