“23 Reasons to Spare New York: Music Videos from the Art Rock Scene”
Galapagos Art Space
Sunday October 2
Why “spare”? Flattery to think anybody (except you know who) has decided New York is the enemy, doubly so to think Art Rock, which is what we’re now calling Regular Rock Music With Guitars apparently, could exonerate. Right, like Panda Bear knows you’re not supposed to tilt your head back when you have a nose bleed!
But hey, people give their gigs pretty stupid names anymore; that doesn’t mean I don’t go to them instead of seeing Jet and Oasis at Across the Narrows. Curated by Nick Hallett, a dude with a great first name, “23 Reasons” included 23 music or music-related videos, chosen for their “re-identification of psychedelic themes” and “exploration of countercultural media.” They were either really funny, in other words, or marvelously obtuse in that could have been on Beavis & Butthead sort of way. Below I’ve located links and streams for some of the videos Hallett screened at the event, and collected some of my own thoughts:
Liars: “There’s Always Room On The Broom”
The first single from last year’s most maligned turned most apologized-for indie noise rock record, for this director Cody Critcheloe plays off the song’s witch-interested lyrics for the video’s imagery–when somebody says “dragon” we see a dragon, when somebody says “Liars” we see the dudes from the band Liars, when somebody says “liars paradox!” that person is promptly punched in the face, etc. If you pay close attention, you’ll also notice that when somebody says “Kill”, the editors of Rolling Stone pop out from all corners of the screen and take turns smacking lead singer Angus Andrews with reissues of The Faces’ Five Guys Walk Into a Bar.
Out Hud: “It’s For You”
Besides artistic integrity, one of the other trends of the event seemed to be fascinations with enormous bugs–or for Black Dice, an enormous woman who look like a spider when she does leg lifts. The humans-in-an-animals world, we’re complete dicks to bugs shtick is clear here, but one video inaccuracy startles me: If centipedes and roaches were roughly the same size of sharks and pick-up trucks and trees (as they are here), what makes Out Hud think I wouldn’t jump on their backs and race them around for cash prizes?
My Robot Friend with Bingo Gazingo: “Serenading Kenny G”
As if his Guinness world record for longest held note didn’t nearly kill him, here Kenny G gets the punching bag treatment from the only person in showbiz with a stupider name than his: Bingo Gazingo. Five minutes in length, this film is exactly ten years, seven months, and three days shorter than Mr. G’s long tone–and roughly 800% less smooth. Cut G a break already–poor guy’s been playing for a hundred years and still can’t afford a big boy’s saxophone.
Jason Forrest: “Steppin’ Off”
I felt this one much more the first time I saw it, since Jason Forrest/Donna Summer’s sampling aesthetic is seamless audio to video and, call me old school, I actually like when music video’s actually make sense. But then I thought about it: This video makes no sense at all. Why would the elf dude play drums when the shape of his fingers clearly make him a better bassist? Why would the wizard dude–who spends much of the movie impressing girls with magic–need to use his hands to play bongos? Why are there bongos? There are bongos because there is potion in them.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 4, 2005