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Mike Relm: Clown Alley

By Dylan Silverreviews
Apr 10, 2008 - 1:01 AM

Photo by Hilary Charlotte
Hendrix had the guitar. Simon and Garfunkel had their harmony. Clowns have their place. Bjork has her eerie voice. Napoleon Dynamite had his dance moves. Rage Against the Machine had their power. The Beastie Boys had their rhythm. Eazy E had his rhymes. The Outfield had 1986. Pee Wee Herman had his happy madness. Larry King has his gross obliviousness and dull stare. And Bay-Area multimedia star and world-class deejay Mike Relm has them all ripped, wrapped and scratched into his recently released 3-D DVD called Clown Alley.

The film—written, directed and starred in by Relm—mimics his live shows with simultaneous mixing and scratching of video and music. Clown Alley features several clips of his blurry-fast hands whizzing over the tables and mixer during performances at the 2007 Winter X Games and Coachella, along with shows in in San Francisco and Detroit, among others. But more than a simple live video, it’s a bouncy combination of diverse visual media, from the Office Space “O Face” clip to a faked Larry King interview and Relm’s own skits matched with a soundtrack that exclaims Relm’s broad musical tastes.

Watch the Clown Alley trailer:

Though very few of the multimedia clips have anything to do with one another, they form a semi-cohesive plot and a window into Relm’s live act. The film winds through visual segments from Resevoir Dogs and Dave Chappelle’s skit about the division of music among races. Relm mixes Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” punctuating it with live footage of himself and Hendrix. He twists Bjork’s “Human Behaviour” song and video into psychedelic electronica, making Bjork look psychotic in the process. One of my favorite combinations is Napoleon Dynamite’s dance crossed with AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” And I don’t think the Beastie Boys music was originally meant for Lucha Libre wrestling but with Relm’s touch, any match is possible.

Relm’s acting sketches are a little boggling, but they manage to reveal his charisma as a screen performer. As hinted with the DVD title, Relm created a short 3-D movie about clowns, cut it into segments and inserted them throughout the video. Essentially it’s a good versus evil spin with Relm battling devilish-looking clowns with nothing but a horn, his signature black suit and silly string.

Through snippets of Relm’s smiles and interactions with his audience, it becomes obvious Relm really enjoys what he does. “I basically took things that I love: music, film and technology and just kind of rolled them into one thing that I do on stage. It’s a lot of fun,” he says during his faux Larry King interview.

Clown Alley is Relm’s second DVD production. He is currently on the closing leg of a 150-stop tour with the Blue Man Group. He returns home to headline at the Independent in San Francisco on May 10. For more info, visit www.mikerelm.com and http://www.myspace.com/mikerelm.


Dylan Silver is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco.

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