The Feelers “Astronaut”

2000-the-feelers-astronautWhen this video first came out, I saw a making-of item on some youth TV show. This is what I remember: it was filmed at the Mandalay in Auckland, and the big crowd up on the balcony was achieved through digital copy and paste.

The sound is more than reminiscent of “Where is my Mind” by the Pixies. And while the Feelers did have a Pixies sound on tracks from their first album, “Where is my Mind” was also hot from its inclusion in the 1999 film “Fight Club”.

So anyway, the Mandalay is full of fans of the Kiwi Pixies Experience and there on stage are the Feelers, rocking out with such powerful force that it creates a wind-machine like effect on the audience’s hair.

But that’s not the limits of their rock power. Soon the ceiling of the venue starts to spin, opening a portal to another dimension. What’s up there? Anal-probing aliens? No, it’s giant version of the Feelers, dressed up like they’re going to a punk-themed fancy dress party. It looks like they went through several $1 jars of off-brand hair gel from Rendell’s.

The band aren’t sure what to make of this, but they realise they can’t out-rock their 50ft doppelgangers and so leap into the other dimension. From there they gleefully watch the giant James do an ill-fated stage dive.

The lesson learned from this video is that a little bit of the Feelers is ok, but too much Feelers will just end in tears. Also: only the Pixies can do the Pixies.

Best bit: The wild eyes of James Feelers as he surveys the bizarre goings-on while keeping his rock cool.

Next… upsizing a shipping container.

Subware “Come On”

2000-subware-come-onAt last – an animated music video that doesn’t look like it was abandoned halfway through or done by someone learning the ropes. “Come On” has a Sims style of animation and we meet our hero in his 3D house, getting ready for a night out. This leads him to a nightclub, where he pulls out his fresh Michael Jackson moves, and is promptly ignored by the bustling dancefloor.

He’s looking for love and is caught accidentally checking out a fellow clubber’s cleavage. Dejected from her slap, he sulks off in a corner, only to have another attractive lady buy him a drink. He also has a perv at her cleavage and the video gets away with displaying her rack in a Benny Hill style – some a live-action video couldn’t manage.

They head off to park at a romantic spot in the countryside (what, he doesn’t want to take her to his pixelly bachelor pad?), only do discover they’ve parked by two dogs shagging. Suddenly there’s a flash of light and the lady disappears. This date isn’t going so well, but if he plays his cards right, he might still get lucky.

The dude goes searching and discovers his date standing by a nearby a UFO. After luring him into her sexy alien love chamber, she zips off her humanoid costume, revealing a green alien. And even worse – the bed transforms into examining table, complete with an anal probe. Ugh, worst date ever!

The style of animation is a good match for this instrumental track from the Auckland electronic duo. It’s fun and uses simple but good quality animation.

Best bit: the UFO graffiti in the club toilets – foreshadowing, yo.

Note: This video has since been removed from YouTube and it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere else.

Next… attack of the 50ft Pixies tribute band.

She’s Insane “E-Song”

2000-shes-insane-e-songThis is a rather unusual video. We last saw She’s Insane in 1999. They have a late ’90s alterno pop sound, like a local Veruca Salt. Somehow by 2000 it’s all starting to sound a bit dated, a bit too thin and tweet compared to the fleshier rock sound that was making itself known.

The band’s previous videos focused on the band itself, but this one is an animated job. And it’s a good example of why it’s hard to make a good animated music video.

The main problem is the animation is extremely repetitive. The video is based on a group of four skeletons that represent the band. At the beginning of the video there’s an attempt to have one skeleton singing the song, but that soon falls away. After about the first 30 seconds, we start to see repeated bits of animation, and it feels like those scenes from the Flintstones where Dino runs past the same pot plant 20 times.

The background of the video is usually plain black, though one time a random brick warehouse is thrown in, just to make everything else look even more boring in comparison.

It ends up feeling not so much like a video but more like someone mucking around with some 3D animation software, using skeletons because they’re easier to animate than whole humans and they look cool. And it’s weird, but compared to this, the awful dancing baby animation of the ’90s has character.

This was the last She’s Insane video to have NZ On Air funding and it doesn’t feel like they were a band who grew from their experience. There was potential in there, but I feel like they should have been out gigging more and writing more songs before they were unleashed on the world at large.

Best bit: the doll, showing that weird music video skeletons have a heart.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a probing date.

Pluto “She’s Jive”

2000-pluto-shes-jiveAt the heart of the “She’s Jive” video is a cautionary take about drugs. But the Pluto lads dress it up with a kind of Monty Python style humour. A lesson is a lot more palatable when there are lolz involved.

The tale begins with the Pluto lads wracked with grief, as they engage in some extreme mourning in a churchyard. What could be behind this dramatic loss?

We then flash back the point of view of a young woman who’s bribed a chemist with a Rutherford to ditch her prescription Prozac in favour of a mysterious drug that comes in a big black bottle with a pink “X” on the lid.

The woman get all fancied up and head off to a party with the X bottle crammed into her little clutch purse. Arriving at party (where Pluto are playing), she sneaks into a toolshed, gets out the bottle and takes an X pill. But – oh no! – there’s a cop standing behind her and she’s nicked. Cut to a courtroom scene where a bewigged barrister furrows his brow.

At this point the lyrics tell us “she died” but the video doesn’t make it clear how this happens. Nonetheless, it’s tragic enough to send Pluto into Mark Lundy-style grief dramatics.

“She’s Jive” is a short song – little over two minutes – but the video manages to pack a lot into it. And the band are clearly enjoying the chance to play multiple characters. Everyone loves a comedy moustache.

As for the cautionary tale, well, it’s obvious: don’t bring a whole bottle of drugs to a party, and when you take something, lock yourself in the toilet.

Best bit: the brief appearance of the neon ice cream cone sign on the Tip Top factory.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… dem bones.

Jester “Fries with That”

2000-jester-fries-with-thatBefore he was revealed to be the Ferndale Strangler on “Shortland Street”, Johnny Barker was the lead singer of Jester who had the sweet song “Fries with That”.

The video sees Johnny sitting on the seawall at Mission Bay, busking, as his bandmates watch from the nearby park. Soon Johnny realises that another musician is moving in on his turf. An old lady has set up nearby with an accordion and she’s even brought along an attractive wicker basket to collect coins.

Bemused by the old lady, Johnny puts down his guitar and just gazes at her. Suddenly the gran is surrounded by psychedelic colours and the setting changes to a theatre, complete with the Jester boys watching from their park bench.

Inspired by this, Johnny sings to the old lady and again the psychedelic colours come, but this time Johnny takes things a step further and magics his band on stage with him. It’s like some double-level “Inception” business. Even though it’s a gentle acoustic pop song, the band rock out. Isn’t this sweet? The old lady is making these lads’ rock dream come true.

Eventually the fantasy ends, with Johnny still playing his guitar in Mission Bay as the old lady shuffles off. But suddenly he disappears from the waterfront, and is panicked to find himself alone in the theatre. I can only conclude that the old lady is a witch who disposes of the young punks who try to impinge on her busking turk.

Best bit: the old lady’s careful wiping of the accordion bellows.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a cautionary tale.

King Kapisi featuring Teremoana “Saboteur”

2000-king-kapisi-saboteurThe “Saboteur” vid is a Tarantino-inspired outing, set in central Wellington. The action starts at the Marksman Motor Inn (just across the road from the Basin Reserve), with DJ Raw collecting King Kapisi for a gig. They cruise around Wellington in a vintage car where Kapisi takes a call on a chunky old Ericsson cellphone (but not old enough to be vintage). On the other end is Dave Fane, playing the “Samoan bar manager”, who rants at the “Samoan emcee” and “Samoan turntablist” (everyone in this video gets labelled). The duo arrive at Bar Bodega in its old location, before it was shuffled along Willis Street to make way for the bypass.

Kapisi and Raw take to the stage and the bar soon fills up with (in order of arrival): a trance DJ and groupie, the West West Side Crew, the East Nor’ East Side Crew, the XXXL Crew, fake ass DJs, a yakuza hit man, and undercover cops. So, that’s a pretty good audience for a local act.

Unfortunately there’s some tension between the West West Side and East Nor’ East crews. But if they just stick to their respective sides of the club, everything should be ok. Unless the Nor’ Easters are mad that the West Westers can get closer to the stage. But as Kapisi advises, “With that gangsta mentality, you sabotage yourself”. The music seems to bring everyone together.

In the end the biggest trouble is caused by the Samoan bar manager. “Play some old skool,” he impores, shoving an Abba LP at Raw. His request refused, he storms off in a huff, sabotaging things by pulling the plug on the gig.

From the old Ericsson to Bar Boedga, the “Saboteur” video feels like a postcard from the early ’00s, but it doesn’t feel stuck in that time. You never know when sabotage might happen.

Best bit: the trendy ’00s club threads of the undercover cops.

Director: King Kapisi
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… busking wars.

Goodshirt “Blowing Dirt”

2000-goodshirt-blowing-dirtOf the four videos Joe Lonie made with Goodshirt, I’d consider “Blowing Dirt” to be the strongest. There’s a simple concept behind it, it looks good and it fits with the song. Being a Lonie video, it’s not surprisingly based around a gimmick. In this case, the video was filmed in reverse and in one take. So there’s Rodney doing a reverse lip-sync with the rest of the band un-smashing up an old car.

Two versions of the video were shot. This one has a Mazda 929 being un-wrecked, the other used a Austin 1300. The Mazda seems to be the only version online, but I figure the Austin version will be much the same – just more British and less Japanese.

So, the video starts with Rodney popping up at a wrecker yard, which gives it a slightly sinister undertone because as the world of crime drama tells us, bad things happen in wreckers.

Behind Rodney, a mechanical claw un-crushes the car, and we witness the dents and scratches and collapsed panels miraculously pop back to their original smooth shape. Once the car is back to its former shape, the rest of the band come along to un-ding the car and un-break all its windows.

So far it’s all a bit grungy, but suddenly the band change into scuba-diving gear, then a bunch of balloons floats into the boot and the lads cram themselves into car, flipper-clad feet dangling out the window. They drive off with a comedy cloud of exhaust smoke.

The “Blowing Dirt” video works because while it’s a low-budget, one-take wonder, it still manages to be both entertaining and cool, just like Goodshirt.

Best bit: the lone balloon that floats into the boot, long before his rubber brethren join him.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision (version one, version two)

Next… an act of sabotage.

Fou Nature “Love Come Down”

2000-fou-nature-love-come-downThere was a period in late 2001, early 2002 where I spent about five months watching a lot of Juice TV. Many of the videos from that period are seared in my memory, and “Love Come Down” is one of those.

It’s a brilliant pop song. Fou Nature are a Pacific pop group and one of their reasons for forming was to create “positive messages for youth at risk and underprivileged children”. Yay! And “Love Come Down” is about as positive as you can yet. The song and the video are like a big pop hug.

Suburban Auckland streets provide the location for the video. We see male dancers wearing lavalava busting some moves in the middle of the road, and a group of local kids shooting hoops.

The video is mainly split between the group’s two female members and two male members. The guys are hanging out on the street, wearing sports shirts and hi-viz vests. Meanwhile, the girls are cruising along the leafy streets (probably on the back of a ute) wearing a variety of different outfits, from casual streetwear to glamorous fun fur.

There’s also some not-bad formation dancing, like a chilled out version of full-on ’90s pop dancing crossed with traditional Polynesian moves.

The video ends with a slightly awkward sunset breakdancing display for a group of children who aren’t quite as enthusiastic as the band are. (It reminds me of the awkward crowd of kids in Mana’s “Ain’t Gonna Stop” video, though the “Love Come Down” kids do remember to jig around a bit.)

It’s strange but this song and video stand out because of their relentless cheer. There’s no attempt to show the mean side of suburban Auckland streets. This is just a group of young performers who are having a good time in the suburbs and want to share the experience with you.

Best bit: the big rainbow arching across the screen. Awww…

Next… back from the dead.

DLT featuring Rascalz “Can’t Be Stopped”

2000-dlt-cant-be-stoppedDLT teams up with Canadian hip hop group Rascalz. I’m guessing that the trans-Pacific collaboration might be why neither DLT nor the Rascalz properly appear in the video.

Instead it’s a combination of animation and live action footage of skateboarding. The animation is pretty basic, and it reminds me of the sort of thing that students of today knock out in their first year of animation school. It doesn’t seem such a wise choice to have an animation of a dude doing an ollie off stairs, then showing a clip of the real (and far more awesome) thing shortly afterwards.

More successful is an animation of some dudes spraying a massive graffiti mural on a wall. It’s a work in progress throughout the video, and is revealed near the end to be an impressive piece.

The rest of the video is animation of hip hop dancers, fisheye film of skaters doing ramp tricks, and occasionally we even see the man himself, DLT.

This is the second DLT video where the guest MCs haven’t been able to appear in the video and I think it’s suffering for it. The “Chains” video was so powerful with Che Fu’s presence in it. There’s just something that a human being does that animated people can’t.

Best bit: the bad-ass graffitists spraying the camera, heist movie style.

Next… a fine day in the suburbs.

Dimmer “Seed”

2000-dimmer-seed“Seed” is the second video I’ve come across that’s entirely computer animated (the first was Strawpeople’s “Drive” vid). And by this stage, it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. CGI technology has advanced enough that a talented animator (in this case, Gary Sullivan) can create a world that expresses the song.

At the heart of “Seed” is a train. We follow it as it travels through the countryside, sometimes joined by birds flying overhead. But it doesn’t quite feel like an ordinary train journey. The animation has been done in black and white, giving the video ominously gothic tones.

And then things start to get slightly surreal. Song lyrics start popping up all over the landscape. A church-like building has “hate” sitting along its roofline. Other words leap and fall with the rhythm. Then things get really surreal with the train climbing up a roof (or is it a mountain with a giant chimney?) before it falls through a giant disembodies mouth.

It actually all reminds me of the legendary “12” animation from Sesame Street. Rather than a pinball, it’s the train that’s going on a similar fantastic journey, sometimes through familiar landscapes, other times through weirdness. Though Sesame Street never had a giant floating head of Shayne Carter.

Note: there’s more behind-the-scenes info over at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

Best bit: the weathervane rooster being spun around by real birds as they fly past.

Director: Gary Sullivan
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the case of the missing rappers.