Seattle indie band Head Like a Kite has been filming a new reality TV program, called "On the Brink," this week in six cities, with the final gig Saturday, Nov. 22, at Neumo's in Seattle.
Today, Friday, Nov. 21: Right now, Seattle electro-pop duo Head Like a Kite is doing one of four things, depending on the time of day you read this story.
If it’s between 8 and 10 a.m., they’re playing to tourists on the Observation Deck of the Space Needle.
If it’s 1:30 p.m., they’re playing to students and teachers at Meany Middle School on Capitol Hill.
If it’s between 3 and 6 p.m., they’re driving to Yakima in a smelly, overcrowded Dodge Sprinter van.
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And if it’s after 11 p.m., they’re playing to a room of powder-blue tuxes and poofy gowns at a venue called Yakima Sports Center for a prom-party-themed gig, on the penultimate night of a marathon 10-day tour.
As the three gigs in one day suggest, this has not been a typical tour. These 10 days, in fact, have been the most difficult of the band’s two-year career.
A seven-man film crew has accompanied Head Like a Kite singer/songwriter/guitarist/dapper dude Dave Einmo and possibly-android drummer Trent Moorman for the duration. The entire tour — the van, the gas, the gigs, the film crew, the big box of costumes, the pounds of confetti, the snazzy video phones Einmo and Moorman have been using — it’s all sponsored by AT&T and Broadband Enterprises for the purpose of TV. Reality TV, in fact, on the Internet, for a Web show called “On the Brink.”
Its climax comes Saturday night, when Head Like a Kite brings the film crew and a slew of special guests to the finale at Neumo’s. Several hundred people will be at the concert. Producers estimate that 500,000 viewers will watch “On the Brink” online once the syndicated Web show debuts next month.
In understanding the ringer the band has been through, it’s important to know that the credits of the producer of “On the Brink” include “Dancing with the Stars” and “Survivor.”
“It’s all under the premise of these challenges that we meet through the course of the day,” Moorman said from San Diego last Friday. “The film crew is not just following us around, it’s a director saying, ‘Here’s what you’re gonna do.’ And so from 8 this morning we’ve been doing scenes where it’s like three takes of everything. They wanna show us using the technology and make it look like we’re completing these various reality-TV-style challenges. It’s just the first day, and already it’s a bit much.
“I think they’re trying to push us a little bit,” he continued. “Showing up at 8:30 in the morning? It’s ridiculous. We’re a rock band. We haven’t gotten any sleep. It’ll be interesting to see if we can not snap at the director.”
On Sunday Moorman checked in again, after a trip to Las Vegas, where their challenge was to sign up strangers for their e-mail list.
“We got some classic footage. I’m wearing a blue jumpsuit with an Afro, a big white boa and these fairy wings strapped to my back. And Dave [Einmo] is in an orange jumpsuit with fake teeth. You’re in Vegas, you’re walking down the strip, so everybody wants to take a picture and hug you. Then we’re like hey! Sign this legal document!” (Everyone the band speaks to on camera must sign a release.)
Here’s Moorman Monday morning in Los Angeles, before shooting a video for the song “Six Boxes of Confetti” that afternoon on Venice Beach, loopy from lack of sleep:
“They’re leading us around like show dogs. I just hope they edit it in a way that makes us look good. I don’t care if they show us messing stuff up or making mistakes, but I don’t wanna look like a cheese ball, you know?”
Later that night, after six hours behind the cameras: “Basically, all the bums on Venice Beach are in our video.”
Then Einmo, who seems to be taking things less personally than Moorman, got on the phone.
“It’s a different experience for a modest indie band to be traveling around with a film crew,” he said. “I guess I should enjoy it because we won’t always have that.”
And finally, Wednesday evening, here’s Moorman once more, while in the van heading to San Francisco:
“No blowups yet, but if there is, Friday [today] will be the day that it happens. Three shows, thee setups — it’s gonna be a test. There’s a distinct possibility of some sort of meltdown. And it’ll be good. And it’ll also be on film.”
Head Like a Kite, Truckasauras and Slender Means play Neumo’s Saturday, with doors opening at 8 p.m.; free.
More must-see shows this weekend:
I hereby nominate David Crosby, Frank Zappa and Freddie Mercury to the Mustache Mount Rushmore of Rock. Local candidates can be found at the Mustache Rocks! Music Showcase at the Sunset. Benefiting 826 Seattle, the night features Say Hi, Black Daisy and the winner of the Mustache Battle of the Bands, Hazelwood Motel (9 tonight, $8).
Be glad there’s a sense of humor to the Whore Moans, because if these guys weren’t laughing they’d be breaking stuff. Saturday they celebrate the release of their new album, “Hello from the Radio Wasteland!” — all dark storm clouds sans silver linings, aggravated scream-‘n’-blues rock — with a show at King Cobra (with the Hands and Wild Orchid Children at 9 p.m. Saturday; $7).
Jonathan Zwickel: firstname.lastname@example.org