Vintage video

The collection of dusty, decomposing tapes salvaged from the basement of First Avenue is back for an encore.

Last summer, they were culled to produce First Avenue Hayday, a documentary featuring concert footage recorded at the venerable Downtown club between 1985 and 1992. (Note, heyday is purposely mispelled in the films title).

This summer, plan to revisit MTVs heyday.

The Basement Tapes is a series of six DVDs collecting music videos produced by Minnesota acts in the 80s and 90s. Showing Tuesday nights at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, the series will include videos from 55 bands, including Arcwelder, Hsker D, Babes in Toyland, Low and 12 Rods.

Submitted to the club for promotional purposes, the videos were shown between sets on the main stage. They were typically tossed aside after a few years of use, former First Avenue manager Steve McClellan said.

The ones that didnt get stolen, relocated, stepped on or dumped ended up down there (in the basement), he said.

When he left the club in 2005, McClellan tried to save as many of the tapes as possible, stashing them in the garages and attics of friends across Minneapolis. Soon, Minneapolis producer Rick Fuller started digging through the deteriorating treasure trove.

Most of them (the videos) were unlabeled or horribly decayed, Fuller said.

Fuller transferred the all videocassettes to DVD for preservation purposes. Then he set the music videos aside to start work on the live footage that would eventually become Hayday.

That movie premiered during last summers Sound Unseen festival, showing as a benefit for Diverse Emerging Music Organization (DEMO), a local nonprofit headed by McClellan. The Basement Tapes will also benefit DEMO.

DEMO Board Member Heidi Vader was tasked with editing the six DVDs. A teenage scenester when the earliest videos were made, Vader said the project illuminated faded memories of First Avenues forgotten acts.

The ones that jogged my memory the most were the ones by Jesse Johnsons Review and Mazerati, she said. Everybody forgot about Mazerati.

Embarrassing fashion is a recurring theme of the earliest videos, and Mazerati was a shining example of 80s rocker style.

They used to dress pretty much in womens clothing, Vader said, a get-up that included pearls and paisley blazers with giant shoulder pads.

Some of the video concepts are equally as adventurous as the fashion choices.

When asked to pick a standout video, Fuller was quick to answer.

Certainly, The Replacements Bastards of Young was not only a one-of-a-kind video, its still regarded as a standout video (today), he said.

The video, from the bands 1985 album, Tim, was a repudiation of MTV-style glitz. The video was filmed in black and white and consists of a single shot: a stereo speaker on a living room floor.

That video stood out so much on MTV and (the alternative music show) 120 Minutes as just being a big Take this to music videos and the industry, Fuller said.

Other notable videos include Flipps grungy cover of The Whos My Generation. The no-frills recording earned airplay on MTV after winning a contest for unsigned bands.

While younger viewers may chuckle at the mullets and makeup, The Basement Tapes documents an important era in Minnesota music history, Fuller said. It captures a broad cross-section of bands from that period, from Prince and Soul Asylum to a number of lesser-known acts.

Black Spot, for example, is a band that was just a short-period spin-off of Rifle Sport, Fuller said.

Vader said each DVD includes about 45 minutes to an hour of videos. Viewings will be accompanied by live performances of DEMO bands, trivia contests and question-and-answer sessions with the musicians in the videos.

The Basement Tapes series begins 8 p.m. May 29 at Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, 810 W. Lake St., and continues on Tuesday nights through July 24. Tickets are $810.