Various - Burn To Shine Volume 3&4
Have you ever wondered what happens to those empty buildings, surrounded by fences, all deserted and everything, waiting for the bulldozers to bring them their final rest? Well, the ‘Burn To Shine’ project looks for buildings just like that to organize a band-gig in with one rule: the origin of the bands playing in the house has to lay in the region. These editions include the Portland and the Washington D.C. gigs. No real metal here, mainly Indie rock bands.
The Portland edition takes place in the living room of an old house, with a nice carpet on the floor, which makes some of the musicians take their shoos off. The Thermals kick off with ‘Welcome To The Planet’, which is a cool up-tempo rock song, followed by Quasi. While watching the whole episode it is nice to see that the other bands, while not playing, walk a little bit around the house, the technicians are leaning against the walls or just sit on the ground while watching the bands play, which gives you this cozy feeling.
Basically, a lot of music styles were present in Portland while the quality of the performances also differed a lot. Sleater-Kinney came up with a great song but the annoying inhaling of the singer and a little messy guitar play made me hope for a better gig. The very young, yet talented The Ready really need to work on performances while on the other hand it is great to see these kids play their pop-music in a unique style.
Highlights of this edition actually all come in the end with The Shins performing my ‘Saint Simon’, The Decemberists playing their epic ‘The Mariner’s Revenge Song’ and the absolute highlight The Gossip with the über-cool and funky bass player, and the tremendous female singer performing ‘Listen Up’. And as The Gossip plays the final tunes of the day, a quick view through the windows tells us that it has been a long day, with the sun going under now. The next scene shows the house being burned down, leaving the memories to remain.
The house in Washington is located in the woods and feels a little bit less ‘warm’ than the one in Portland. And whereas the bands in Portland mainly focus on writing complete, easy to listen, songs, the artists in Washington follow a more experimental approach. Now I must admit I hadn’t heard of any of those bands in Washington and probably this is due to this experimental song-writing, which is less accessible. If you take into consideration that the sound is very basic, which you can especially hear in the vocals (which really needed some more editing in my opinion) from Garland of Hours, or in the atmospheric sound of French Toast which needs more balance between all the instruments, you get a little distracted on this DVD. Thumbs up for Ted Leo who’s a solo artist on an electric guitar, but his music isn’t convincing at all, especially when he makes a few mistakes in the solo’s. Highlight is, again, the final act, namely Bob Mould, a singer-songwriter with nothing but his acoustic guitar, performing ‘Hoover Dam’ which is a strong song, mainly because of his authentic vocals. And again, after the final act, the house is burned to the ground.
So, what to think of this DVD? In my opinion, the directors of Burn To Shine have come up with a great way to use deserted houses one last time by creating a warm atmosphere among the house. However, the difference in quality of the bands is pretty big, and because it is pretty important to have something interesting to watch, I’d advice to look for a more different line-up next time. That is, in the Washington case; Portland was tremendous.