Like Broken Bells’ latest clip, Arcade Fire is pushing the boundaries of what’s considered a music video these days.
“We Used to Wait,” from the band’s latest “The Suburbs,” has been cast into a website dubbed “The Wilderness Downtown” with an interactive interface that takes the address of your childhood home and spits out a unique video experience. A number of moving images, in sync with the music, appear in pop-up windows — some feature a generic shoot of a teen in a hoodie running on wet streets, and some are from Google Earth satellite images of shots compiled from around your old ‘hood.
Granted, get “used to waiting” for the experience to work. The video is intended for viewing in Google Chrome (and, sometimes, Safari) and has an excruciating load time. It crashed my browser three times and I’ve got a machine capable of quantum physics and somersaults. This is likely due to the fact that, now, thousands of fans are trying to operate the site simultaneously. So you may wait until tomorrow to see what a craphole your old house has become.
And that seems to be some of the point. Arcade Fire’s album is a reflection on the neighborhoods we grew up in, in the banalities and nostalgia of the ‘burbs. Running along with our hooded friend through our own street gives off a sense of exploration as well as escape. But the fact that it’s not tailor-made for each user — that this is, in fact, a generic program on its face — in itself becomes a false experience on massive scale. Tantalizing!
The Wilderness Downtown site is a product of mastermind Chris Milk, who took us on a first-person camera trip to the airport in Kanye West’s “All Falls Down” clip and the head-f*ck that was Gnarls Barkley’s cover of “Gone Daddy Gone.”
What do you think of The Wilderness Downtown / “We Used to Wait?”