The Velvet Hands have just released a music video for their new single “When This Is Over,” a track in support of the Music Venue Trust. Audrey Golden can’t stop listening to it.
I don’t think this song could be any catchier and quite honestly, I love that it’s stuck in my head. Which is perfect since it’s also for a great cause: all proceeds are going toward the Music Venue Trust. Listen to this song, check out the music video, and #saveourvenues.
It opens with warm, electric G, C, and D chords. And then the chorus comes in: “Yeah we’re really going, yeah we’re really going to the pub, to the pub!” If it were another time and place, the song has the kind of sound that might have led Jake Riviera to sign the band to Stiff Records. Of course, it’s the 21st century in the middle of a pandemic, so the Velvet Hands reimagine the idea of “pub rock.”
While the video starts with that oh-so-familiar image of Zoom squares on a lockdown computer screen, the band soon breaks free onto the streets. The Velvet Hands walk purposefully down a quiet road toward the camera in a tight medium shot, singing. I was immediately reminded of another music video from the past that I’ve probably watched too many times. The shot’s a nearly perfect graphic match to early scenes in Green Day’s “When I Come Around,” as the band walks the seemingly empty streets of San Francisco in the early ‘90s. (Mark Kohr directed the Green Day video, and he was a fixture of sorts on the MTV music video scene in that era, making other great shorts for Primus, No Doubt, Alanis Morissette, and Tori Amos.)
Of course, it all makes sense. The Velvet Hands on the whole feel like a 21st-century incarnation of the garage-pop-punk bands of the ’90s that loved the Clash and the Ramones as much as I suspect these guys might. “When This Is Over” fits perfectly alongside the band’s previous work.
Speaking of music from decades past, the hand-held camera and the light leaks in the video for “When This Is Over” add to its vintage look, but any nostalgia is short-lived—those empty streets, the empty pubs, and those Zoom screens have become some strange new reality. The viewer is quickly brought back to the pandemic-stricken present by suggestions that we need to support independent music venues now more than ever.
At one moment, animated images of the Velvet Hands recall a-ha’s “Take On Me” music video from the mid-’80s, moving between a hand-sketched image of fictive life and a real-world reality. Digital pen-and-ink outlines of the Velvet Hands play on stage while the longing words “one day soon the bands will play, bands will play, bands will play . . .” fade out, and one by one the band disappears from the stage. The visuals and lyrics serve as a melancholy reminder that it might be a long time before we’re back in venues again for live music.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite pretty desperate circumstances for a lot of musicians and venues these days, the band still seems to be having a lot of fun. Circling back to the lyrics, in an interview not so long ago with the Velvet Hands, they were asked to pick an inspiring song lyric. They responded with the Beatles’ “Na na na na na na na na, Hey Jude.” The lyrics in “When This Is Over” take that “Hey Jude” refrain in a completely different musical direction while still paying homage to it. The song starts and ends with the band singing loudly, “Na na na na na na na na. Na na na na na na na na na!” Hope you’ll join me in getting the song stuck in your head for awhile to come while you’re dreaming up ways to #saveourvenues.
Audrey J. Golden is a literature and film professor who lives in New York. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.