Catbus – Fracas (Music Video)
by Steven Spoerl
Closing out the first week and a half of great music videos to find release in April is a class that includes Curtis Harding, Mad Anthony, The Zolas, The Dandy Warhols, Tiny Moving Parts, Sioux Falls, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, and BOYFRNDZ as well as Tripping in the Dark, a surprisingly nuanced documentary on Modern Baseball. Beyond those titles was the quietly-released video for Catbus’ “Fracas”, the band’s only song to date and a no-brainer inclusion for this site’s 50 Best Songs of 2016’s First Quarter list. Somewhat surprisingly, the music video for “Fracas” as just as strong as the song, embracing the band’s DIY nature to present the act in a fitting light.
Before going too much further, I’d like to circle back to an astonishing fact: “Fracas” is the only song that Catbus has released. In under three minutes, the band’s made a very serious case for being one of this year’s best new bands. Examining their pedigree (the band’s rhythm section is made up of 2/3’s of site favorites Patio and it’s fronted by bedroom pop artist Phyllis Ophelia), this probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Revisiting bassist/vocalist Lindsey-Paige McCloy’s A Year’s Worth of Memories piece that prominently features Ophelia, it’s also incredibly heartening.
Back to the video: “Fracas” immediately sets its tone with a clever, eye-catching title card and a beautifully framed shot that lingers on what appears to be a dog-shaped coin bank that’s been repurposed into a vase that’s holding flowers (which wind up being a key recurring aspect of the clip). Title cards are also granted to the band’s members whenever they make an appearance, in a manner that echoes Community’s classic A Fistful of Paintballs episode. As drummer Alice Suh enters frame and McCloy and Ophelia gradually work their way in, “Fracas” builds a curious momentum that complements the song its accompanying extraordinarily well.
The direction throughout “Fracas” is remarkably assured, lending a whole new sheen of legitimacy to a project that — and this is the last time i’ll mention this — is only one song into their career. Starting off with Suh ambling around a kitchen, Ophelia haphazardly strumming her telecaster with a hand that’s clutching a maraca as a cat plays on the ground, and McCloy comfortably situated in a bathtub with her bass and a copy of Current Hits for Teens. The latter of those three interiors is where the photography direction starts taking chances, using soft lenses and lighting to conjure up an aura of mystique that ultimately betters the clip.
From the introductory sequences forward, there are a handful of striking cutaways that continuously elevate the artistry of “Fracas”. Whether it’s a low wide of a hallway, a time lapse of the NYC skyline, or the band’s exquisitely framed apartment entrance that pushes the bokeh to the front and effectively draws all attention to the band’s three members, allowing them a fleeting moment where they seem larger than life. The direction of “Fracas” immediately sends them spiraling back down in a sly gesture of self-deprecation that feels perfectly suited to the band. That moment doesn’t last long, though, and the trio finds redemption and sets the party around them into motion by clearing out an area and finally, triumphantly, plugging in to play the song.
As they play, flowers bloom and serve as garnishes for the instruments, they act as hairpieces, they stand out in the projection imagery that washes over the band as they dip into the song’s last section. It’s a beautiful display of symbolism that feels intrinsically connected to not only the way “Fracas” develops but the constitutional beliefs of the band themselves. It’s another piece of essential art in a long line of examples that argues there’s an unbelievable amount of beauty and power to be found in our own modesty. Just as everyone comes together as the song ends, “Fracas” offers up an important epilogue that sees the trio heading out of frame, leaving a trail of flowers in their wake.
Watch “Fracas” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the band.