Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Opening with a montage of Seattle, Burn to Shine's forthcoming Emerald City edition is quintessentially us. The film's opening montage pieced together clips of places here and there — the I-90 bridge, homeless people at a bus stop, downtown hustle and bustle — all familiar, but not cliched street corners. Resting on the house where the video is set, we're treated to inside views of this charming dwelling as sound crews and camera teams set-up for the footage. The house is probably similar to many others set in outlying residential neighborhoods, its early 1900s construction featuring dark wood trimming and thick rafters, large windows filling the rooms with natural light, and built-in shelving tucked away here and there.

Like the other houses featured in the previous three Burn to Shine installments, this house was destined to be destroyed.

For those not familiar with the concept of Burn to Shine, the production team has these five rules:

  1. Gather bands on one day in a house that will be destroyed.
  2. All bands play one song each, and perform their song twice.
  3. No overdubs.
  4. Film the destruction.
  5. Edit and display in chronological order.

The first three were shot in Washington DC., Chicago, and Portland. As with those, the Seattle edition featured songs by local artists. Curated by Benjamin Gibbard, there was definitely a collection of influential Seattle artists of our time, including some rising stars deserving of being mixed in. Set in the empty cavernous living room of the house, each band played a song, with numerous camera angles mixing in and out.

I was honored to attend a sneak peek event for the forthcoming film on Monday night, October 15, 2007 at Chop Suey. Surrounded by Seattle music luminaries, I compiled the following list of the performances that struck me during the film, how the video was shot, and bits of commentary (Big thanks to Sound on the Sound for the final track list).

  • Spook the Horse "Another New Year"
  • Harvey Danger "Little Round Mirrors"
  • Tiny Vipers "On this Side"
    Small Jesy Fortino looked even smaller set far back in the living room, taking up hardly any space in the cavernous room. The camera made up for this fact by focusing primarily through her song on her eyes and mouth. Shots through the window, reflections of other houses masking some of her face, added to the haunting charm that is Tiny Vipers.
  • Blue Scholars "Morning of America"
    This was the only flat piece of the DVD. While it's great a local hip-hop act was included in this local artist round-up, without crowds pumping in energy to the music, the raps just feel half-full.
  • David Bazan "Cold Beer and Cigarettes"
  • Benjamin Gibbard "Broken Yoke in Western Sky"
    Although like Fortino, just a solo musician with an acoustic guitar, Bazan and Gibbard seemed to be more commanding presences in the barren setting. Laugher broke out from the Gibbard camp, seated over next to the bar, when his set came on, which was a bit intriguing…
  • Eddie Vedder "Can't Keep"
    Definitely one of the finer storytellers of this music generation, I'm glad to see Eddie Vedder included among other highly influential players. It definitely created an interesting visual as he looked awkward haunched over an ukulele, seated in the center of the room.
  • Minus the Bear "Arctic Knights"
  • The Cave Singers "Called"
    On film, this band was just as enigmatic as they are in-person. As the footage was shot back in January, the Cave Singers demonstrated a strength even from the start.
  • The Long Winters "Departure"
    Perhaps a bit ironic by name, the Long Winters broke the sleepy winter feeling the rest of the film carried, as one of the harder sets.
  • Kinski "Crybaby Blowout"
    The living room seemed a bit too small for the four-piece Kinski, it could hardly contain them.
  • The Can't See "Bar Fight"
  • Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death
    "Big Bed"-With the soaring guitars and howls of the singer, Triumph of Lethargy could have destructed the house themselves. If the DVD had ended on this band, it would have been very appropriate.
  • Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter "The Air is Thin"
    The film ended, however, on Jesse Sykes, which made for a very bittersweet goodbye to the house.

I won't give anymore away; this is definitely a must-have for anyone who considers themselves a Seattle music lover. The final destination of the house, I believe, is supposed to be kept elusive until the final moments of the film, so I'll keep mum on that event as well.

Visit for more information about the previous volumes, and for information on when our hometown edition will be available.