Backseat Beat is a video series highlighting indie musicians and the city by the Bay. Armed with Flip cameras, we interview bands in the back seat of our ‘83 Volvo as we spirit them away to unexpected, forgotten corners of San Francisco, where they plug in outdoors to play a few tunes. Each band’s performance transforms these urban spots from their anonymous day to day existence into surreal, magical backdrops.

Everyone knows that senior prom is basically a bunch of horny build up followed by dashed hopes, drunken disappointment and, if you’re one of the lucky ones, bad sex and a not-too-exorbitant dry cleaning bill. We’d been trying to get Social Studies to the prom — um, into the back seat — for months. It turned out to be nearly as tough as convincing your date to wriggle out of that Jessica McClintock taffeta nightmare, but far, far more satisfying.

Then again, the good ones never come easy. You want an example? Social Studies obliged us with a testy Casio that got all shy right before the cameras started rolling. Luckily for the band, nearly a decade before donning an electric blue cummerbund in the hopes of getting laid, we convinced our mom that if she didn’t buy us that Casio keyboard* from the Sharper Image, we’d just die. As we discovered on our shoot, that Casio sounds as good today as it did when we were pounding out hits from our Asia songbook in 1983. But it sounds even better layered into Social Studies’ dark, sexy, cerebral indie rock, perched high above the Cow Palace in a sun-soaked location worthy of the Von Trapp family. (Be sure to check out the full music video for “Delicate Hands” to get the full Kodachrome effect.)

Yep, panties, Peaches, and existentially bereft sorority girls—sounds just like high school, right? No? Oh. I guess not everyone can go to a French high school. Anyway, the band couldn’t have been nicer or funnier (or raunchier). And to think, we used to sleep through social studies in high school. You should be so lucky.

—Dana Goldberg

* You know, the one with the cool analog filter? And the patented Casio BRC breath control that you can’t even find on eBay anymore? Yeah, that one.

Social Studies

About Backseat Beat
Produced by Dana Goldberg & Brad Robertson
Hosted by Jaime Lee Currier