Produced by the French music blog, La, The Take Away Shows is a Paris-based weekly series of live and uncut recordings of bands playing short impromptu concerts outside the conventional arena of a venue (usually literally outside). Conceived by the artist Chryde, and photographer and video artist Vincent Moon, the show’s director, The Take Away Shows are supported with cameras and crew by Kidam, a French film production company specializing in life musical performance. They also have help in the English department from Daytrotter, a music project of Sean Moeller in which he records live, original, “re-worked, alternate versions of old songs and unreleased tracks by some of your favorite bands and by a lot of your next favorite bands.” The first episode of The Take Away Shows was posted in April of 2006.

This project is brilliant. Moon finds talented musicians touring around Paris and other areas of the world and convinces them to take their instruments outside of the concert halls and into the streets to play a free show for the public. Moon records and posts these unexpected happenings on his website, thereby allowing the whole world to experience an entirely free and unique performance. But, these shows are not just about music. Watching the artists interact with their environment and entertain unsuspecting crowds is an event of beautiful spontaneity. Check out the episode featuring The Shins walking around a beautiful part of Paris in springtime bathed in sunlight drinking white wine and playing acoustic guitars. Also uplifting are episodes with Au Revoir Simone, three girls playing keyboards and singing while strolling down Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Bear In Heaven, another indie band, although quieter and more experimental, playing in a car in Manhattan. Episodes can last anywhere between five minutes and an hour (these are usually split up into several videos) and are often accompanied by lengthy yet charming written accounts of where and when the bands played, what the weather was like, the public’s reaction to the music, and other nuances of the performance that give the reader an idea of the intimacy of the event. Because the nature of this project requires portable equipment, the videos can definitely get a little shaky but, at the same time, portability allows for a greater sense of inventiveness and creativity.

I loved the episode featuring The Arcade Fire directly before their show in Paris. Bad weather did not permit them to play outside, so the entire band crammed into an elevator and performed Neon Bible, violins and all. The band then hurriedly informed the camera man, “we’re going in,” planted themselves in the middle of a cheering crowd and played Wake Up using a loud speaker as a microphone. Awesome. Wish I was there.

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