Indie Rockers Before They Were Famous

Scott Lapatine | April 21, 2011 - 4:01 pm

After watching the recently unearthed footage of Arcade Fire playing a house party in 2002 and a 17-year-old Robin Pecknold covering Radiohead and Simon & Garfunkel, I thought it would be fun to collect more early videos of our favorite bands from before we ever heard them. Well, fun for us, maybe not so much for them…

Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend) 2005

The band got its name from this low-budget horror film Ezra made after freshman year of college. His character’s name is Walcott and he hunts vampires. Look for Wes Miles of Ra Ra Riot in this too.

Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) 2003

Watch the Fleet Foxes frontman at 17 covering Radiohead with his friend Aaron Mannino. (They do Simon & Garfunkel too.)

Alexis Krauss (Sleigh Bells) 1997

Check out 0m7s and 0m41s to see half of Sleigh Bells reading about Jonathan Taylor Thomas in a commercial for Nickelodeon Magazine.

Dan Rossen (Grizzly Bear) 1987

Before Grizzly Bear and Department Of Eagles, Daniel Rossen was a pretty great five-year-old Elvis impersonator. He probably still is, actually.

Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) 1993

Ben’s high school band Oddfellows Local covered “God Save The Queen” at the Kitsap County Punk Show, kicking off a long career of unlikely Gibbard covers.

Joanna Newsom 2002

In the “New Obsession” video for her older brother’s band Pocket For Corduroy, Joanna gets a bloody nose at 1m21s.

Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) 1985

Long before he won an Oscar, Trent played keyboards with Cleveland synthpoppers Exotic Birds. Here’s a local news interview with them.

Noah Lennox (Animal Collective) 1999

Panda Bear starred in this short film when he was a student at Boston University. (Thanks Stefan!)

MGMT 1998 & 2004

Two pre-MGMT clips for you. Andrew VanWyngarden’s high-school band Glitter Penis (with friend Dan Treharne) is up first.

Do they give out EGOTs for old MGMT YouTubes? Next, “The Management” (Andrew and Benjamin) cover Talking Heads in the Wesleyan courtyard in 2004. 4/20, in fact.

Bradford Cox (Deerhunter) 2004ish

Rare footage of Bradford performing with The Beach at Atlanta’s Drunken Unicorn. See if you can spot Colin Mee.

Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio) 2001

You may have seen Tunde in the not even bad Rachel Getting Married, but few have seen his starring role in Jump Tomorrow, a film school project he completed a few years before the band formed.

Robyn 1989 & 1992

Eight years before “Show Me Love” made her last name superfluous, Robyn Carlsson voiced the character Miranda in a Swedish-Norwegian animated film The Journey To Melonia. (She also supplied the Swedish voice of Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go To Heaven.)

Soon after the future dancehall queen made her TV debut at 13, singing the theme “Nummer Ett” on Swedish kids sports show Lilla Sportspegeln. Stick around for the Q&A…

Feist 1999 & 2000

In ’99, Leslie Feist got a job in the burgeoning Electroclash industry, working backstage at her friend Peaches’ shows. Feist dubbed herself Bitch Lap Lap and began wearing a sock puppet. This is Peaches’ video for the song “Lovertits.” Feist is the one caressing the bike. The rest is herstory.

Feist also appears along with Broken Social Scener Brendan Canning in By Divine Right’s 1999 video for “Come For A Ride.”

Chantel Claret (Morningwood) 1991

Jessica reminded me I left off Chantal Claret’s hypnotizing OPRAH appearance. Back then she had excessively morbid thoughts, now she is the lead singer of Morningwood.

Amanda Brown (Pocahaunted) 2003

As if getting Pwn3d by Penn & Teller wasn’t enough, Bethany Cosentino took all their buzz when she quit.

Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast) Early ’90s

Speaking of Best Coast, as a child Bethany appeared in a number of commercials including this memorable one for Little Ceaser’s. Keep an eye out for the girl in the blue dress. (Via Amplified.)

Got more? Post ‘em in the comments.