Best of the Web: Take Away Shows


They happen all around the world, they always feature killer bands, and things are bound to go wrong. Actually, that's pretty much the point.

Take Away Shows is probably the single most engrossing music video site around. They pluck bands from their familiar environments - studios, houses, large concert venues - and cast them out into a strange city, essentially turning the artists into wide-eyed tourists. They ask for original renditions of their best songs - acoustic, maybe, with strange percussion or inverted instrumentation. Then they film the affair. What results is an off-the-cuff, irreproducible performance, out in the open, almost always met with a mixture bewilderment and awe by onlookers. It's a fresh departure from the familiar concert hall setting, where shows often seem flat and impersonal - the artists seemingly bludgeoned by a repetitive, neverending tour schedule. Not the case here.

This was my introduction to the Take Away Shows: The Dirty Projectors in New York. It encapsulates everything I love about the series. Take the segment from 3:50 onwards in the second video - D.P. plays a cover of Black Flag's Depression in the middle of a McDonalds. Some people whoop and holler (sincerely or in jest? I can't tell). Others grumble and slip around them into the bathroom. A Nextel pager goes off a few times, and it almost sounds like another instrument in the mix. The manager tries to take their order while they're playing. Throughout all this, the two women singing backup can't keep a straight face - they hit most of their "ooohs!" but snicker through a few. When they stumble out the door at the end, Amber cackle-shrieking off the buildup of restrained laughter, it sort of feels like a triumphant escape.

Go ahead, waste hours in their archives. Every video's going to give you something new. Here's a few favorites to get you going:

Black Lips

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