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This Ain't MTV

Isabel Bader Theatre was filled with young, hot, trendy music-scenesters for the Scene not Heard screening last night at the WSFF.

Sandy Hunter of RESFEST selected the music videos for evening - and quite eclectic taste he has, too.

A country/bluegrass version of VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR got the night off to a promising start. The earnest reinterpretation of the well-loved tune got several laughs - the video's 'early television' style and omnipresent white cowboy hats helped. My personal favourite was hearing the singer with a German (Swiss?) accent speak with a strong southern twang as well.

Next up was US (see picture above), which matched lovely throaty vocals and piano with bright colours and stop motion animation - the singer (Regina Spektor) unfolding items like origami to furnish a room. It was a child's world - strange and colourful. Her lips also feature largely.

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The video for I GET LOST reflects it's origin from a motion picture soundtrack. A light flickers and shows still scenes - shelves, a kitchen - and the solemn people in them before flickering out again. A surrealist element emerges as the music continues, showing people and ordinary objects floating around over the mundane background.

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BLACK AND WHITE TOWN was one of the most compelling pieces of the evening. The video was peopled with frustrated, angry young boys in dull dreary rooms. The kids are incredibly compelling in their violent world, and the Doves' alt rock fit seamlessly with the unfiltered adolescent emotion shown.

The video for HISTORY was like being attacked - sound, light and images were all unrelenting. Silhouettes of Controller,Controller stand out from a blood red background and brief shots of animals (owls, rams) slam on screen to the singer's soulful '60s voice and the furious guitar.

Feist's INSIDE AND OUT was a welcome respite. The black and white video consisted mainly of shots of the vocalist wandering around and photograph processing - it looked cool but there was no narrative arc or evolution to the images.

GALANG looked like nothing inspired it more than the Fresh Prince. Rapper M.I.A., in a a variety of bizarre outfits dances in front of a digitally rendered background of spraypaint. Boring. Which is a shame, because the fusion of musical styles would have been well served by an equal blend of visual style.

SEMI-SWEET was another comical video, featuring Lederhosen Lucil baking in a stylized '50s kitchen with some ridiculously cute yellow puppets. LL sings sweetly as she bakes, adds poison, and beats the crap out of the puppets. Very funny.

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The techno/punk PARIS HILTON video is trippy. The day-glo colours glare as digitally rendered video game images flash among random pictures of chickens and a girl doing weird things to a series of plastic dolls. Fun to watch, and I wouldn't mind learning the lyrics.

KITCHEN uses the same digital technique as PARIS HILTON and GALANG, which is to say that the computer generated background is digitally imposed. The singers dance around poorly in masks and really ugly ensembles and suits in front of flashing geometric images as they bemoan the loss of various utensils. Could cause seizures.

The Rheostatics THE TARLEKS plays like an classic sci-fi b-movie. The band plays in a night landscape as UFOs land and surround the vocalist with Herb Tarlek (who clearly has a great sense of humour) clones. Funny, and sounds kind of like Tenacious D.

DECENT DAYS AND NIGHTS is basically just Brit-rock band the Futureheads playing. It switches between black and white and colour, and occasionally does that '80s scribbly paper animation thing and MTV shaky-cam thing. Repetitive and boring. Music's good though - I'd rather just see them live.

BEGINNINGLESSNESS sets trance music to kaleidoscopic swirly white lines and a extreme close up of an eye. Towards the end of the song, colour is gradually introduced so by the end it's bright as fireworks. Pretty, but looks a lot like what any iTunes visualize function will do.

Howie Beck dances in a so-lame it's cool way in DON'T BE AFRAID. The background characters change, as does his costume, as he works his way through the choreography in a dance studio. There's a big finale in a gold tracksuit. Somehow, incredibly appealing.

In THE HAZING relentless emcee Masia dances on the grave of "sucka emcee"s in another b-movie homage - this one to all those creature-features that inspire the better halloween costumes. Her rap is eerie and assertive as the costumes, which are also entertaining.

RADIO GA GA is Electric 6's love note to Freddy Mercury. The jumpsuit, the 'stache, the ghosts of poodles playing chess, and, of course, those massive front teeth, all here for your listening and viewing pleasure.

TAKE AWAY was a sadly weak end to the night. Another dangerous one for epileptics; a barrage of video game visuals are thrown at you to Wrench's Japanese Metal. Just plain annoying after about ten seconds.

Another singular showing, alas, but if you want to see more, check out RESFEST, coming to Toronto at the end of October.


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