A high street strip, a gothic seductress, a cultural lesson, a bomb threat, a photo booth, a photo shoot, a cruise down the main street, a broadcast from outer space, a floaty necklace, a Harajuku girl and a mysterious staircase. Continue reading Found videos from 1998
The description on Amplifier was so alluring: “Gasoline Cowboy get urban and dirty”. Aw yeah, urban and dirty. After the Fast Crew’s recent journey into boring suburbia, it’s about time that a band brought things back to the bad city, etc.
So what does “urban and dirty” mean? It’s the lead singer of Gasoline Cowboy in an underground car park, slowly walking from the staircase to his car. He’s shot in profile, which is not a flattering angle on most people. And that’s cut together with footage of him in a bar playing pool with some others.
Early bar scenes show him striking out with a blonde woman at the bar. Later she’s shown to be playing pool with him, but it’s not clear what their relationship is. Is she some chick he’s just met that evening? Or his she is long-term girlfriend? Whatever their relationship, he’s going home alone. He lazily trudges over to his Ford Falcon and drives off.
The video doesn’t work for me. It seems there’s meant to be a story unfolding as the video progresses, but whatever it is, it’s just not clear enough to make sense. Frustratingly, the song is pretty good, with plenty of upbeat sass. It doesn’t need an “urban and dirty” treatment. Just something fun that isn’t mired in confusion.
Best bit: the lingering shots of the green 1978 Ford Falcon. Someone loves it.
What happens when a band is too busy touring to make a new music video? They make a music video cobbled together from footage of life on the road. But somehow the Feelers’ version of this ends up being kind of crazy.
The video starts with The Feelers having a Backstreet Boys moment, disembarking a small aeroplane. Only it’s not a Learjet. It’s an Air New Zealand Link. There’s a lot of footage of the band on stage, but it’s the off-stage antics that are more fun.
The boys sit in a DeLorean, squirt each other with water guns, hoon around rural Canterbury, through the Mt Victoria tunnel and they sign autographs. Autographs! Remember when the Feelers were teen idols? When young women would thrust their t-shirt-clad bosoms at the Feelers and demand a signature?
We’re also treated to the sight of a young man with a theatrical circular saw slicing into a Feelers’ guitar. And then we see a newspaper article about the incident (which includees the phrase “capital hard rockers Shihad), proof that the incident wasn’t just extreme but it was also notorious.
The most revealing vignette is where James Feelers puts on a superhero eyemask. He wears it for few moments, smiles, then shakes his head and takes it off. Because wearing a superhero mask is silly.
But despite all the shenanigans, at the heart of the video is the Feelers playing to a stadium of people who love them. There’s real joy and excitement on the faces of the fans, and that’s something worth capturing in a music video.
The “Venus” video is seemingly about a girl who’s on the run from the law. She’s James Feelers’ sweetie, and while he sings his song for her, she’s escaped a greasy cop who’d been holding her at a sleazy motel room, run away to a remote gas station, stolen a car and driven to the Feelers gig.
But here’s the curious thing – the Feelers gig is at the Hastings Municipal Theatre (now called the Hawke’s Bay Opera House). The theatre has an elegant Spanish Mission-style facade, an extravagant art nouveau interior and is a Category I listed building with the Historic Place Trust. And the video loves it.
This isn’t just a random gig. The camera relishes the theatre’s lush interior, swooping all around. Sometimes it’s just an excuse to show the balconies packed full of Feelers fans, but other times the camera lingers on features of the lush interior decor.
Because I’m a bit of a building nerd – because I spent half an hour googling too figure out where it was shot – the theatre shots are more interesting to me, to the point where the plot fades into insignificance.
Except the ending is still powerful. Venus enters the theatre and smiles at James Feelers. He sees her but he cannot react as the greasy cop is standing off to the side. Venus runs off. Is she running because she realises his lack of reaction means the cop is there? Or does she take his blanking to be a cruel rejection, casting her out onto the mean streets of Hastings? sniff Don’t worry, Venus. Napier’s only 20 minutes away.
Best bit: the lingering glimpse of the fancy ceiling.
I have an idea that “Supersystem” is a rage against rich people who get away with crime because they’re all rich and evil. So the video is based around the world of ordinary working-class Kiwis who, presumedly, expect to be punished to the full extent of the law should they commit a crime.
James Feelers is the focus of the video, wearing an alarmingly wide-collared shirt and wearing his hair slicked back. I think he is playing a character, like a young yuppie scum type guy. He spends a lot of time staring moodily into a round mirror, with the other two Feelers lurking in the background.
Most of the video focuses on the ordinary working-class New Zealanders, and to the credit of the video makers, they appear to have done some serious travel around the country to film the people in their workplaces. There’s a printing press operator, a coal miner, an office clerk, a metalsmith, a mechanic, a mail sorter, a beverage bottler, a cafe worker, a road worker and a train conductor. It’s like the Supersystem New Zealand is stuck in the 1950s.
And just to add a slightly surreal edge, all these workers are lipsyncing the song, but in a very unenthusiastic, blank-faced way, like they’re being forced to recite the motto of the worker.
Best bit: the service station makes it clear – “we do not loan out tools or equipment”.