March 30, 2008

Baby we only got today, and then the moment’s gone forever

The Burn To Shine DVD series artfully combines two of my favorite things: cool old buildings and terrific bands, with a series of performances captured within the doomed walls of homes slated for destruction. The cameras roll for the band alone, and by the time we see the footage, the building no longer exists.

This series is a project of Fugazi dummer Brendan Canty and filmmaker Christoph Green (the pair also directed the Wilco Sunken Treasure DVD). Musicians representing the regional scene are selected by local “curators,” including Ben Gibbard in the Seattle film and Chris Funk of the Decemberists in Portland. The musicians set up shop in the condemned building, each performing one song, one take, on one day. Then the local fire department will receive the property and it will be destroyed by fire for training exercises.

What makes these films exceptional is the weighty sense of a fleeting, ephemeral moment that will never happen again. I’ve thought about this, but never been able to articulate the concept as finely and viscerally as the combination present in this series does.

So often I’ll see an exceptional performance in a venue, and the next time I’m there I might think of what took place on that very stage. But the moment is gone and will never happen exactly the same way again. This series crystallizes that into footage and teases it out to the forefront — the way that musical creations dissipate, and how they are fleeting by their inherent nature.

Baby, we only got today, and then the moment’s gone forever.

WILCO: Muzzle of Bees
(Burn to Shine Chicago, 2002)

Muzzle of Bees (Burn to Shine version) – Wilco

(Burn to Shine Portland, 2003)

Modern Girl (Burn to Shine version) – Sleater-Kinney

(Burn to Shine Seattle, 2005) – I love this house’s architecture

Can’t Keep (Burn to Shine version) – Eddie Vedder

Read the excellent full listing of who has played for this series, and if this concept interests you, you must listen to the podcast interview with Brendan Canty about the series. Canty talks about how the concept got started during a period when Fugazi was undergoing a time of flux and dissolution, and how he wanted to capture that feeling somehow through this old building that fell into his lap. It’s a fascinating and brilliant concept, and a series deserving of further development.

Vol 1: Washington DC (2001)
Vol 2: Chicago (2002)
Vol 3: Portland (2003)
Vol 4: Louisville (not yet released)
Vol 5: Seattle (2005)

Burn to Shine 4-DVD complete set


  • Now that is quite a coincidence! I just picked up the Seattle piece of the set yesterday.

    volume-addict — March 30, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

  • we have very similar musical tastes. i was recently introduced to joshua james’ music, and absolutely fell in love. i think you’d like him, give him a listen!

    music lover — March 30, 2008 @ 8:22 pm

  • You’re right, that house where Eddie Vededr played was beautiful. I’d love to know why it was torn down. Or burned down, rather.

    jcroach — March 31, 2008 @ 7:20 am

  • Ah, one of my favorite SK songs. Thanks for putting it up.

    Stephen — March 31, 2008 @ 9:55 am

  • One of my fave PJ songs, and I like the eukelele version. It’s sweet pickles.

    Bona Fide Darling — March 31, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

  • As a hugh fan of arts and crafts/mission/bungalow design and architecture all I could focus on was the room Eddie was playing in and think “Why are they burning down this house”. At the very least they should have removed all the paneling and moldings for reuse in some other property. Like mine for instance.

    Anonymous — March 31, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  • I love watching Ed. I just wish people would not mess up the aspect ratios of videos!

    Anonymous — April 1, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  • After viewing the Seattle DVD, I’m glad to report that the house wasn’t burned to the ground. This may be the first time in the series that it ended up being trucked off and relocated to another neighborhood?

    Seattle definitely recycles.

    volume-addict — April 3, 2008 @ 12:40 am

  • Where’s the Ted clip? He’s sick. Best of DC “burn to shine” by far.

    Eddie B — April 7, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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