Peloton: Seeing the Scene Through Mix-Matched Eyes
Normally if you came up to me and said, "Hey Jef, how would you like to watch a music video from a local band you've never heard of shot from a single angle in a shitty garage interspersed with rapid images of everyday life like some first year film student just discovered amphetamines and decided to become a rock star?", I would break the sound barrier between my fist and your genitals. Who's got time for that lazy-ass waste of bandwidth?
Well, here come Peloton as the exception that proves the rule, because their video for "Kim Deal/Kim Gordon" is a brilliant as it is simple. When Bang Bangz shot their practice session it came off homemade and a little amateurish. When Denniz Polk takes up the camera he makes it look like the overture of a snuff film.
There's just something damned sinister about the setup that compliments the tune's harsh, Jurassic buzzing.
Complementing the ritualistic nature of the private performance is a host of images that swirl across the screen at lightning speed as if you're watching you life pass before your eyes. A host of city scenes, domestic settings, and nature footage edited to jump around like a fever dream give the otherwise static video a sense not only of movement, but of a frenzied goal towards which Peloton is rapidly sprinting with a drawn sword.
"The song is about how is about how fickle music scenes and a good amount of the people involved in them are," says Polk. "It's about taking a little bit of time away from the inside of it all and just watching from a safe view or new angle, so I tried to show that in a way that made sense to me. Which could also mean it may only make sense to me visually, but its how things looked to me.
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"The images all have a purpose," continues Polk. "I thought sunflowers swaying on a windy roadside was the perfect visual to represent a disillusioned punk-rock kid. The buildings are there to show the literal tracking of my steps across the seamless contrast of the two worlds between which anyone in a band bounces back and forth.
"The grainy black-and-white footage of people dancing and whatnot are from old films my dad made when I was four or five and short films I made as a teen," he goes on. "I've always had an unhealthy obsession with the past and memories. I made this video really feel like most of my days look from my point of view and compressed into a few minutes."
Again, normally I would sneer at another band condemning the music scene and claiming a more sincere existence before making with the aforementioned punching of the dick, but Peloton does have a bit more honesty than other acts.
Unlike a lot of bands, there are no "token" folks in Peloton. Melissa Ryan is hardly the "chick: in the band." In fact, rather than glamorized it's hard to even tell if she's female from the majority of the shots, and she lets her bass playing do the talking.
Nor is anyone just lying around to pull in the hipster crowd, or the metal crowd, or the industrial crowd. Peloton's music is genuine, without any real taint of crony appeal. It's a collage of styles that ensures a specific identity without the burden of generalizing it.
As you can guess from the byline, any reference to Kim Deal of the Pixies is going to win you favor with this particular writer, and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon is no slouch either. Both women represent a type of rock star that remains elusive, that of the rock-solid genius who can't really be hollowed out to fit mainstream appeal.
"These two women have been major idols of mine since I was twelve years old and I can honestly say there has not ever been a time I thought of them as old, lame or irrelevant," says Polk. "I can't think of too many of my other ageing heroes I could honestly say have stayed completely cool in my eyes. Springsteen is one of my favorite songwriters of all time, but in 2012 I see him more as maybe the uncle you can cuss in front of, but not exactly 'cool.'"
"Kim Deal/Kim Gordon" is a rarity among music videos in that it manages to create a whole lot out of pretty much nothing at all. For some reason, what I would normally decry as lazy and a lack of storytelling ability perfectly captures Polk's frustration with the music scene.
While I'm not sure I share his sentiments about it being rife with jaded addicts who can't be trusted, I've been a part of it myself for too long to out and out denounce him.
Instead, I'll hold his cinemaudio work up as an example of how he is wrong. As long as the city is producing genius pieces of music-video art like the one he has directed, I will know that the scene is viable, even healthy.
Ironically, Polk's own words prove he's full of it. Still, there's something hauntingly familiar about the opening line, "My community has become immune to me." It cuts a little too close to the place I store memories of bad gigs. Check out the video below.
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