The Maryland Film Festival (click for CP's coverage) isn't the only film/video festival starting up today. The Metro Gallery's Videopolis—which the gallery calls a showcase of "local fringe film and video work"--kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. Videopolis is a refreshing grab bag of regional film/video activity—from a live VJ set from Dubpixel to shorts programs and local director Brian Morrison's DIY crime flick One Down—and one of tonight's programs offers healthy doses of remembering when for area music fans from the late 1980s on.
Bardot's Gems from the Vault is a collection of band performances in Baltimore-Washington clubs from 1987 into the 1990s. Presumably, Bardot—a musician in the bands Dorsal Fink and Zim Zowbie—shot all of these bands hand-held himself. And while the quality is what you'd expect from late 1980s video cameras, it's amazing what a difference a seismic change in distribution makes. Ten, even five years back, watching Bardot's footage might have felt a tad too off the cuff, given that so much live band footage we would be able to see would, more often than not, be more polished, shot on film, and "professionally" lit, edited, etc. I recall a live, bootleg Pussy Galore VHS tape I bought way back when, documenting a show from late in the band's career that was manna from heaven to my die-hard inner PG fan but which felt almost unwatchable when I pulled it out years later in the late 1990s.
Today, such low-res and sometimes grainy images shot with hand-held cameras with in-camera microphones are practically the norm. Online video aggregators mean that we can see footage of just about any touring band shot by fans, and such images are what we consider when we think of live concert footage. Sure, these days Martin Scorsese can hire a small army of top-notch cinematographers to shoot the Rolling Stones, but I'd much rather see the Jesus Lizard flat out slay with "Monkey Trick" from a 1991 DC Space show on YouTube.
Bardot's Gems offers 90 minutes of just such memories, starting off with typically insane footage of the Butthole Surfers in 1988 and then skipping between shows in Washington and Baltimore from then on. And if you were a rock-show going cuss back in the day, you will remember some of these shows: Boredoms 1995 at the Black Cat, great footage of Bad Brains at the Marble Bar in 1987, the Genitorturers at some club in Dundalk, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 at Memory Lane in 1996; Blonde Redhead at Flethcer's, Foetus at the old 930 Club; and great footage of the God Bullies at the wonderfully intimate DC Space. Some of the footage brought back memories of bands, shows, and clubs I had totally forgotten about: the 1995 Ed Hall tour that hit Club Midnite for which band members Gary Chester, Larry Strub, and Lyman Hardy covered themselves in day-glo body paint and played lit by black lights; a 1990 Lunachicks show at Studio 10 that for some reason I think was on Lafayette Street in the old Cignel space; and a 1990 Tragic Mulatt—whose Hot Man Pussy remains one of the great free-wheeling scuzz-rock albums (and titles), and I seriously wonder whatever happened to sax/tuba-playing vocalist Flatula Lee Roth—from Baltimore's Grog and Tankard.
Good stuff. Can't wait to see what else Bardot's vaults reveal.
Bardot's Gems from the Vault screens at 10 p.m. at the Metro Gallery.