Tuesday, April 07, 2009

MAPS - 'Desolation Row'

As part of the very popularMAPS series’ here is part two, the Tower Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The Tower was built in the mid 1920s, a fertile period for the kind of construction that is a boon to music videos hungry for production value.

Downtown LA has a couple streets and corners that can convincingly play the role of a big city on the East Coast – one of the reasons that lots of videos get shot in a handful of blocks. The recent economic downturn might be bad for the recent condo-splosion and loftapalooza going on in the formerly deserted-after-dark downtown core of the city – but maybe empty buildings will make it easier to get a permit. Nearby the Tower are some other spots that get even more ‘work’ – but we’ll get to them later.

I picked out a couple videos that have been shot at the Tower, but I am sure that many, many others have used the moody, yet ornate interior to great effect. Feel free to post any other links you can think of in the comments below.

The recent My Chemical Romance clip off the Watchmen soundtrack was shot inside and outside the Tower. The decrepit but grand interior does a good job of complimenting the MCR performance, and the neighborhood definitely adds to the 'Desolation Row' vibe. My impression is that they are giving Mr. Zimmerman the flavor of the punk group Generation X – Billy Idol’s original band. Gerard even breaks out the Madonna-esque faux-Brit accent. Outside the theater the kids get all aggro.

You can see even more of the Tower’s look with some Watchmen EPK, behind the scenes footage.

Chris Brown’s “With You” uses the streets around the Tower (one would assume) as well as the vertical marquee as the backdrop for the main performance. As the camera circles over and around Breezy you can’t see the handcuffs, but you can see the Tower in the background and the director’s name added onto the outside of the theater.

Poke around on the Tower Google Street View and I bet you can see all kinds of music video hot spots near Broadway and 8th.

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Nothing says showtime in my mind quite like that marquee.

- N
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