Burn to Shine
's formula is straightforward: Gather top bands from one city in a house scheduled for demolition, then film each playing a new song. No fans, no stages -- just unadorned live performances filmed with unfettered access on high-definition video cameras. The brainchild of Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, the first episode was meant to be a one-off documenting Washington, D.C.'s best bands, known and unknown. But as good as the individual performances were, the overall effect was even more impressive, reflecting the scene's diversity and communal spirit. So a second edition was filmed in Chicago, and the latest focuses on the vibrant Portland scene.
Overlooking a golf course, in a home the fire department burned down after they finished, Quasi and the late Sleater-Kinney deliver the indie-rock goods, followed by Mirah's gypsy flourishes, the Decemberists' sea-chantey orchestra, Lifesavas' spirited hip-hop, the Shins' luminous pop, explosive power punk from the Thermals, and Tom Heinl's off-kilter country. Nearly stealing the show are the Ready, a quartet of girls from 11 to 13 with a gift for melody far beyond their years. The talent here definitely shines bright.