Thom’s Up, Thom’s Down

Story by Thom Fountain

Thom’s Up:

Sunday night I decided to hit the sack early, so I put on my pajamas, brushed my teeth and hopped into bed with my computer to do some last minute homework and Facebooking. I saw a status about Coachella Music Festival — one of the biggest in the world — and sighed heavily, wishing I could be there.

It was really a movie moment.

But then I remembered something I read earlier that week: Coachella was going to be streamed live on YouTube. I quickly typed in the URL and within seconds I was watching Kanye West dazzle a crowd of thousands, floating above them on a giant platform.

This new-fangled fad of broadcasting concerts live over the Internet is a huge step forward for Midwesterners like myself. While Minneapolis, Chicago and even Madison play host to some great shows and festivals, it’s tough to beat Los Angeles and New York. Now we can enjoy those experiences from the comfort of our own homes.

I’m pretty sure that was what the Internet was invented for. Well, that and scienc-y stuff.

Now, I could never argue that watching a band on YouTube is as exciting and invigorating as being engulfed in the crowd and hearing the deafening roar of applause, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

When LCD Soundsystem — one of my favorite bands — broke up a few weeks ago they hosted a giant farewell concert/party that featured tons of guest artists and an elaborate stage show at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. Tickets sold out in minutes and I couldn’t even pretend I had the ability or funds to make it across the country, even if I had been able to snag a ticket.

This is where that live streaming really shone, allowing me and thousands of others to experience the incredible event as it was happening.
Sure it’s not the live thing, but Internet video can be pretty great.

Well, sometimes…

Thom’s Down:

I love music videos. I really do. There was a long time, and still a wistful night, where I thought that’s what I wanted to with my life — make videos for my favorite songs. The thing is, videos kind of suck now.

Sure there’s some awesome ones like Arcade Fire’s interactive masterpiece for “We Used To Wait” or the cool, syncopated nature senses of Cults’ “Go Outside,” but, other than the select few, all music videos are one of the following:

Stop-motion: Yeah, stop motion is awesome. You can make things fly and stuff! Woah! Magic! But come on, guys, get creative. The downfall of stop-motion is that it seems like that’s all there is. There’s rarely a storyline or plot or underlying anything in a stop-motion video and that really stinks.

Vintage stock video: Yes, there’s a real cool quality to vintage video and reusing old footage, but again, where’s the creativity? If I wanted to watch dumb kids in some nondescript year riding bikes in a neighborhood, I’d watch a Wes Anderson movie (hey-o!).

Dude, where’s the band?: Gosh, I hate myself for that headline. But I don’t care, I’m keeping it. Seriously, though, when did it become cool to not be in your own video? Part of the appeal of music videos is putting a face and an aesthetic to the music you already know and love. I want to see the singer singing and the guitarist strumming — it adds to the emotions music already invokes.

And I mean, wasn’t that what video was invented for? Well, that and scienc-y stuff.