The Alloy Orchestra used to have the new-scores-for-silent-films racket sewn up around here, but over the past few years what was once a novelty has become a niche market, and one of the awesomest bands to jump into the genre has been Devil Music. Aside from being one of the most underrated art-punk trios in town, they also do shit like get their friends together into 30-piece orchestras and put on sold-out neo-classical shows, and then turn around and tour the country playing live to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Their latest film score is for Big Stakes, an obscure silent film that Devil Music's Jonah Rapino explains better than we can; they'll perform it tomorrow night at the Museum of Fine Arts. The show's also a DVD-release party, and (as promised in the fishwrap) we've got an exclusive clip.
"This is the DME's first performance Big Stakes in Boston, and possibly the first screening of the film in Boston ever," sez Jonah. "The screening of this rare Western also coincides with the release of a Big Stakes DVD with the DME’s original soundtrack. This is another first, being that this is the first modern score written for this silent western. When composing their score, the DME drew upon the traditional sounds of classic country and bluegrass, as well as folk music traditions of Mexico. And finally, this is probably the only time this film will get a screening and live musical performance in Boston, so we could call this a once in a lifetime experience?" Sure! "Big Stakes is a special film for many reasons. Made in 1922, it has a surprisingly liberal attitude towards race and gender. Also, the KKK features prominently in the picture as the bad guys. This is a stark contrast to the times, considering that only seven years earlier, legendary director D.W. Griffith released his landmark epic film Birth of a Nation (originally titled The Clansmen) which championed the origin and influence of the KKK. The cliffhanger scene at the end of Big Stakes closely mirrors the one from Birth of a Nation, with the KKK losing this time, and has been called by some critics a subtle criticism of
Hear, hear. See, see: