The Cave Singers?“Dancing on Our Graves” video | Matador
Evangelical Christians are the new ?black. Documentaries like Jesus Camp and bands like Sixteen Horsepower ?have liberally injected the images and language of American spiritual ?fanaticism into the pop-culture bloodstream. There’s a reason Borat made ?a pit stop at an evangelical revival. ?So on first glimpse of the new Cave Singers video for their recent Invitation Songs track “Dancing on Our Graves” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssN2_B7351U), I was a little wary of yet another addition to this pat churchly paradigm. A couple of things, though, caught my attention: (1) A few moments into the video, when singer Pete Quirk first appears and the preacher character starts lip-synching, I realized it was not composed of archival footage, as I initially believed, but was entirely original live action; and (2) unlike many preceding “exposés” of the God fearing, director Mike Ott surprisingly, amazingly, manages to keep the video from being at all tongue-in-cheek or condescending. There is no sarcasm that I can detect. Even the inclusion of a “freak,” a one-and-a-half-armed man who plays the guitar with his stump, leaves little room for abasement. The video is dreamy — enhanced by Ott’s method of hand-processing and distressing film — and an entertaining, rhythmically engaging accompaniment to the song itself. It is also perfectly cast. I don’t know if Ott found these people through a casting agent or just recruited them from a local Newhall community center, but they don’t seem at all out of place in the world of religious zealots. Sure, some may say that it’s not the place of secular West Coast artists to exploit religious zealotry, regardless of the project’s tone, but those people can go to hell.