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Black Cab Sessions & Take-Away Shows: real, simple, brilliant
December 11, 2009, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , ,
Grizzly Bear - Black Cab Sessions

Grizzly Bear on Black Cab Sessions

St Vincent - Take-Away Shows

St Vincent on Take-Away Shows

People are reaching out for new and different ways to experience music, they’re looking for novelty and challenge and discovery. A cool idea can go a long way in this quest to experience music differently, to find something strange and thought-provoking and fun, to experience the bands we love in new ways, and to approximate in the digital age the thrill of stumbling onto something novel and exciting, of jackpots hit flipping through dusty record shop bins or by taking an aural gamble on a friend’s word. In the case of Black Cab Sessions and La Blogotheque’s Take-Away Shows, that means playing with the idea of venue and context. It means exploring music to-go.

Black Cab Sessions are a veritable parade of indie darlings, and the premise is simple: the crew hails a regular cab in London, stuffs a band inside (or not, in the case of Joanna Newsom, whose harp wouldn’t fit, and others, who have had to leave band members or instruments behind), and a handheld camera records them performing a song inside this tiniest of venues. Originally put on by Hidden Fruit Promotions in partnership with Just So Films to promote upcoming shows in town, now the online videos are just for fun, constraining artists in ways that force them to creatively re-imagine their musical arrangements just as much as their physical ones. The unconventional venue challenges the artists and spotlights the music above all–and the intimate, stripped format really suits the lo-fi acts typically showcased. (It’s almost Dogme 95-esque in its emphasis on simplicity, truth, found objects and situations, and the here-and-now ethos–the motto of Black Cab Sessions is “one song, one take, one cab.”)  

In a similar vein is French music site La Blogotheque’s Take-Away Shows (Les Concerts a Emporter), in which director Vincent Moon films as artists hit the streets of Paris to perform a song or two (often with borrowed instruments) and let things unfold organically, playing with context and interacting with the city and its inhabitants, who generally have no idea who these performers are or why they’re there.  These imaginative and simple clips that live somewhere between demo and interview and music video have an unadorned rawness and vulnerability that is charming, an authenticity and intimacy not easily communicated by other formats.  

In both cases, it’s the digital vehicle that makes them accessible and perfect for today’s evolving music model, but it’s the innovative twist on the content and format that really shows an understanding of what people are yearning for in music, and which gives ennui-ridden audiences something worth seeking out.  

Here are a couple of my favorites, but you should definitely check them all out at La Blogotheque and Black Cab Sessions— with a range from Beach House and Fleet Foxes to Amadou et Mariam and  Brian Wilson, you’re bound to find something to love.  

Grizzly Bear on Black Cab Sessions:    
The most recent Take-Away Show, by Phoenix:   

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