How else can music videos innovate these days? Arcade Fire took you to your childhood home. Craig Wedren offered a first-person 365-degree video experience. Now Death Cab For Cutie are throwing their own hats in the music-video ring with their "You Are A Tourist" experiment. Although they're not pushing boundaries as far as technological advances, they've utilized the power of the Internet to create a video which was streamed live on April 5 in one take--sticking with the result, no edits, no do-overs. I guess the idea is not much different than, say, watching a theater play or seeing a live show, but I nonetheless got nervous watching the countdown clock on broadcast day.
There was a live webcam of the set where the viewer could see assistants, prop guys, and others frantically scurrying around, with people yelling, "Two-minute warning!" and so forth. As the clock counted down to showtime, I braced for the big event, but instead was knocked off course with a pre-taped intro and a few sponsor commercials. Fair enough; pay your bills, guys.
Finally, back on set: Lead singer Ben Gibbard struggled a little with the lip-synching at first (the video was live, but DC4C did not play live), but eventually fell into the rhythm of things. With lovely showgirl dancers, balloons, lightbox rooms, and clever use of projected images, the video surprisingly went off without a hitch. I won't go into the details, since you can see it for yourself below. But suffice to say, the concept was reminiscent of the lavish stage performances from 1950s movie musicals. More recently, the performance reminded me of Beck's 1996 "New Pollution" video, which featured similar psychedelic lights and antics on a soundstage inspired by '60s variety shows--although it was infinitely more random.
And I have to give props for the "indie" light-up suits. While we've of course already seen a number of pop stars being blasted into, or coming down from, outer space, it was nice to see a light-up suit that was cool, quaint, and didn't try to tread on Daft Punk.
To close out the live stream, the "cast" had their Saturday Night Live-style thank you and good nights at the end, bringing the director and behind-the-scenes folks on camera.
"You Are A Tourist" is Death Cab's first single from their upcoming album, Codes And Keys, which is out on May 31. For those of you who missed the live broadcast (3,856 viewers tuned in), here it is, in all its uncut glory: