Minnesota Week has really started rolling here and we (Who is we? I am.) couldn't be happier. Today we'll be looking at a video by Trip Shakespeare. Today they are known primarily as the band that 2 out of 3 members of Semisonic were in before they got famous, but they actually released two albums on a major label. Neither of the albums did well, though, and today no one outside Minnesota remembers them fondly or remembers them at all. In Minnesota, though, they are thought of as a seminal influence whose jangly pop sound and vaguely experimental psychedelia was directly responsible for the work of Josh Hartnett.
Thank you, Trip Shakespeare.
Anyways, Minnesotans are not prone to being demonstrative. Let's say you are having fun. For the sake of argument, let's say you are not drunk. If you are Minnesotan, you might do the following things:
1. Laugh through your nose a little bit.
2. Look away from people and smile.
3. Mention to your spouse a few weeks after the fact that you "had a pretty good time."
These kinds of things, which are commonplace in Minnesota, do not play well in other parts of the country. People would think that the Minnesotans were somber. It comes from our Scandinavian blood. Many non-Scandinavians don't realize that Ingmar Bergman's film Cries and Whispers is a hilarious comedy. It is just a bit reserved. Bergman doesn't want to show off.
So, what do you do if you are trying to become a nationally famous band and you are a Minnesotan with a fun song? Let's take a look:
Oh god, it's horrifying.
The answer to my question is, apparently, that you fake it. You look at some pictures and videos of non-Minnesotans having fun and you do your best to pretend. The members of Trip Shakespeare are clearly not good actors. Like alcoholics whose slow, careful walk is designed to hide their drunkenness, Trip Shakespeare's carefully choreographed revelry is designed to hide just how uncomfortable they are with the whole thing.
Look at this picture:
Each member of the band is carefully posed to indicate fun.
Here is a sexy woman:
No one in Minnesota appreciates that kind of clothing. It's just not practical. We prefer a nice, skin-tight sweater. It's both hot and hot.
The singer, who grows up to be the milquetoast lead singer of Semisonic, has long hair, but we aren't fooled.
It's possible that the bass player (he's on the left) is having a little bit of fun. The guy on the right is in pain, though.
None of them knows how to dance.
They think that sharing a microphone might give them a carefree, Beatles-ish vibe. Once again it is forced.
This guy is the worst actor of them all.
I think if you wrote a text book about body language you could use this shot as a perfect example of being uncomfortable. His shoulders are hunched. His whole body is tight. The expression on his face is pained. This guy is not having anything even similar to fun.
It's time to quit, guys.
The band seems to agree so they give us another shot of a long-haired Dan Wilson.
And then end the song. At this point someone from the label must have shown up with a whip. Because even though the song has ended they start playing again.
They are whipped into a frenzy!
Then the song mercifully fades out.
Here's some advice: When you stop playing, you have made an agreement with the audience that the song is over. Do not breach their trust. They will be angry. This is the same reason that encores are terrible. When a band walks off-stage, the show is over. I leave. You should too. Jesus, people. Get your shit together.
I don't want to sound like I hate this video. I don't. I'm obligated not too because I'm from Minnesota. This is what I found to like:
I like all the cheerleaders or whatever they are. Are they supposed to be bachelorettes?
She also seems pretty uncomfortable, though.
This person has a lot of self-confidence.
I also like that they put a Minnesota reference in the video. If you were paying attention, you noticed this shot:
Any Minnesotan music fan recognizes that brick painted black with white stars on it. That is First Avenue, made famous in Purple Rain. This is good. Trip Shakespeare know who they can count on so they threw that in for us.
Join me tomorrow when I talk about a band you actually care about.