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Live at the Heartbreak Hotel, released last April, is the first full-length album from October ’71, FKA The Rob Stokes Band. The featured song, “Can I Wear This?” is the first official video for the group, directed by Zak Forrest and set at the fictional Heartbreak Hotel. The story comes to life through the various personas in the video—each scene a different version in the same dream-like space.
The simple artistic premise of the video is smartly done, using lighting and a cast of revolving characters to create different moods and interpretations. The visuals become a realistic portrayal of the emotions and experiences one goes through when suffering from heartache—a requirement to stay at the Heartbreak Hotel. A haunted place, the hotel does not discriminate, often seeming more like a nightmare than a dream.
The melancholy lyrics speak as if they’re coming from a different room. They hover over an escape that leans into destructive indulgences, whether that is binge drinking or a quieter and less recognizable state of purposeful isolation. It is often a messy line in which people’s actions affect how we exist, or don’t, with each other.
The spinning tale is a nod to the over saturation that penetrates everyday life—some can swipe past it while others knowingly jump in. The chorus, “If you feel me then you hear me like a passing train/ Cause my sounds just turn to nothing and the winds stay the same” highlights the echo heard by one’s own voice in an empty valley. There is a loneliness that seems to exist in-between the words, and acted out in certain scenes in the video, much like a parallel universe.
“Can I Wear This?” prompts us to question our own relationships, asking if they are a façade or if there is an exposed truth leading us to see what may have been false all along. In the end, there is hope that all will check out of the hotel—with minimal incidental charges.
October ’71 plays tonight at The Pie Shop with Lotion Princess, NOVA ONE, and Vesper Wood. 1339 H St. NE. $10. 7 p.m.