Perhaps you were expecting a straight performance piece? That’s not at all what director Spike Jonze had in store for the opening act of the first-ever YouTube Music Awards on Sunday night (October 3).
Instead, in the first of what promised to be a night of “live” music videos from the likes of Lady Gaga and Tyler, the Creator, the show’s creative director enlisted indie darling actress Greta Gerwig to dance like nobody was looking to the strains of Arcade Fire.
The real-time video for AF’s “Afterlife” opened with Gerwig (“Frances Ha”) standing in an apartment kissing a man, in what clearly seemed like a grim goodbye between the couple. The sadness didn’t last long, though, as Gerwig started punching the air in time to the song’s rhythms and dancing wildly all by herself as the song’s tempo picked up.
But the apartment couldn’t contain her, so she busted out the front door and headed down the hallway, shaking her jazz hands at the camera and emerging in a snowy forest set. The camera tracked her as she bopped through the trees, her trembling digits moving all over the screen as she silently shouted the lyrics to the song.
Still waving them in the air like she really didn’t care, suddenly Gerwig was joined by Arcade Fire singer Win Butler, who hung behind her in the snow like a ghost. Accompanied by a troupe of young girl dancers on the floor of New York’s Pier 36 (where the awards were taking place) Gerwig continued her goofy hoofing as the full compliment of Arcade Fire finally came into view. Like the dancers, they were dressed all in black and white, with the camera mostly focusing on Gerwig as she just kept dancing like she’d never seen a mirror.
By the end, she smiled, lifted her arms up in victory and hugged Butler as he hissed “shhh-shhh-shhh” into the microphone. “We love you, Lou,” Butler said in closing, giving a shout out to recently passed punk icon Lou Reed
And so a night that promised an improvised, chaotic awards webcast got off to an appropriately unexpected, strange start.