This video might not actually have had NZ On Air funding (it’s on the ‘maybe’ list), but if it did, this would make it the final Betchadupa funded video, so that’s worth looking at.
“My Army of Birds and Gulls” was the opening track from Betchadupa’s second and final album. It has a very mature sound, that was the obvious transition into Liam Finn’s beardy solo career.
The video starts off with an animated world of a snow-covered landscape filled with birds. Betchadupa appear along with the chorus, and we find the quartet wearing short sleeves amid the wintry animated landscape.
The world of this video is beautiful, surreal and slightly sinister, with the implication that indeed Liam’s avian army does have actual military capacity. This feels like the end of the revved up teen rock of Betchadupa and the start of that aforementioned beardy rock. It’s serious song and a serious video, and it feels the upper limits of serious for a band with the goofy name Betchadupa.
Best bit: the camera looks down on Liam as snow falls, echoing Anika Moa’s “Youthful” video.
“Who’s Coming Through The Window” was Betchadupa’s 11th NZOA-funded video, with the band soon coming to the organic end of its life. The video saw the band team up with Joe Lonie, and it’s like a technologically advanced version of his earlier one-take wonder videos with Goodshirt.
The video uses one continuous, stationary shot of a grimy looking dressing room. Shot in moody black and white, there’a a window, a door, a mirror that reflects that other half of the room, a shelf stack with the band’s boozy rider, and enough room for one member of Betchadupa to play.
We see different members of the band performing in the one spot, sometimes with others playing in the mirror’s reflection. While this happens, a succession of gig-goers climb in the window, steal a beer or two or three, and head out the door. There wouldn’t be any of this trouble if Betchadupa had requested a fruit platter.
The song is a slightly offbeat pop track (with hints of the Mint Chicks’ skewed sound) and the video plays with that not-quite-normal feeling. All the different layers of the video, with the window-climbers and band members sharing the same space, remind me of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, but the less said about that, the better.
Like many Joe Lonie videos, it’s a gimmick-based video with no deep meaning behind it all. But that’s fine – let the song do the talking.
Best bit: a poster advertising a band (or album?) called Deafblindness.
“Move Over” was the first single from Betchadupa’s second and final album “Aiming for Your Head”. It reached #14 in the New Zealand charts and it has the sound of a band becoming even better at songcraft and performance. It has bit of a Pixies loud-quiet thing, and some classic Finn melody, as well as generally awesome pop stylings.
The video is shot in black and white, and is based around the band performing the song in a grungy old room. But not everything is as it seems.
The room appears to be all walls and no floor or ceiling. There’s Liam’s standing against a wall, next to a window… except he’s actually lying on the floor, with a bandmate stepping over him. Whoa.
But the weird room and crazy gravity situation isn’t played for laughs, like the upside-down antics of Goodshirt’s “Green” video. It’s more used to create a sense of unease, that something isn’t quite right with the world.
The video is directed by Greg Page, and it’s another example of his ability to capture the live energy of a band. Here’s Betchadupa going crazy with their performance – and maybe they’re rocking out so hard it’s making the room spin. Awesome.
Best bit: the drummer’s horizontal drumming, neatly keeping his hair out of his face.
This is a fun adventure. “Life will be the Same” is a dark, moody song and the video goes for a similar tone. As a single from their debut album “The Alphabetchadupa”, it continues to have a more serious, less fun feeling than the songs from their earlier EPs.
Things kick off with Betchadupa playing in a dark club. Initially the band are playing in shadows, with only a backlight illuminating Liam’s hair. The stage lights slowly grow brighter and we’re brought out of the uneasy darkness into a familiar rock scene.
After about a minute we meet the subplot, taking a leaf out of the big book of urban legends. There’s a lone hitch-hiker out thumbing a ride late at night. Eventually he’s picked up by Liam. He happily slings his bag in the backseat but soon he gets a little ticked off because Liam will not talk to him. Actually, I’ve never picked up a hitch-hiker because I’m terrified of having to make conversation with a stranger, so I feel him.
Later Liam stops the car in the middle of nowhere to have a wee… and then mysteriously disappears, leaving the hitch-hiker alone. The hitcher gives up waiting and drives off, but ends up being pulled over by a cop. He should have nothing to fear, right? Wrong. The cop (illegally!) searches the car and discovers what we assume to be Liam’s dismembered body in the hitch-hiker’s bag. Whoa! The hitcher is promptly arrested.
But then just to really mess with our minds, the hitch-hiker shows up in the audience of the shadowy Betchadupa show. Is he on parole already? No. This is some non-linear narrative for you. He leaves the club, goes out onto the street and thumbs a ride. And we know exactly what’s going to happen next.
Best bit: the clever fade between Liam’s dark face and a car’s headlights, briefly giving him a creepy “Total Eclipse of the Heart” appearance.
Note: The video is geoblocked to viewers in New Zealand and Germany, but everyone else should be able to view it. So if you can’t view the video, here’s a clip of the band performing the song live on “Space”.
While Betchadupa is experimenting with alternate guitar tunings, their video is based around a night in the life of a Betchadupa fan. We meet her in the bathroom, getting ready to get out. She puts on a tiny bit of mascara, some lippy, and heads off, with the camera seemingly attached to her, like a stalker walking backwards.
After taxiing into town, she walks down the mainstreet, eating chips. Part of me thinks, oh, a nice young lady shouldn’t eat when walking down the street, but another part of me is thinking that actually it would be quite choice to have some street chips before going to see a band.
While she’s walking to the gig, we also see Betchadupa playing. They’re also shot in the same reverse POV style (there’s probably a technical term for it). It gives the performance a sense of urgency. Every little movement is amplified, making it clear they’re playing their instruments with their whole body (even though that sounds really weird and sexual).
Once the fan arrives at the gig, the song shifts down to a slower tempo. The whole video is shot in black and white, but the concert footage is shot in a very grainy style, looking like something that’s been found decaying in a basement. Lead singer Liam is a fuzzy blur; the fan is just a head in the crowd.
It’s a nice enough video, but it feels like Betchadupa have become very comfortable with their role as a young rock band. And maybe that is a bad thing.
Best bit: the chips, in all their chiptious glory.
The more mature sounding Betchadupa have the second single off their second album “The Alphabetchadupa” and another video directed by Greg Page. It has a strong guitar pop sound with crunchy garage tones. I like a good crunchy garage.
The video sees the ‘Dupa performing in front of a wall painted in vertical green-grey stripes, looking like a depressed test pattern. There are points of brighter colour from the band – Liam’s maroon trousers, Matt’s red t-shirt, Chris’ red guitar, and the orange Orange amp. With the band neatly arranged along the stage and the camera mainly shooting straight on, it’s a very pleasing rock tableau.
As the band power through their pop pleaser, there’s plenty of rock posing. And this is where the video gets a little interesting. Suddenly part of the screen will freeze. Chris will strike a particularly epic rock pose and he’s paused like that, leaving the rest of the band to play on. I’m guessing the striped background was necessitated by the need to have places to disguise the border of the frozen video. Or Liam and Joe make epic leaps while Joe and Matt coolly play on.
Capturing a band’s live energy is something that Greg Page does really well, but there’s something missing here. Maybe it’s Betchadupa themselves. They seem to be playing their instruments with the energy and concentration of someone having a gym workout. That’s all good, but where is the fun?
“Sleepy News” was the first single off Betchadupa’s second album “The Alphabetchadupa”. It’s also notable as being the first appearance of Liam Finn’s beard, Che Guevara-style wisps that gave little hint of the bushy Department-of-Conversation-worker-style facial hair he was to sport in later years.
Director Greg Page has fun with the old “torture the band” format. Shot in bold black and white, the video begins with Liam alone in a grimy room, playing his guitar while standing on tiptoes. It turns out Liam is attached to a wire harness which is slightly pulling him off the ground. And it surely means we’re going to get some Peter Pan antics later.
We also see Liam and the rest of the band in the same room, only this time they’re being drenched in water. And interestingly enough, all the guitars are shown as being plugged in. When Liam sings, “I’m dead and you killed me,” perhaps he’s refering to a mass electricution. Everyone knows that electricty and water don’t mix.
Solo Liam also gets to go for a bit of a twirl on his harness. The room is dimly lit and other members of the band wander over in ghostly layers and muck around while Liam spins.
“Sleepy News” is a fierce song – tense and grungy. The video adds to that and captures their performance energy. And who doesn’t love a good wet hair flick?
Best bit: Liam’s hat, boringly obeying the laws of gravity.
There’s a really simple concept behind this video. Betchadupa play their song at a cool gig while a bespectacled cynical dickhead in the audience slags them off to another guy. We follow the conversation with subtitles.
Many of Betchadupa’s previous songs have been short punk numbers, ripping through them with a burst of energy that might not even see the timecode click over to two minutes. “Man on my Left” is an epic 3:23, which prompts the dick to quip, “Wow, over two minutes. This must be one of their long songs.” Lol! But that length means they can’t just edit together a bunch of cool shots. That have to make a proper music video.
“Man on my Left” takes its inspiration from Radiohead’s “Just” video, which using subtitles to introduce another level of story into the video. The risk with this concept is that the viewer becomes so engrossed in reading the subtitles, they forget about the song. But “Man on my Left” gets around this by making the conversation about the band, with the band turning out to be the worst band ever, as far as the cynic is concerned. “How many cliche rock poses can that bass player pull,” he sneers. Eight, it turns out, as the video demonstrates.
There’s a lot of energy in the video. The audience are fully moshing, not the standard unnatural music video direction of “wave your hands in the air”. Like the band, the audience is young with energy to burn.
And then this all leads to the fun payoff at the end. “Even their music videos are lame,” moans the dickhead. “They always have punchline at the end.” The fellow he’s been talking to turns, removes his earplugs and says “I’m sorry, did you say something?” Ba-dum-chh!
Best bit: the steely close up as the dickbag sneers “predictable”.
Note:An episode of The Big Art Trip profiled video director Gerald Philips, including a rehearsal of the “Man on my Left” video. The item can be viewed in part three.
It’s morning and the Betchadupa boys are in bed. But not all in the same bed with each other (which has happened in other videos) – no, we see a four-way split screen with each band member in a different corner. And the video continues like this, with each corner focusing on the domestic goings-on of its allocated band member.
In the top left is Liam. He wakes up and jumps in the shower, which is filmed so the bottom of the shot ends mere millimetres above his area. Oh my. But he’s out of the shower and has a play with his Scalextric set. He then grabs his guitar for some rocking out, and ends the day writing some lyrics. (Not seen – the bit where he grows a beard and gets all serious.)
Down in the Matt corner, he wakes up, snaps on a sweat band, has some toast, idly does some authentic knee drumming as he watches the telly, and then gets on his drumkit to rock out at the same time as Liam.
Next to Matt is Joe, the more metrosexual band member. He awakes with cucumber circles on his eyes, enjoys a healthy breakfast, grooms his thick eyebrows (he must have consulted Petra Bagust’s beauty book) and rocks out on the deck, to the appreciation of a group of kids, before tidying up with a spot of vacuuming.
As for Chris, well, like Jeff Wiggle he spends most of the video alseep. When his three bandmates all rock out, he just lies there. Why could this be? Is he a lazy arse? Hungover? No, as we discover right at the end, Chris is tired from being up all night with the three young women who are sharing a bed with him. Three? That’s just greedy. Think of your bandmates, Chris!
For a short song (less than two minutes) this video packs a lot in. I kind of wish there was more connection between the four situations than the rocking out. But it’s a fun video that captures the spirit of Betchadupa’s early years.
Best bit: Liam’s near-naked hip wiggle. Crikey!
Note: The YouTube clip is annoyingly geoblocked to viewers in New Zealand and Germany, but should work anywhere else. The clip also includes the Betchadupa video for “Sleepy News”.