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
SLEATER-KINNEY: Modern Girl
(Burn to Shine Portland, 2003)
Modern Girl (Burn to Shine version) – Sleater-Kinney
EDDIE VEDDER: Can’t Keep
(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.