I don’t have cable. Instead, I watch a lot of Netflix and YouTube — especially the latter.
Not only is YouTube a fantastic place to watch live music performances, it’s got just about every other kind of content you can think of, from vlogs to recipes to video essays and beyond. Here are a few channels I (Chris) personally subscribe to and make sure to watch every video from.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve fantasized about visiting (and possibly moving to) Japan. One day my dream may come true, but until then, I have to live vicariously through a number of “J-vloggers”. My favorite at the moment is Texan in Tokyo, run by a married couple named Grace (from Texas) and Ryosuke (from Japan).
What I love about their channel is that they take you on various adventures throughout Japan, exploring places like shrines, temple pilgrimages hot springs, restaurants, and Tokyo itself. They also discuss cultural differences between the US and Japan and more.
By now, you’ve probably at least heard of Casey Neistat’s daily vlogs, but if you’ve not gotten around to watching them yet, do it. They’re surprisingly well-produced, and he often has good things to say on a number of topics. A couple of my favorites are “Fat and Lazy” (which always makes me feel like I’m not being nearly proactive enough in life) and “Asleep at the Wheel” (where he discusses the importance of editing in storytelling).
- Honestly, I don’t personally know of any other channels doing daily vlogs of this caliber. I’m sure they exist (especially given Casey’s success) but I don’t really care to watch a bunch of imitators in this field anyway.
Whether you love them or are sick of them, video essays on filmmaking technique are all the rage these days. The foremost example in the field is Tony Zhou’s Every Frame a Painting series, wherein he analyzes various kinds of storytelling throughout film history.
As a cinematographer himself, he’s fascinated by what works in film and what doesn’t. He always offers stellar insights into filmmakers’ decisions, like why you don’t remember any music from Marvel’s films (embedded above), how to do action comedy, using motion to convey meaning, ensemble staging, and much more. Each video is a treat.
I’ve been following “Chef John” Mitzewich’s Food Wishes blog and YouTube channel for years. His style of teaching you how to cook is just delightful, even if — no, especially because — he’s always making terrible rhyme jokes.
Some of my favorite recipes of his are breakfast sausage patties, classic hash browns, apple cider-glazed pork chops (these are always a hit in our home), and the greatest of them all, the honey sriracha chicken wings. Suddenly I’m feeling hungry.
- Fifteen Spatulas
- Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt
- BBQ Pit Boys (I probably wouldn’t get along with these guys in real life, but man I’d eat their food all day)
To this day I’ve never found out the real name of the guy who runs the Primitive Technology channel — does anybody know it? — but boy they are fascinating (and relaxing) to watch. In each video he constructs huts, tools, and more in the wilderness, using only natural materials he finds in the area.
Sometimes his projects are months in the making, such as his first video, where he built a wattle and daub hut from scratch and with a fireplace. He’s also made a primitive bow and arrow from scratch. Take some time and watch all his videos.
I love so many of the “Take Away Shows” performances captured by La Blogothèque. There’s…
- The Arcade Fire playing in an elevator and then exiting into a crowd of fans.
- Yeasayer drunkenly walking and singing through a Paris subway station (this was before they replaced their drummer, who seemed like a great guy and I’m still not sure what happened there).
- Local Natives assembling one-by-one while walking through the Galerie Vivienne
- Patrick Watson singing into a megaphone in a Parisian alleyway (more specifically, in Place de Clichy; I love the moment when he takes over the accordionist’s instrument).
- …and many more.
But the performance above with St. Vincent and Andrew bird is kind of the defining one for me. According to the original story, the two artists had never met before this performance, and magic ensued when he began improvising with his violin over her song “What Me Worry”:
That evening, control of the situation had escaped us. The artists did as they pleased, and gave us more than we would have dared to ask for. And we’re so very glad that they did. We had tried to persuade the two of them to perhaps play a song together, and there were vague talks of a Dylan cover. Then, Annie arrived, and Andrew, who was supposed to leave, simply failed to do so. He was sitting at the other end of the piano, his guitar in his hand, improvising along to all of her songs. We were no longer organizing a concert in an unusual setting. We were watching, transfixed, this pure creation, this enchanting duel.
There are a million-and-one indie musicians with excellent YouTube channels I could link here. I know that. Even so, Gabe Bondoc’s videos always stand out to me. He has an infectiously cheery attitude and breezy musical style that I totally connect with. Some of my favorites are “Anywhere Anything”, the rendition of “Treat You Good” above, and “If We’d Never Met”.