Video Out Today: Burn to Shine: Seattle, WA 01.27.07
posted by February 19 at 11:16 AMon
The house sat on the corner of 24th and Phinney in Seattle. It was a perfectly nice house, but its days were numbered—it was empty, just waiting for the day it would be destroyed. But before it met its demise, the house would be home to the Seattle installment of Burn to Shine, a documentary project started by Christoph Green and Fugazi’s Brendan Canty.
Burn to Shine goes from city to city and finds a house or a building that’s scheduled to be knocked off the face of the earth. Then a film crew and a slew of musicians move in for the afternoon, fill the room with music, and film the whole thing. Seattle’s line-up, currated by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, features performances by Spook the Horse, Tiny Vipers, Eddie Vedder, Minus the Bear, the Cave Singers, Triumph of Lethargy…, the Blue Scholars and more. It doesn’t represent every corner of Seattle’s music scene, but then again, they only had a day.
All the footage shot in and around this doomed house is beautiful—the colors are slightly muted and there are a lot of tight, shallow-focused shots of staircases, doorways, cabinets, instruments, and faces.
To open, Spook the Horse performs “Another New Year” which spins into this delightful jam session reminiscent of what Built to Spill is wont to do. Then Harvey Danger performs my favorite Harvey Danger song to date, “Little Round Mirrors.” Jacob Hoffman of the Lashes (and about 500 other local bands) plays French horn, and in the middle of the song, the band spontaneously bursts into a minute of “Paradise City.” It’s awesome.
Tiny Vipers’ performance of “On This Side” is stunning. The shots of her alone with her guitar in an empty living room—a living room that probably won’t exist in just hours—makes for one of the more touching moments in the documentary.
As the day continues, Minus the Bear perform “Arctic Nights,” the Cave Singers perform “Called” (and it’s one of the best performances on the disc with some of the best shots), Kinski play “Crybaby Blowout” (and nail it), and the sun starts to set during the Can’t See’s performance of “Barfight.” The day wraps up with Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter playing “The Air is Thin.”
When the music is over, it’s time for the destruction. Burn to Shine traditionally destroys the house at the end of the film—fire, sledgehammers, whatever—and I couldn’t wait to see it come crashing down with the memories of the music that was just captured inside. But this is Seattle. Seattle is too polite. Seattle is boring. So instead of destroying the house, they just moved it down the street.
THE JUST MOVED IT DOWN THE STREET?
So the house still stands. That living room that Tiny Vipers played in, the one that was supposed to crash to ground just hours later, is still a living room. Someone’s probably sitting it in right now. It didn’t Burn to Shine, it… Moved Down the Street to Shine. Which isn’t nearly as exciting. Still, it’s a beautiful DVD, and a good representation of a moment in time—what Seattle’s music community looked like (so many beards) and sounded like. Next time, though, I want a little more punk rock, a little more party, and a lot more fire.