It began as a simple enough idea. Freelance designer Kyle Costill decided in summer 2011 to film some musician friends performing in his Oaklyn, N.J., backyard. With plans to shoot one web video a month, he hoped the changing of the seasons would put indie rock in an ever-evolving context.
That didn’t quite go as planned: Ultimately, the backyard looked and felt like the same backyard. But the part about taking music out of the rock club and out of doors was a success, and the newly branded Bands in the Backyard project was born.
BITBY produced a remarkable string of videos its first year, some 180 at last count. The monthly shoots at Costill’s home have showcased experimental space-rock outfit Arc in Round and riot-grrrl-inspired trio Break It Up, to name two. Soon, they branched out to other locations for mini-features: a Bartram’s Garden sit-down with the distillers at Art in the Age; a lively reading by comedian Juliet Hope Wayne; a blurry, massively excited clip from Meek Mill’s 25th-birthday concert at Union Transfer. If BITBY is out on the town, they’re probably filming it, with most of the video by Costill and his partner David Kain.
These days every music fan with a camera and a Vimeo account wants to make their own Black Cab Sessions. But rather than chasing the Arcade Fires of the world, BITBY’s focus is the local music and arts scene first, grabbing the occasional small-time touring band (Metz, for instance) a distant second. Their 40,000 or so YouTube views may seem modest, but considering the project’s aim, it’s actually kind of impressive.
Talking with folks about BITBY, I find naysayers who ask, “What’s the point? They’re just working with bands people haven’t heard of.” I say that’s exactly the point.
This tiny cassette-based label is building a cool little scene around their lo-fi bands’ small shows and handmade albums.
Last year he gave us The Plague, his “song cycle of apocalyptic vignettes” that included parts for a string quartet. This year he released Siddiqah, a two-song EP including an epic 15-minute track that feels like a movie. Very composed. Very cool.
Made in America
The doomsayers were legion, but Jay-Z’s gigantic, two-day, multi-stage concert delivered on its promise of big names (Kanye, Pearl Jam, etc.) and a boost to the local economy (a reported approximate $10 million).
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