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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Out Today: Burn to Shine: Seattle, WA 01.27.07

posted by on February 19 at 11:16 AM


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.


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.

RSS icon Comments


This sounds cool, but where does 24th meet Phinney Ave? They're both north-south streets.

Posted by Steve M | February 19, 2008 1:12 PM

Ah, a study of the video shows that it's 64th and Phinney.

I look forward to finding this DVD and watching it!

Posted by Steve M | February 19, 2008 1:20 PM

I thought it was a beautiful thing that they did not burn this beautiful craftsman house down. The other cities have had houses that were pretty dumpy and weren't necessarily salvageable. The very film, with its shots showcasing bands through dappling sunlight radiating through the lead glass windows and framed by the wood beams and floors of the rooms, we subtly begin to think of the performances being held in our house or a friend's home. I applauded when Seattle (and the house owner) actually saved their house instead of destroying it. It was a rejoicing and positive moment instead of destructive. A perfect ending if you ask me in an age of valuing condos over character. I also think it's unfortunate that the surprise of it was ruined for all the viewers.

Posted by JS | February 19, 2008 1:54 PM

i watched this a bunch of times

lol at benjamin gibbard's beard/bucket hat/modern glasses combo. kind of like a furry bono.

Posted by ndrwmtsn | February 19, 2008 10:11 PM

h. danger killed it. sean's voice starts out shaky but the song ends so triumphant.

speaking of triumph, WTF is good about triumph of lethargy skinned alive? awful "song"

tiny vipers performance was good, but i can't stop laughing at how she pronounces "fuss" "fu-ugh-usch"

so much of the artists here are people with strong vocal affectations. effeminate loud whisper, yarl, bitchy capote-style nasality, etc etc etc

best camera work, IMO, was on blue scholars performance, which i wanted to hate but don't. looks like a real music video. sabzi can scratch! who knew.

cave singers shots also were good tho, especially when the washboard/kickdrum percussion comes in

bazan, gibbard, vedder BOOM BOOM BOOM BEARD BEARD BEARD

j.roderick redeems long winters for me with his performance here. a lot of heart, a lot of humor, and for some reason it's not nauseating to me

Posted by ndrwmtsn | February 19, 2008 10:28 PM

I thought the point of this DVD series was to showcase a snapshot of what the music scene is like in that particular city is at this moment. I'm definitely biased, but I don't think it's a very good snapshot.

Posted by Benji | February 20, 2008 12:34 AM

furry bono - ha!

Posted by E | February 20, 2008 7:19 AM

@6 Benj: remember it's also curated by a notable music scene person in that city, this time being Ben Gibbard. This was all shot last year, and I think it's pretty representative maybe with the exception of Spook the Horse (the hell?) whose song I actually really liked.

And dude, let's be real-- big difference btwn what's on your radar vs. the rest of Seattle.

Posted by christopher hong | February 20, 2008 11:32 AM

for the most part, that sounds like seattle 5 years ago...

Posted by Jon | February 20, 2008 7:35 PM

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