When the opportunity fell into David Zlutnick's hands to shoot and edit a video for a song by Bay Area band Business Casual, there was no other choice for its setting.
With directing help from band member Jordan Baxter Stern and nearly a dozen other costumed companions willing to pull shapes and put on a show, Zlutnick said the experience managed to compress several hours of filming into four-and-a-half minutes of fun.
"Everybody met up at the 16th Street platform. We shot a decent amount of it there, and then we hopped some trains and went back and forth across the bay a couple of times," Zlutnick told The Standard. "It was kind of a quiet night on BART, to be honest, but everybody who we encountered was certainly curious but really excited."
The song, part of the Oakland group's May 2022 album Talk About It, is a delightful slipstream impression of the anything-goes environment aboard late-night public transit.
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The video, filmed in March 2023, gathers drummer and vocalist Stern, synthesizer player and vocalist Em Ritchie, and bassist and sound engineer Jeremy Dalmas in a decidedly unnatural habitat: riding the last train out of 16th Street Mission BART Station alongside nearly a dozen surreally costumed friends and companions.
Opening with a train pulling into the station, a skeleton-faced fur-hooded dancer shimmies aboard. The doors close to show the band jamming out alongside a friendly fried egg, an obsolete old-school paper BART ticket, a mask-wearing BARTist and a moon-and-stars-pajamas red-bewigged dancer with a painted face gyrating coolly and enjoying the ride out of San Francisco into eternity.
In between stream-of-consciousness observations about fellow riders and conditions, Stern and Ritchie play papier-mâché instruments and lip-sync along with a low-slung indie-disco-punkish groove.
Bassist and sound engineer Dalmas told The Standard that the band wrote the song together during a jam, drawing in part on some of the ideas from a KALW podcast episode with reporter Liz Mak about scenes from local late-night trains.
Garbage wet with rain and vomit on the floor set the scene. Stern blends social commentary ("How come they get everything, and all we get is the pieces?") with snide come-ons ("Let's give our siblings some nieces / We can ride all night on the last BART") and drug humor ("I think this guy's on PCP / You think he's got some for me? I want to take a wild ride").
"It's people going home, trying to catch a ride after a party, trying to go to another party. There's people coming home from work. It's late night, you know?" Dalmas said. "It's very different taking the BART at 8 in the morning on a Tuesday versus, you know, 12:15 a.m. on a Saturday."
When a Reddit user posted the video Wednesday, approval was the order of the day, with one commenter describing it as "The Residents meet the B-52's."
"This is what r/sanfrancisco should be about all day every day," one Redditor said.
"I’m on board with that," another replied.
BART spokesperson Alicia Trost, reached for comment Wednesday, told The Standard that the video "looks like a blast to film. We love that we are part of whatever culture this is."