Seven Great Websites for Out-Of-Context Concerts
There's nothing quite like the classic live music experience of standing elbow-to-ribcage with dozens or hundreds or thousands of strangers, basking in the glow of some sweaty collective of musicians working their magic onstage at a dark, smoky venue. But there's also nothing quite like that sweaty collective of musicians working their magic in the backseat of a car, or in a crowded elevator, or tucked between bookshelves in someone's office.
It seems that the same easily-accessible digital cameras that've flooded YouTube with screechy, grainy concert footage have also made way for a whole slew of carefully-filmed live music performances online, many of them stepping out of the concert hall and into the big weird world. Paste's own multimedia team has caught The Avett Brothers in a chairlift, Chairlift on a Ferris wheel (Jose Gonzalez, too) and the Royal Alberta Advantage in a fire-lit living-room. Here are some of our other favorite sites for out-of-context concerts.
La Blogotheque's Take Away Show
These French fellows first caught our attention with their footage of Arcade Fire playing "Neon Bible" in a freight elevator. Since then, they've filmed Loney Dear in a cafe, the Rosebuds in a van, R.E.M. in their natural habitat and more, capturing a really beautiful, frenetic, colorful energy in each show. The videos they did for Beirut's Flying Cup Club (one for each track) are great, too.
It's not just musicians sitting down in the Greensboro, N.C. kitchen of Monkeywhale Productions' Harvey Robinson (the site profiles local movers and shakers, too) but performances by recent Paste favorites Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers (above) and Blind Pilot, plus The Everybodyfields' Sam Quinn's new outfit, are our favorite part of what this "new media experiment" is tinkering with. Sometimes move take the show outside, but I guess we can forgive them for not calling the series "Harvey's Kitchen and/or Front Porch, When It Gets Too Stuffy In The House."
Pitchfork's infamously snarky tone may tempt some musicians to throw themselves from high buildings, but brave ones like King Khan and My
Brightest Diamond play on top of them for the Don't Look Down series.
Black Cab Sessions
Everyone from Fleet Foxes and Amanda Palmer to Richard Thompson and Brian Wilson have loaded into the titular vehicle for a one-song spin around London. The visuals are a little wobbly at times, but the performances are pretty much always worth the mild carsickness. Here's Jens Lekman playing a suitably meta version of his song "Black Cab" on the kalimba. Buckle up.
NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts
From the looks of it, the desk of NPR's Bob Boilen is actually quite sizable in itself, but the All Songs Considered host's office sure can get cramped when a full band is crammed in for one of these great mini-shows by great artists like Thao Nguyen, Dr. Dog and, yes, even Tom Jones. (Also, just because I'm kind of a creep, I love these little glimpses into NPR Music HQ. I spy with my little eye a blue lava lamp, a Neil Young Archives box set, and, oh, is that a vinyl copy of Shearwater's Rook hanging out on the shelf behind the very band itself? I believe it is.)
The folks behind this London-based site aim to breathe some life back into their city's mostly-forgotten park bandstands, and they've pulled in a bunch of their local favorites (like Fanfarlo and Alessi's Ark), plus a few of Paste's neighbors (Black Lips, above, and Of Montreal) and other artists from all over to do just that. The mostly-acoustic, mostly-overcast performances are simply lovely.
Befitting of Athens' legendary music scene, Soundies films local acts and national bands alike at locations classic (the original 40 Watt Club), homely (front porches) and potentially hazardous (railroad tracks, swimming pools). These videos have a definite La Blogotheque-gone-South feel to them, and that's a good thing. Here's Hope For Agoldensummer playing on the roof of The Grit, a combination of two wonderful bits of Athenia.