Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tourists in a Music Video

    Death Cab for Cutie has been known to be innovators in the music scene for many years. A significant number of people have at least one song of the iconic underground band. Now the successfully experimental band has done it again-with a streamed live, scripted, one take (as in no chances to re-shoot on mistakes) music video for their first single, “You Are A Tourist” off of their new album Codes and Keys.
    To put it into proper perspective, this has never been done before. Previously, artists have made live videos but they were recorded at a live show. One other artist, Michael Jackson, has made a video that was sung and performed live, but the video wasn't one take. The song was called “Rock With You” and it has since been redubbed. It gave a greater appreciation to Death Cab's video to have known about it because, littered throughout the performance were allusions to this. Director Tim Nikashi put together a phenomenal video that he would be proud to stamp his name on.
     It started out with a countdown. The house lights dimmed and the only thing visible were 9 green triangles in the background that would play a part later. Through a wall of smoke, Ben Gibbard (lead singer) walked towards the camera. He couldn't help but grin as he knew the importance of the art they had just begun. The first line came slightly off sync as Gibbard tried to catch it right at the exact moment of entry but was back on track-and remained that way-for the rest of the performance. There were camera pans and switches that made it more apparent, oddly enough, that it wasn't a completely reworked piece. Soon into it, Nick Harmer (bassist) strutted his stuff hilariously across a raised platform in front of three separately colored rooms where actors did something that no one paid attention to, surely. Harmer stole the show with his antics, exaggerated movements and humorous faces. Chris Walla (lead guitar) was almost non-existent and kicked off the next phase of the video by playing the keys.
      The entire time watching the video you couldn't help but think about how magical it was when they were starting out. The video, in its simple ways was endearing of the times that went. It was great to see the band stick to its roots when it has still grown musically out of the trappings of hipsterdom and into creative sounds. They used christmas lights to line the stages and their instruments. They had light up suits that the writer found awesome and want one extremely bad. One hopes that the rest of Death Cab's videos are done this way because it was a subtle reminder that they still knew what audience they had. Bohemia wouldn't be upset by this aspect and you knew watching that you were witness to a possibly exciting trend in music videos.
Symbolism was apparent throughout. In the section of the song that talks about leaving home, the camera hovered over a large intersection where one man turned away from the path. There was a large area of shaped lights that looked like a kaleidoscope only when women danced and rolled around to mimic the motion. It was a really neat trick they used to make the video more complex in its choreography (which made it all the more impressive when they actually pulled it off without any mistakes). When it was over, and confetti was all over the performers, they all got together stage front to say thank you a la Saturday Night Live. It was touching as the band cared more to thank the people behind the scenes and the dancers more than talk about how hard it was for them.
       It was a fantastic video and will be talked about for a long time. Certainly good press for Death Cab's latest album.

The video for “You Are A Tourist” is now on YouTube in Death Cab For Cutie's official page. The single is currently available for purchase on the iTunes store and the Android app store for mobile downloads. The album, “Codes and Keys” hits stores May 31st.

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