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July 09, 2024

Music videos for – and by – Philadelphia artists will play at the Bok Building later this month

Among the participants in the showcase on July 18 is Alex Da Corte, who has directed videos for Tierra Whack and St. Vincent.

Music Music Videos
Music video showcase Tierra Whack/YouTube

The music video for 'Shower Song' by Tierra Whack will be featured in the showcase at the Bok Building taking place Thursday, July 18. It was directed by fellow Philadelphia-based artist Alex Da Corte.

Nostalgic for the hourslong blocks of music videos that used to play on MTV and VH1? A returning event is bringing that familiar format to South Philadelphia, with a local twist.

Music videos directed by and starring Philly creatives will play in a special showcase at the Bok Building's auditorium on Thursday, July 18. Starting at 7 p.m., the organizers will screen 24 videos across music genres and video styles, with the creators in attendance. It will be the fourth iteration of this event held in the city since 2023, and the second to take place at Bok, though its roots are even older. 

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According to its co-creator and organizer Don Vincent Ortega, the showcase was born out of pandemic project at the former Sunflower Philly space in Olde Kensington. He began screening scary movies at the outdoor venue, and soon looked for a way to build out the program. He found the answer with the help of his old friend Raymo Ventura, an animation director based in the neighborhood.

"We're both creatives, we both work on music videos and have worked on music videos in the past," Ortega explained. "And especially during the pandemic, there wasn't really a place ... to actually highlight them except for on social media, which, you know, they just get a couple days of likes and then disappear."

Ortega said he had to beg friends to submit videos to the first showcase, but that's hardly the case for the upcoming event. The showcase has grown enough to acquire a host — local musician and personality Cat Daddy — and much larger pool of submissions. The organizers received 55 music videos for consideration for the latest showcase, and ultimately selected about half due to time constraints. The submissions that made the final cut displayed remarkable quality, narrative and creativity, Ortega said, but they also gave viewers "something to talk about."

That's apparent from selections like Jacy Farrow's "Glow," a whimsical romp through the woods featuring puppets and people styled as bunnies and foxes. Kam DeLa's "Sake," on the other hand, bounces between neon dance parties and church choir practice with bits of animation punctuating the performance.

At least one Philadelphia artist who's graduated to the national stage will also appear in the showcase. The colorful video for Tierra Whack's "Shower Song" is part of the event, thanks to Philadelphia-based filmmaker Alex Da Corte, who has another featured entry with St. Vincent's "Broken Man."

Ortega, who's worked for MTV and VH1 in the past, sees the showcase as a way to keep the traditional video countdowns alive. But he also views the project as a directory that fans (or talent scouts) can consult to discover filmmakers who match their styles. The organizers try to highlight as many different sounds as possible, taking everything from the trap scene in South Philadelphia to the folk artists of West Philly into account.

"Philly has its own very specific audience," Ortega said. "... The more that we do this, I've come to find out there's these little pockets of, just subcultures within the city. I think it's cool to kind of tap into these things and show people that this is happening."

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