It's no secret that the Bay Area breeds creativity. We're the epicenter of business, technological innovation, advertising, art and ballet, to name a few. So it comes as no surprise that a myriad of incredible musical acts have called the Bay home. There's just something about the San Francisco Bay that attracts the wildest, most fascinating, best costumed, musicians. From CCR and the Avengers, to Sly and the Family Stone and The Donnas, the Bay area just seems to churn out the hit-makers. And the trend shows no signs of stopping as the likes of Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and Shannon and the Clams continually win the hearts, minds and eardrums of rockers nationwide. But things have changed a little. Nowadays bands don't wait around to get a huge record contract to make the most of their music. Nowadays they take matters into their own hands. They pick up a camera, they recruit their friends, and they make a music video. And as it turns out making your own video is one of the best tools a burgeoning band can use to get themselves heard. They're easy to share, fun to watch and you don't need an OK from The Man to make them. The best videos are a collaboration between the band and the director/editor, contributions from various artists on one project are what make them shine. Hey man, we don't need MTV, we have Vimeo! Here is a sample of my favorite videos by rad Bay Area bands and the tales behind how they came to be. Add these to your summer playlist and keep your eyes peeled for more.
Burnt Ones: "Web" Directed by Rob Williamson
With the release of their sophomore album, You'll Never Walk Alone, SF-based poppy, psychedelic, fuzz-hounds Burnt Ones knew the video for their first single, "Web," would best capture the complexity of their sound through simplicity. Lucky for them, longtime pal and rock n'roll romantic Rob Williamson was up for the challenge. Tired of the same old overblown, high-definition renditions of music videos, Burnt Ones' Mark Tester and Williamson set out to create just the opposite. "When Mark and I watched bands from 30 years ago just play in front of a crummy camera it was really refreshing," Williamson said. With their concept locked down, Williamson and the Burnt Ones headed to an SF warehouse where they had only a few hours, and very limited resources, to get the job done. "With the help of a few friends, some borrowed lights, and a lot of extension cords we built our set in about half an hour and started shooting." To achieve that perfect lo-fi, analog look and feel, they opted to use Williamson's dad's 8mm Sony Handycam straight from the '90s. The effect is a perfectly blissful psych for eyes and ears. "The Burnt Ones came over to check it out, were stoked on it, and that was that," Williamson mused. It's fuzzy and fine and a beautiful accompaniment to your summer playlist.
Burnt Ones hit the road this summer, follow their shenanigans here.
Cocktails: "Hey Winnie" directed by Lauren Matsui
In celebration of their self titled EP release on SF/Miami label Father/Daughter records, San Francisco power-poppers Cocktails conjured up one wicked music video. Using their own lyrics as their guide, frontman Patrick Clos came up with the robbery concept to pay hommage to their Bonnie & Clyde-style love song. With their vision in place, Cocktails recruited their camera toting pals, Tyler Cushing and Blake Bogosian to shoot the video on location at sassy Mission vintage boutique No Shop and the band's practice space on Grace St. Meanwhile multitasking bandmate Lauren Matsui acted as director (and getaway driver). A true testament to kids who grew up on candy and MTV, this video has it all: violence, comedy, and silly string, not to mention catchy riffs and sugar-sweet melodies that would do Ric Ocasek proud. But the hardest part about filming a fake robbery in the Mission is proving to passersby that it is in fact a fake robbery. "It took a few people being totally alarmed by our filming a robbery before we actually had someone go out there to be a buffer and let them know it wasn’t real," Matsui explained. For Clos, "The best part was kind of getting drunk and eating pizza while also getting to pistol whip our friends." All in a day's work, I suppose. Add Cocktails to your summer repertoire and you won't be sorry.