Apr 022012

This one goes to zero!

Rock Town Hall has a long and honored tradition of rock video analysis, with Townspeople often incorporating the distinctive technique of commenting on videos with the sound off. In honor of alexmagic‘s recent analysis of a video of Tom Jones performing with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, we are instituting a new feature, Sound Off!

The way a Sound Off! thread works is simple:

  • A video is posted for us to view with the sound off.
  • We comment on what we’re seeing with the sound off.
  • We most likely share in the sense of wonder that there’s much to learn about music with the sound off.

You will be entrusted to view the following video with the sound off. If we could disable the video’s sound we would, but something tells me the copyright holder of the video might object to that. Trust us, for the purposes of this thread the sound will get in the way. Beside, you may be viewing this at work, in which case coworkers will only be distbured by your giggles; you won’t have to worry about the artist’s music leaking into their cube.

After the jump, why don’t you turn the sound off and watch the following video!


  19 Responses to “Sound Off!”

  1. tonyola

    I am reminded of the old joke…

    Q: How many guitarists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: Five – one to screw it in and four to watch and say “That’s nothing. I can do better.”

  2. cherguevara

    It reeks of “blues hammer.” I’m pretty sure this one doesn’t need sound, ever.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    Come on, man. Steve Vai’s guitar playing looked much cooler in that “Yankee Rose” video. And where’s his double-necked “heart-guitar”? This is just poor. Piss poor.

  4. 0:37 – Vai: “Yeah, whatever – this is one of those boring parts where someone’s singing.” A good re-creation of a face we’re all too familiar with.

    I wonder what direction they gave that woman – “Fulfill every cultural stereotype white men have of black women, OK?” I can’t imagine them saying that, but I can’t imagine what else they could have said.

    Anyway, I kept waiting for the karate fight – I guess that was one of the other movies starring Ralph Macchio and an elderly member of an ethnic minority.

  5. How could I forget the “See? I have a whammy bar! You DON’T” moment?

    Having listened with the sound on, I have to correct myself – It’s an instrumental, so Vai’s 0:37 face is more inspired by “Here’s the boring part where we play the riff that’s the actual basis for the song.”

    It’s also rather mind-blowing how truly awful the song is – worse than you would imagine (really). And with the sound on, you realize that Vai’s 4:00 face is “Oh; a coupla minutes ago you were playing pretty well, but now that you played like CRAP for the past minute I respect you.”

  6. cherguevara

    To add, I’m always amused by stupid movies that turn some random skill into a competition. I understand that this sense of competition does actually exist with blues guitar players (though it’s clear there’s no real blues here (see previous blues hammer comment)).

    I just envision a film highlighting some really stupid skill. “You call that a grilled cheese sandwich? I’ll show YOU how to make a grilled cheese sandwich!” And then there’s big crowd of everybody the underdog knows, thrilled and proud when said underdog triumphs by creating the greatest grilled cheese of all time.

  7. alexmagic

    If this scene from Crossroads was 86 minutes long, I think it’d be what a Rock Town Hall: The Movie as produced by me would be like.

    Taken with the sound off, I want to give Steve Vai props for tremendous emoting skills. The angry coat shedding/guitar strapping and steely look at Macchio in the first eight seconds sets the stage right away.

    The next Vai-light comes at :37 seconds, when Vai shoots a slightly worried look to his dancer when the old guy breaks out the harmonica. You can definitely get a “Uh oh…a harmonica?!” vibe from him, and maybe a little uncertainty as to why this guy is allowed to jump into the fight.

    Vai-light #3 comes at :48, when we get the full body shot of Vai airhumping away as he jams to what’s going down on the other side. It takes Macchio almost half the clip to reciprocate, but Vai’s at full speed less than a minute in. Just good sportsmanship on display here, and proof that Steve Vai could have survived Billy Squier’s “Rock Me Tonight” video.

    Vai-light #4: At 1:32, Steve shows us that he’s determined, but now starting to worry about what’s coming next, all while still working in a shoulder shimmy. Nicely done.

    1:54: Check out the eyes! The steely determination has started to crack, panic is setting in.

    2:36: Vai has just finished a 720-degree spin into a double knee slide, two (TWO!) Mr. Roboto Bows, two Freddie Mercury Headtosses and a direct assault with the whammy-bar in under 30 seconds, and all that confidence is restored. Macchio and his mentor are broken, Steve is Vai-umphant.

    2:48: BUT WAIT! A terrific headwhip by Vai let’s us know that that his celebrating is pure hubris. Excellent slow-burn by the guy playing The Devil at 2:51 to back Vai up here.

    More of the Vai acting clinic at 3:19, as we get his reaction shots to what surely – with the sound off – must be the greatest guitar playing of all time. Just a complex expression there conveying that Vai is a cornered animal while also showing his awe at Ralph Macchio’s hand-stand-in’s awesome guitar fury.

    The final Vai-light comes at the very end, starting at 4:00 even. Vai looks like he’s about to cry, and then gives Macchio an almost imperceptible head nod, acknowledging that Macchio has defeated him. Masterful.

    Anyway, my point is, Steve Vai deserved that Golden Globe for Best New Actor that he got in 1986.

  8. trigmogigmo

    Billy Squier is back, baby! I didn’t know he could attract a jam packed room at a blues bar.

    Also, I noticed that the guy who built the Terminator was observing this battle royale, probably doing research on robotic finger mechanics. Or on robotic ACTING.

  9. I think there was an episode of SpongeBob on this topic.

  10. cherguevara

    I would like to see that.

  11. 00:07: I need to see if I can learn how to fling on my guitar the way Vai does. That’s really cool.

    00:14: How about the way Vai thrusts the Black Temptress at Macchio, as if to say, “This is deeper than the blues, young man. We are now trafficking in da blooz.” Then Vai corrals her as Macchio tries to back away.

    01:10: Vai and the Black Temptress start pulling out all sorts of pelvic thrusts in effort to distract Macchio and Pops Miyagi. The Kid maintains his steely, early-1960s bar band posture until the 1:15 mark, when he seems dazed by Pops Miyagi’s attempts to chop away the Black Temptress and a gyrating Vai. Pops finally casts out the Temptress long enough for Macchio to regain his conservative bar band stance.

    01:31: Emboldened by his ability to stare down the Chicken Double-Thigh Slap, The Kid rips off a solo that causes Vai to stop in his tracks and watch. “Just like I taught you,” thinks Pops at the 1:35 mark.

    01:49: Vai respond with a Roy Head-worthy spin and split, them then jams the body of his guitar into his crotch. I don’t know what that was supposed to signify, but it must have hurt!

    02:10: Vai next tries to impale his midsection, causing Pops and The Kid to look on in horror. Vai seems to be losing it at this point.

    02:28: Vai rips off one of his strings and somehow manages to solo on the broken string! I’m reminded of when Willem Dafoe’s Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ reaches into his robe and pulls out his beating heart for his disciples to see.

    02:50: As Vai celebrates prematurely and the Sharp-Dressed Man in the audience smiles broadly in appreciation, Pops Miyagi has lost faith. But that’s not how Pops taught Macchio, is it? Sharp-Dressed Man is the first to catch onto The Kid’s comeback solo. Pops is becoming so impressed by his student that he will probably die in the next scene.

    03:20: Vai is searching for an answer in a scene shot from the perspective of a Dino DeLaurentis Bible epic. I’m pretty sure that shot is based on a shot from The Ten Commandments, when Ann Baxter’s Nefretiri realizes she’ll never have Moses to herself. It’s a look of longing, betrayal, jealousy, and ultimately admiration. Really powerful way to end the blues-off.

  12. Yes, the Fry Cook Olympics, or something like that!

  13. BigSteve

    I’ve never seen this movie, but that clip was even more horrifying than I had any idea it would be. I fear that with sound it would be unbearable.

    Don’t we all wish we had access to a wise and unthreatening elderly black man?

  14. Horrendous. It makes me long for those carefree days when we would made due with a single song-length number by the Charlie Daniels band. And, Charlie didn’t need no Hollywood Steve Vai ringer. He played both the Devil and Johnny’s fiddle part good enough for us old-timers.

  15. ladymisskirroyale

    “Hey, what’s the Karate Kid doing in my 8th circle of hell?”

  16. hrrundivbakshi


  17. Happiness Stan

    I only managed to watch about a minute of it, and lost interest and not being into hair rock I have no idea who any of them are, so I didn’t make it as far as the bit when the hairy guy with the axe and matching expression whipped off his trousers and Y-fronts and started waving his lurve machine about.

    At least I assume that’s what happened next.

  18. BTW, how appropriate is the guitar ad featuring Steve Vai that’s been appearing at the top right corner the last couple of days?

  19. ladymisskirroyale

    Perhaps more appropriate than the Norton computer security package I’ve been getting. Do you think there are different East/West coat ads?

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