Saturday, October 17, 2009

regina spektor and the consequence of sounds

despite my very slow recovery from flu-ness, this week meant Regina Spektor!! it was her first show at radio city music hall and she was obviously overwhelmed- in a grateful, i-can't-believe-i'm-here way. as my first time in radio city as well, it was pretty awesome. (though, as she lives in brooklyn, i wish i had caught her at one of the smaller venues. she played at the beacon in june, but those tickets sold out pretty much instantaneously. even radio city sold out- i was lucky i happened to see a fan presale just as it was announced.)

our seats were much better than i was afraid of--i mean we were in the center orchestra section and could see her clearly. and yet, it was impossible not to watch the huge jumbo trons. i don't attend huge shows very often, so i have no idea when the concert world shifted. back in the day, yes we had the jumbo trons so you could see the artist from far off, but you still watched the stage. but this show, and i imagine it can't possibly be unusual, the show was jumbo tron-centric.

here we are actually watching the event live-and in good seats- but instead of watching the stage you're drawn to the giant screens and the facial close ups. it really changes the production of a stage show. the lighting and pyrotechnics,  which can make a show "wow," become secondary to the camera and live editing. in the extreme close up you can't see the stage lighting , so really there's not much point.

i wonder why this is? what's the difference between, say, dave matthews a million year ago and regina this week? i didn't watch dave through the screen, i watched the stage. but even consciously paying attention to the stage, i was half watching the screen, enough so that i was totally aware of how advanced and dynamic live editing has become. --that is, the cameramen/producer did a great job cutting and mixing shots as it happened.

i'm inclined to think that this is only partly the result of advanced production equipment. maybe it has more to do with our hyper-techno society.  here in the ipod decade, we are constantly in extreme closeup.  we are immersed in media. when we're not watching a screen, we plug it directly into our head--the extreme close up version of sound.

and to get super nerdy on you, most media is/has shifted towards the extreme closeup artistically.  that is, more directors and editors of video--music video, television, ads, etc--use extreme close up camera shots than ever before. this isn't random, it is a direct result of the "ipod decade"-- small screens make up a huge percentage of our visual consumption today. ipods, phones, computer screens, handheld games, car tvs, portable dvd players-- it never stops.  these screens are tiny. tiny screens don't like broad, expansive shots. they like faces.

it becomes a loop. the technology forced us to create tighter. then we crave tighter. now we see a resurgence of 3D media, putting us a foot closer to players--like you're standing just inside the door. so when we're actually a part of the live action--but one of hundreds, it doesn't feel close enough. you watch the live music video and its cross cuts that capture regina's smile, that glint of conspiracy--you are with me-- instead of watching the live action that is too far away to imagine you're in the inner circle.

that being said, there was one awesome moment when they focused the lights on a huge disco ball, partly hidden behind instruments. the ball reflected a galaxy of stars across not only the stage, but the theatre as well--quite a feat in the cavernous radio city.

well, whatever the truth of it is, i fully admit to being a convert. and on the other hand, maybe it partly regina herself that incites this reaction. her music is poetry and piano and -on this occasion- some strings. intimate. her and me. and she did encore with Us just for me. obviously.

1 comment:

  1. i had a similar observation about camera work last night, only it involved the shooting of baseball. i am not a fan of the sport, but it is fascinating to observe how watching the sport of baseball has changed due to the way a baseball game is shot. i remember as a kid going to watch "the arsenio hall show" from the directors booth, and being in absolute awe of the director as she called the show. she called it live, with three cameras, and totally tells the story of the show while it is happening. she was amazing! i later found out that she started as a director of music videos for some of the most popular artists right when MTV was starting, but switched to TV because she was more excited by the prospect of shooting a show live.



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