Movie Magic and Morning Concerts with @untiltheribbonbreaks
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“I am full of adrenaline.”
British trio Until the Ribbon Breaks (@untiltheribbonbreaks) have just finished an animated morning set at Coachella, the annual Southern California music festival, and lead singer Pete Lawrie Winfield is enjoying a post-set cigarette and vodka. He’s excited and, honestly, a bit surprised. How many people were going to show up to an 11:45 a.m. concert? As it turns out, a good amount.
“It started out empty, which is always … you know, I accept that we’re on early, but if it fills up at this hour it feels like we’re doing something right.”
Before their performance, the group found themselves stuffed inside a trailer on the opposite side of the grounds, reflecting on both the pressures of playing an early time slot, and having to change up their normal stage routine. They typically come armed with a video presentation, but this time had to abandon it, due to the sunny weather.
The bright desert landscape is a far cry from the environmental challenges the band faced earlier in the year, on the opposite coast, in the middle of a brutal winter. At one point on tour, their car got stuck in a snowdrift, and they posted the resulting struggle to get out in two wheel-spinning videos. The footage matched their usual cinematic black-and-white aesthetic. The only thing missing was the familiar sight of instruments, palm trees and pools.
Visual creativity has been apart of the band’s identity since its inception. While making their recent debut record, A Lesson Unlearnt, they projected the expansive landscapes from Terrence Malick and Baz Luhrmann films onto the walls of their studio with the sound off, in order to open their minds to different tones and rhythms.
“If you project an image moving in front of you, huge on the wall, the whole room is suddenly as big as you want it to be,” explains Pete. “It’s not just four walls anymore. It’s a solar system, which allows your brain to go a lot further.”
After the album was finished, the group reversed the process, posting custom clips of the films they used with the newly finished music. The most popular was a mix of the track “Romeo” with Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet . The band has been toying with directing their own music videos too, and sees the medium of film as a way to experiment with future songwriting narratives.
“I do love what we do with film,” says Pete, but adds, “It would be nice to intertwine it with some of our own [video work].”
Thirty minutes before showtime, and the band’s manager peeks his head into the trailer. It’s time to get going. The trio say they aren’t nervous about high-profile shows, just apprehensive –– what they refer to as runner-in-the-blocks impatience, like an Olympic athlete waiting for the starting gun to go off. But today they appear to be in good spirits. In one pre-show clip, drummer Elliot Wall is sitting alongside multi-instrumentalist James Gordon, eliciting a joyful “Yeaaaahhhhh” into the camera while being driven to the stage in a flower-covered golf cart. In another, Pete gets shifty eyed while jokingly referring to his “pre-Coachella nerves meltdown.”
Right before their set, less than 100 people have gathered, most of them sitting on the ground, looking weary-eyed from a night of desert partying. The number isn’t promising, but it begins to fill out once the first electronic tones and beats start pumping through the speakers. As the show gets going, Pete waltzes around stage, singing and belting out trumpet solos, while Elliot, mouth agape, bangs away on the drums. Meanwhile, James is in his musical cockpit of pads and synths, tweaking knobs and hitting keys. People stand up, scream and sing along. On paper, the early set time is a hindrance. But, as Pete says afterward, it won’t matter in the long run.
“In a couple of years we will be playing last, so it’s fine.”