In case you hadn’t heard, indie rock has fallen hard for web video. If there’s a skinny-jeans-wearing band or three with a new album dominating your iPod, you’re almost certain to be able to watch them doing their thing online. It’s an obvious, hackneyed point, but the interent’s filled the void left by the old MTV.
But the web’s forte is taking tired TV formats (like the news show) and making them interesting again, and the MTV formula is still undergoing that transformation. Offering a full slate of live performances, music videos, and interviews on a site is great – perhaps perfect for the hardcore fan – but it isn’t congruent with the sampling and frenetic nature of most web videos and their audiences.
If I’m looking for my new favorite band or a general overview of the scene so that I can fit in at Union Pool, I’m not going to surf through an archive of lengthy material hoping to stumble across something good. Plus, I need some entertainment value to go with my passive discovery.
Leave it to those perennial outsiders, the Canadians! (I kid about the outsider thing, of course, as our neighbors to the north have certainly become indie rock insiders in the 21st century.)
A crucial part of this community has been the CBC’s indie-focused station Radio3, and the staff’s weekly show – appropriately titled CBC Radio 3 – brings their perspective and personality to video. It’s been offering a little bit of everything from the studios since it began nearly a year ago, oddly enough, with the destruction of the old station building.
The show doesn’t shy completely away from the standard performance/video/interview music fare, but the editing and style make it much more accessible. Anyone can show the new Wolf Parade video, but who else would precede it with several odd minutes of found footage, comedy, and interviews exploring the trend of bands named after animals?
###One of my favorite recent episodes deviates even more from standard formulas by diving head first into the parallels between stand-up comedy and punk/indie rock (which, now that I think about it, makes complete sense). It’s even a more interesting due to its portrayal of comedians’ viewpoints, including takes from kings of pop comedy, irony and absurdism like Patton Oswalt, Eugene Mirman, and Tim and Eric (with the obligatory David Cross cameos, of course).
And if you’re still not convinced of the indie comedy/rock convergence, more recent developments should remove all doubt.
At least there’s no denying that these Canucks know what they’re doing. They’ve made an engaging video series that stands out in a crowded space. While their access to musicians and resources certainly helps, it’s the creativity, passion, and playfulness of each episode that keeps me coming back. It certainly beats the self-seriousness and scenesterism that’s so easy to fall into on the indie circuit.
So happy anniversary, CBC Radio 3, and good luck with your Olympic mascot politicking!