Music Videos and Theatre (Joke about that Buggles song)
I grew up on music videos. When I came home from high school the first thing I would do was turn on mtv2 and not move until my mum or sister came home demanding to watch the Simpsons or something else. I was gripped by what I was watching. I would sit in the same seat for ages flicking through different music channels to find a video that captured me and wrapped me up in it’s images. I loved how people interpret my favourite musicians songs. Watching them introduced me to the work of a few of my favourite directors now, spike jonze probably being the one who has stuck with me the longest, and some of the images I saw are now stitched into my memory. I remember running out of the room screaming at the sight of a dancing bear in Bjorks Human Behaviour video ( looking back on that video ; That bear is pretty adorable. I was a drip as a little kid)
I’m starting to make a new show and like I do every time I start the process I compile a playlist on youtube of music videos and other little things. The one I’ve put up this time around is a fan made video for Daniel Johnston’s Some Things Last a Long Time. It’s a slow mo clip of Daniel in a casper the ghost costume, his arms stretched out, walking towards the camera. It’s one of my favourite fan made videos. It captures the child like lovestruckness(fuck you that’s a word) of Johnstons lyric while establishing the haunting tenderness to how fans view him. It breaks my heart seeing that video, watching Johnston aimlessly walking across the screen holds a bizarre resonance with me. Not a clue why but yeah. That quality is something I want to bring to the new show I’m making.
I then started thinking about theatre and music videos. Lots of theatre makers try and replicate the aesthetics of film auteurs and try book adaptations but I’ve never seen a show that has a distinctly music video feel to it. Mainly because music videos last about 5 minutes at a push and that’s a short amount of time to establish some sense of story/theme/issue/self indulgence. But there’s a few pieces of theatre that has some links,be it aesthetic quality or similar thought tracks to some of my favourite music videos. So I wrote dis.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Babe I’m on Fire/ Forced Entertainment – 12am
There’s a few links in this. The first one that connects is the whole changing identity with multiple of costumes that become a bit of a cluster fuck of a mess. A shared sense of play is established through this and instantly hooks you in both. The identities in Cave’s are those that are brought up are constant figures in his iconography. He weaves together a dark, backstreet world that after you’ve listened to a fair share of his albums you become familiar with. He makes these characters relatable and real. This video fucks about with these identities of the characters and places them a total contextless world. 12am presents with familiar personas we get in pop culture and media and again places them in conextless world. The lists of people we are presented with allow us to build our contexts around why they are presented together on stage or in the video.
Also the sheer length of both of these is pretty similar. 15 minutes in music video world is pretty fucking long. 12am is also pretty long. Forced Ent are kinda the linchpins of endurance performance so the length of 12am is a fairly regular thing for them. 15 minutes of pure music video isn’t that regular though. Gaga may make music videos that same length of Ulysses but the song never starts till about 10 minutes in. This is 15 minutes OF NON STOP NICK CAVE AND HIS SLIPPERY HIPS AND HIM PRETENDING TO BE AN ALIGATOR. I really love Nick Cave and Forced Ent are pretty high on my heroes list.
Interactivity is key in this one. Looking at James Murphey being forced to wear a wig and a dress by a gang of Pandas just fills you with the urge to run outside and pour buckets of cake mix onto peoples head whilst screaming into a microphone. It invites you to want to be a part of this autonomous panda gang. You can be ridden of a pesky identity and fuck shit up. Then when you’ve finished you can cheers and drink champagne with LCD Soundsytem. King Kong Club has that similar vibe. You’re completely removed of what makes you who you are. Everyone looks like King Kong. You are invited to help Gob Squad remake King Kong from the eyes of King Kong. You have no idea who your co-stars are. You’re mum might be the one who is the frontmonkey of the band and you’re dad could be the romantic lead. This removal of identity frees you up for participation ,which if you are worried that when you get up on the stage to be the volunteer with that face you own and that name your mum gave you , is a god send. You don’t have to be embarrassed. You can just get on with it and cause a ruckus. I haven’t seen the full version of King Kong Club. Only little snippets. So if there is a big reveal moment that completely changes what I’ve said then do tell me.
I was scratching my brain then to see if any other piece of theatre reminds me of a music video and I couldn’t. Struggled a fair bit. Songs remind me of some ( Dark Side of the Universe by Modest Mouse has a completely different meaning to me now because of The Shipment) and certain bands remind me of some of my favourite artists. But I put myself in a bit of a hole with this music video and piece of theatre. I tried to link NeedCompany’s Lobster Shop with a Bowie but couldn’t. I think they just happily sit next to each other as idols. Imagine if Jan Lauwers and David Bowie shared a fishbowl at Wetherspoons. I wonder what they’d chat about.
Anyway. If you have any other music videos that remind you of pieces of theatre then drop us the links.