“Sixteen,” a song about a young girl dancing with the Devil, takes its inspiration from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.” In an interview at Songfacts, The Heavy’s Kelvin Swaby tells how the group happened to shoot the vid in Coney: “Michael Maxxis, the video director, decided that we should go to Coney Island. We were in New York for a few days, and he was like, ‘Let’s go to Coney Island, because it’s just so wrecked, so rotten down there now. And it just seethes the vibe of the song.’ And it does.”
If you Google “seedy” and “Coney Island,” you’ll get more than a million hits, including “The place was magical and seedy at the same time… pure excitement!” But the days of Coney Island providing a seedy backdrop for music vids like this killer of a neo-blues song may be over. Redevelopment has created the beginnings of a shiny new amusement area since the video was shot in 2008.
The carless Wonder Wheel is a clue that the band was here during Coney’s desolate off-season. The monumental wheel feels like the last ride left standing, but if you watch closely you’ll catch a glimpse of the Saturn 6 in motion. The Astroland rocket, seen on the roof of the old Gregory & Paul’s (now Paul’s Daughter) in the video, was put in storage by the City in January 2009 and this season the eatery was renovated inside and out. Coney Island Arcade burned down and Shoot the Freak was banished from the new Boardwalk. The Henderson Music Hall, with its idiosyncratic “Water Raceing” game sign, was demolished to make way for a generic-looking building that looks like it belongs in a suburban mall. Rides fill the empty lot across the way.
The Heavy are playing at New York’s Mercury Lounge on June 18, but it’s already sold out. Coney Island is not on the tour. Catch them in Chicago, Austin, Denver, L.A. and Vegas. Hat tip to food blogger devourNYC for tweeting this vid!
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