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On Public Performance

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A number of you have likely seen Naturally 7‘s subway rendition of In the Air Tonight. Check it out quickly if you haven’t (RSS readers, the video is embedded on this blog post):

Have you ever seen something like this? Likely, you haven’t, and you never will– but have you ever considered why that is?

Next time you see someone singing on a subway, or in a public park, consider your reactions to it: the most basic of human activities, suppressed, now mostly reserved for television.

Notice how enthusiastic the metro riders are at the end, however. It’s likely they won’t see anything like this performance for a long time, and they know it.

Fear of shame, derision, and alienation control so much of our lives– but it’s pretty hard to be remarkable, and get noticed, if you can’t get past it.

* Filed by Julien at 1:08 am under music, random, video


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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13 Responses to “On Public Performance”

  1. Patrick Says:

    iPod guy’s an ass.

    Other than that, see how much talent it takes to bust through people’s metro bubble? They’re 1/3 through before people really start paying attention.

    Great video though, thx.

  2. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Says:

    The places I’ve seen performances like this are inevitably in downtown Boston, where street performances during the summer are relatively common, but you don’t see many a cappella groups performing, except when the BOCA nationals are in town. I love a cappella, and these guys definitely have skills. If you like them, check out Five O’ Clock Shadow, Ball in the House, Rockapella, House Jacks, Duwende, and many more.

    Oddly enough, not that many a cappella groups are podsafe, even those with original material.

  3. mhp Says:

    Patrick: I second that. Seriously, dude didn’t take out he’s headphones until half way through, and still kept his back to them the entire performance.

    Jules: the link to there site is down, myspace is http://myspace.com/naturallysevencom

    Others: who wasn’t singing along by the end of it?

  4. Rob McDougall Says:

    That was great :)

    Why would anyone just sit there with their earbuds jammed in though? Seems mad to me…

  5. Fred Says:

    I wonder where that was! Paris maybe?

  6. Amiel Blajchman Says:

    That happens all the time in Toronto as well I’ve noticed, just mainly in the summer.

  7. Drew Says:

    The youtube page says it is in the NYC subway, but Fred is right, it is in Paris! I happened to send the link to my friend in France and she commutes on that train every day, so she set me straight. Fantastic video, thanks for pointing it out.

  8. Julien Says:

    if it was in the NYC subway, we wouldn’t be able to hear them at ALL. :)

  9. Steve Says:

    I don’t mean to be critical, especially because they have some good talent and all, but doesn’t this look a bit staged to anyone else? I mean, they have multiple cameras at different angles, a microphone that appears to pick up sound excellently from a moving subway, plus it seems nobody gets on or off the train as it goes through several stops.

    Maybe I’m just cynical.

  10. Justin Says:

    I was in a coffee shop one morning at two AM when a table of five guys started singing like this, it was amazing. Last summer after Power to the Peaceful on Muni one woman started singing some of Michael Frantia’s songs and we were all so happy that after she was done we all clapped and yelled and somebody else picked up where she left off, nothing like this though. More of a spontaneous were all drunk and happy sort of thing.

  11. ella Says:

    just out of interest, how do you think you’d react if you were hanging out with someone who suddenly burst into song in public?

  12. Julien Says:

    ella: i’d probably have a pretty negative reaction. it might be influenced by the number of people that are singing– i’m used to a capoeira group singing in public, for example, but not an individual.

    i’m far from the exception in terms of socialization/programming.

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