Remember staying up late in the late 90’s on a Friday night turning the tv over to ABC and hastily hitting the mute button on your remote as scattered images blurred in front of you and the words RAGE RAGE RAGE were unpleasantly screamed at you? Hopefully you hit that mute button, you lowered the volume, didn’t wake up your parents and spent the rest of the evening delving into music video bliss as some obscure guest programmer introduced you to their (and soon to be your) favourite music videos and songs.
Who didn’t watch and think “I could do this, I’d love to do this. Maybe one day if I make it, I’ll get to show the world my favourite songs, and explain what they mean to me and why”?
Well, this is the experience re-created at gRage for the You Are Here (YAH) Festival. On Thursday night gRage kicked off with Declan Greene, writer, theatre-maker and, for the night, guest-programmer at Smiths Alternative Bookshop. Yes, for a brief moment Declan was able to live out all of our dreams and spend the night presenting and discussing his favourite music videos. But don’t presume that this means that the evening was a dull montage of songs strewn together with self-indulgent commentary. On the contrary, the chemistry and seamless banter between Declan and compere James made it difficult to not feel immersed in the conversation, whether it be a discussion of Macaulay Culkin’s gigantic lips, the desecration of country music by Ann-Margret, or a more intellectual exploration of the presentation of self-destructive behaviour in art. As Declan and James explored each song, as Marilyn Manson transitioned to Nina Simone and Declan explained each film clip and the reasoning behind their selection, it felt as though I, and the rest of the audience, gained a slight understanding of Declan, his influences and how he has come to be where he is today. Because aren’t we all at least somewhat defined by our top five music videos? That is, after all, what this night was about. It was a night of self-expression, of music, discussion and nostalgia. To quote Declan himself: “isn’t the past great?”
gRage will host seven different guest programmers throughout the YAH festival, concluding with local rollerderby star and glass artist Lucy Quinn on Friday 22nd March.
Reviewed by Ash Goldberg
Ash Goldberg is submitting work to us as a part of the fantastic Papercuts program put together by the beautiful people at Scissors Paper Pen. The work and opinions belong to them, we are simply giving them a space to show their work. Also check out gRage throughout the You Are Here Festival.