Vampire Hands in Duluth, MN
The Twin Cities have always boasted a remarkably diverse, robust music community. But too often, shutterbugs and videographers are preoccupied with the national acts that crowd the First Avenue Mainroom, looking for that perfect shot of MGMT that might fetch a few hundred views on a music blog.
Nick VonBargen, by contrast, is more interested by the home-growns, the local bands that inhabit the Entry, the Turf Club, the Triple Rock. A performer himself (he plays bass in local outfits Dudedawg and The Whathaveyous), VonBargen began filming his own shows to hone his on-stage performances.
The leap from filming his own enterprises to others' was a snap, and on December 29th, he launched his own YouTube channel, called MSP Music, which lovingly archives the endeavors of many of the Twin Cities' best and brightest. VonBargen was kind enough to grant Gimme Noise a quick interview, and access to a few of his videos. Enjoy!
Gay Witch Abortion at the Triple Rock Social Club
How long have you been filming bands in the Twin Cities?
I started filming bands when I moved up here to St Paul from Lakeville in September of 07.
What made you want to start a YouTube channel?
I started by documenting my first band's first shows with my video camera. It was eye-opening for me to watch my own band. When I'm onstage, most of my attention span is on my contribution to the act, both musically and physically. When I watch my videos it is much easier to focus my attention on the whole or towards my individual bandmates.
Performing and reviewing the video are usually two strikingly different experiences. Performing is fun for me no matter what. But when I watch the tape afterward, more often than not I find something that I feel I could improve on, or something about my work that I discover that I don't like, or I realize that I have sub-consciously ripped off another band. I didn't really start thinking objectively about my music or my stage presence until I started with the videos.
Once I got over the shock/disgust that came with looking at my music objectively, I began to make changes and I have become more comfortable and more aware of my aesthetic. I then moved on to filming bands that we shared bills with. Sometimes I did it as a way of thanking them for bringing us onto the bill. More often though, I did it because I loved the band's music and felt that it was important to document.
Baby Guts at the 7th Street Entry
We've had such a robust scene for so long-- why do you think it is that no one had done this until now?
Most hand-held cameras do not capture such high volume well. They are made to film family Christmases, not rock concerts. But for some reason, my camera picks up the sound pretty well. I don't know much about cameras. I use digital-8 tapes, maybe that's it. I have learned to stand in the same spot from the begining to the end of a song, because if I move around the room, the mix changes too much. I also try to stand at the point where each of the amps point to, in order to get an even mix.
Hopefully we will see more local bands on YouTube in coming years. Getting video from old cameras onto YouTube can be tricky. I have seen new cameras made specifically for transferring video to YouTube. I had to buy firewire hardware in order to transfer my videos to my computer.
From your standpoint, what makes for a great live performance?
I think that the music alone should be enough to carry the performance. To me, in-between-song bantering or a flamboyant stage presence seem so arbitrary to the music. A humble, sincere delivery of genuine music is what I prefer. Gay Witch Abortion is one of my favorite bands to watch. No gimmicks other than chugging beer between songs. No choreographed dance moves. They just stand there and play the shit out of their instruments. Little if any regard for the audience. Its just about the music.
Gospel Gossip at the Turf Club