Monday, January 31, 2011

0 WATCH OR DIE! #14: MTV's $5 Cover

First thing:

Yes, we all know MTV sucks. Everything about it sucks. Just a sucky essence I guess.

Bad break MTV - *sniffle, sniffle* *wah, wah*

Just occupying the same space seems to infect. A sucky plague, clingin' to your clothes.

And that shit smells.

Don't forget the smell. The smell will remember and remind the other senses to remember. It is good to remember the suckiness.

Glad that's over. Let's not focus on the obvious.

Let's break this $5 Cover shit down.

  • The idea. $5 Cover is an excellent idea.
  • The music.
  • Amplified. A series of documentary shorts focusing on some of the bands and director, Lynn Shelton, and is most certainly the strongest part of the $5 Cover project. The director, John Jeffcoat, demonstrates considerable talent at documentary film-making. He interweaves interviews with musical performances and intimate glimpses of band member's personal lives with ease. Despite being a short, Amplified manages to peel the layers, going beneath the surface to reveal character experiences. It's engaging! It blows the actual show away - no contest! Here are some highlights of Amplified:

    1. The Lights. One evening, while listening to KEXP, The Lights came on. Ever since that night, I have been hooked. Beautiful Bird kicks ass and their story is interesting.
    2. The Spits. Anything with the The Spits in it I will watch. That's a fact. They rule. The interview with Sean in Amplified rules! I wonder when my 2004 DVD will show up?
    3. The Moondoggies. Something likable about these guys and this band.
    4. Champagne Champagne. Interesting band. Fun to listen to.
B-Sides. Highlights:
  • WARNING: DANGER!. If $5 Cover needed some interesting material, they shouldhave followed W:D! around for a week or even a day. How interesting would it have been to see the guys creating all the costumes or organizing their safety paraphernalia? This B-Side was shot by Taco Cart's Wes Johnson and produced/directed by Lacey Leavitt. Lacy produced the The Off Hours, directed by Megan Griffiths who also worked on $5 Cover. The Off Hours is playing at the Sundance Film Festival as we speak. Congratulations to all involved. Excellent work.
  • (Side Wookie Rant - Call me picky, but shouldn't film makers spell the band names correctly? Yes, the name is Warning Danger. Technically, it's spelled right, but doesn't capture their true spirit. It's Warning: Danger!. See the difference? Ok, I'm done being an obnoxious language maven, for now.)
  • Tube Addiction/Verellen. Excellent B-Side. Again, this should have trumped one of the lame $5 Cover episodes. In fact, the entire series could have centered at the Verellen amps! Imagine the stories! Imagine seeing Helms Alee composing a song or just jamming. INTENSE! Then, having access to the other bands who are seen (and not seen) during the episode. Seriously, it could have been the best music series of all time! Everyone at SRG highly anticipates Helms Alee's new album. Man, oh man. They rule!
  • Top Pot. My God! Billy "The Fridge" cannot be stopped. He's a doughnut eating machine. Stand back, he's seeing doughnuts!
  • KEXP. Cool story. I like KEXP. Seriously. Shows like Sonic Reducer, Seek and Destroy, Shake the Shack, Audioasis, Positive Vibrations, The Roadhouse, and Preachin' the Blues consistently rock. Radio normally sucks, but not KEXP.

    (Side Wookie Rant - Ok, I enjoy a bit of KEXP, but I have a couple of pet peeves with the station. First, Monday through Friday I stagger through the fives/sixes preparing for work. This is a dangerous time for KEXP. Jon in the Morning likes to blast the mope. Trust me, there should be no mope blastin' during the fives or sixes or sevens for that matter. If mope rock took the shape of a club, Jon would use it to reign down several mopey blows until one gazed at their god damn tennis shoes for a month. However, to be fair, when Jon plays hip hop I am happy. He and I share the same tastes in hip hop. It's his small rebellion against mope. His mopey masses probably barrage his inbox with complaints when he strays from the whiny trail. Screw them Jon. Blast the hip hop. This brings me to the hip hop show: STREET SOUNDS. Sometimes on Sunday, when I tune into KEXP, it feels like I just wandered into AM country with the constant talky, talk, talk streaming over the airwaves. It's like going to see Suicidal Tendencies or Ice-T before he turned into an actor. Patiently, I attempt awaiting until music resurfaces because they play good music, so sometimes it's worth the wait. Bottom line: more music, less chatter.

The story $5 Cover attempts to tell can be seen clearly in Amplified or B-Sides. Unfortunately, it doesn't deliver within the fictitious narrative. Despite being well shot and exhibiting excellent music, the story comes across as fake and contrived. Just look at the dancing. Everyone dances the same way. Bunch of same dancin' mother fuckers. No joke. Just go to a Spits show, then watch the "Spits O'Clock" episode.


Even more problematic, the characters outside the scene are portrayed as douche bags and, by taking that angle, the story comes off as, well, kind of douchy. Director Lynn Shelton attempts creating an atmosphere of realism but fails. In the end, $5 Cover resembles a can of Coors Light - watered down swill aimed at spoon feeding the masses.

(SIDE WOOKIE RANT - In The Spits episode, if you pause it perfectly, I can be seen in the crowd dancing like the rest of the clones. No joke. The MTV conformity spreads like a virus infecting all in its wake. Nasty! And that shit can be itchy too. Stupid MTV.)


$5 Cover should be viewed if you like the music and/or live in Seattle. The good news is Amplified and B-Sides save the day. Make sure to watch both. Normally, I'm pretty laid back, but after watching $5 Cover, the ghost of Travis Bickle entered my consciousness. The world just seemed annoying. I would walk down the sidewalk, head down, muttering under my breath about sucky things. Truthfully, the short episodes help with stomaching the whole thing, although it took me a few days to finish the entire show. Shit can be painful, people! Seriously, as soon as lunch begins its subversive rantings in the belly encouraging riot, the episode ends, the sickness dissipates, and that human being feeling returns.

That's no way to live, but don't take my word for it, see for yourself. WATCH OR DIE!!


Words by Jerry Howard


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