Technological innovations over the past 10 years have changed the entire concert experience. There was a time where filming or tape recording a concert were frowned upon. In fact, there was an entire episode of What’s Happening? in the mid-70s that focused on the perils of bootlegging concerts (featuring The Doobie Brothers!). But in today’s concert setting, people pull out their phones to live tweet, take pictures, and film with nary a glance from security or venue staff. I myself get annoyed by the iPhone Army present at most shows, many patrons spending more time checking their Facebook status update about seeing the band than actually watching them. I don’t mind patrons taking a moment to snap a picture, but when it turns into a photo shoot, I have a problem.
Several years ago I saw Broken Social Scene at SXSW and before even playing a song, front man Kevin Drew gave a speech along the lines of “Instead of trying to capture this concert through videos and photos, let’s just enjoy the moment and let our memories encapsulate it.” This was a big moment for me since I’d spent the past year filming a lot of shows for this blog (one look at my YouTube page and you’ll see there’s been a major falloff in video posts since that show). Up-and-coming British post-punk band Savages have taken it a step further, requiring all patrons to turn off their phones or the band won’t play.
I should probably call this the “Video Clip of the Month” since it has been so long since I’ve posted anything. I also intended to post this video on Friday as a 4th of July themed post (Callahan is playing “America!”) but again, I didn’t get it posted. I apologize for this. Without Wi-Fi in my current location, my opportunities to post is varied, so bear with me the next few weeks.
Enough groveling; here’s a clip I filmed of Bill Callahan performing “America!” in Iowa City last week. He put on a great performance, but even more impressive was the work of his guitarist. With what looked to be 30 pedals at his feet, he created one strange guitar sound after another.
I have to admit, this is probably the strangest clip ever posted on BDWPS. Back in July I road tripped to Iowa City to see Lightning Bolt play at Gabe’s. The show took place in the upstairs loft area where there didn’t seem to be any air conditioning and an ample supply of sweaty pot heads.
During the sticky set, I attempted to pull out my Flip-Cam to try and capture the madness that is a Lightning Bolt show, but within seconds I put it away when a vision flashed through my head of the camera flying out of my hand and down into the abyss of stomping feet. What I didn’t realize is that I never turned off the record button. Not until I got back to the hotel 26 minutes later did I realize the camera had been on the entire time: the last two songs of the set, the walk to the car, the drive home, and the arrival to my room.
To avoid boring you and due to YouTube’s 10 minute limit, I cut the clip down. There are no visuals here (other than the last two seconds when I pull out the cam and realize it has been on), just the sound of the band and the sounds of me entertaining myself on the drive home, whistling a Lightning Bolt song the entire way. I know this clip may seem pointless and inane, but I think there is something intriguing and voyeuristic about the whole muffled affair. Plus, I think it captures the mayhem of a Lightning Bolt show and is evidence of the adrenaline, the seclusion, and the exhaustion I felt afterwards.
For an actual “good” clip of the show, here’s one I found online (I’m the bald shiny head right in front of the stage):