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Enter Shikari: Music Video History

Steven Loftin
Steven Loftin 17 April 2020 at 13.49

Few bands have toyed with concepts, politics and boundaries quite like Enter Shikari. Prolific doesn’t cut it when it comes to the four lads from St Albans and their consistency in driving forward, just look at their video output for the last decade and a half.

They’ve always managed to draw together a sense of humour with supremely important topics, just by being themselves and standing strong. So as they celebrate the release of their new album 'Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible', we thought we’d have a look back across what they’ve got so far

Where it all began, featuring one camera pointing downwards and a messy show that, amongst all the pixels, lies a young band full to the brim with ideas that over the next decade and a half will come to carry out.

The iconic Enter Shikari video; a tiny house show, an anthem and drummer Rob Rolfe in the mythical yellow ‘Cheerios’ shirt. It’s a time capsule of UK youth culture in the late-noughties, and of Enter Shikari.

A continuation of the rough ’n’ ready iconography of their early years, there’s a little more glint in the eye of Enter Shikari in their woodland rave performance that cements the hype that was bubbling around them at the time.

Bursting out of the back of the Shikari Ferrari, the bands old touring van, the video for Jonny Sniper contains elements that feature heavily through the rest of the catalogue including; lasers, lights, energy and even a teeny bit of hologram. It all comes tied together with the impression they knew this was a road they were on for the long haul by blowing up the Shikari Ferrari and paying homage to where they’d begun.

Keeping on the path of being a band with plans, the tin foil wrapped, well, everything, and homemade aspect giving life to those ideas that they come to explore further down the road.

Common Dreads was Enter Shikari’s first real foray into political statements, and the introduction to this new, charged Shikari became apparent in the societal barrage of Juggernauts, featuring the four members chained to large posts in front of a setting sun.

Continuing the politicised onslaught, this time taking aim at the ones batting eyelids in the name of greed. A platform they’ll use more prominently, the ‘no bullshit’ approach, culminates with the band, and a rampant crowd, all in the antagonists garden. It’s this turning point that would come to shine further down the road.

Showing the growth the band had over the past couple of years, comes a simple throwback to the live videos that made up the first album campaign, the Future Historians were growing at a rapid pace and would never subside as the years trundled on.

The first foray into the animation world for Shikari, the rotoscoped drawing enters psychedelic realms while the enhanced electro-tinged sound rattles out, giving life to the explorative, never stood static, nature of Shikari.

Taking the chorus call of “We don’t belong here!” to heart, the video based around Shikari breaking into a warehouse, balaclava’s and all, continues that trajectory of obvious imagery to their ready-aim-fire approach of all injustices in society.

Once again, more apt imagery, featuring the four struggling through the dirt while being held back by rope, 'Quelle Surprise' roots itself in the bands performance which is more energised than ever.

The full on rave era of Enter Shikari had commenced, and with it an apt video that entwined both facets of the band showing they’ll never be who you think you want them to be. By darting through the bands logo at the time into the small club gig world away from the rave, the symbolism is rife.

Really getting into their political stride here, the next topic to get its moment is the environment, and see’s the band playing an Anchorman-esque news crew, the sense of humour starting to show through, but the message still being the core focus.

The first time factory-based human production is referenced in the Shikari arsenal, bringing to life the idea that the music industry loves to clone and act that does something different with success, but no one can do Shikari like Shikari - just being true to you is all that it takes.

Getting poignant and digging into the idea that anyone can change the world as long as there’s a belief, by stripping themselves back to what could essentially be a band rehearsal in a school hall, the focuses falls to just what they’re saying and the overlapped imagery of protests hammer the point home.

Trying their hand at children’s TV, the bright colours and weird ideas flash forward on what’s to come in latest outing ‘The Dreamers Hotel’, but it’s that Shikari humour that shines through once more in the barrage. In a little bit of trivia, a ‘Paddington Frisk’ is slang for ‘being hung’…

The repetitive nature of 'Radiate' gets accentuated by the words popping on screen, but it’s all the name of hammering home the point that creativity is suppressed - and if that wasn’t enough, the band in cuffs, and censored eyes, only becoming clear during the songs heartfelt ode to keeping on when it can all feel like too much.

Slap bang on the nose with the symbolism of the band trapped in boxes, screaming “they know what’s best for us”, the continuation of that central ethos to the Shikari way of being has been prevalent since day dot.

A song with such war-based merits needed a video to boot and though it’s Enter Shikari doing what they do best, just with the addition of falling ash, wobbly cameras and massive lighting while they thrash, jump and dance. It’s the perfect encapsulation of their energy and just why they’re a band who can weather any storm and still be leading the charge.

Another animation video, this time a full on caricature that see’s the band turning on themselves with all the notice they were getting for being a politically charged band, but instead of taking it to heart, they’re having fun with it and letting the banter shine on through.

Compared to the early days videos, the CGI world created for Torn Apart touches upon the grand ideas Enter Shikari were had been building into. The major aspect being centred upon the notion of being small figures in a much larger machine, but always knowing that hope lies at the heart of it all.

Enter Shikari have never been quiet about their beliefs and what better platform to support the saintly NHS than a video that feels truly symbolic of these days we’re living in. If ever the message in this video were relevant it’s now more than ever.

A continuation of the ‘Slipshod’ video in all its animated glory, it see’s the foursome continue their cartoon escapades running from the class system oppression of the previous video. References to Back To The Future not withstanding, more prominently the lads call back to their homestead of the medieval St Albans with its abbey and the long-rumoured underground passages popping up during the monks running scene (what a sentence, eh?)

Such a euphoric cut requires an equally euphoric video. Using sun-drenched footage of the band entwined with mesmerising images from space, hope streams through every second. As the old industrial world falls apart in the songs crescendo, with Shikari in the wake, the feeling that they know they can only do so much and the future is what matters so feeding that mindset screams through, making it as noble as much as it is sincere belief.

Getting wet ’n’ wild, the nature of Hoodwinker being it’s own standalone single echoes through the vast open sea the lads are in balancing on their politically allegorical, and literal, sinking boat. Further development of the idea that Enter Shikari don’t things by halves.

A return again to the Black Mirror/factory-based metaphor of society, this time, Rou breaking free of the ‘Brave New World’-esque lay of the land echoes the sentiments that Enter Shikari have worn on their sleeves for years.

Rife with nods to Enter Shikari past, and present, the eight-bit video sees Rou’s cat Freya immortalised with the eponymous building, the ‘Common Dreads’ lion, and even the band’s first touring van, an ex-Royal Mail van dubbed the ‘Shikari Ferrari’ makes an appearance.

Shikari’s ode to the copy-paste nature of figures in music is perfectly represented by the 3-D scanning done of each member, but on a more granular level, as a link to the ‘Live Outside’ video and the uniforms worn, each members scan number matches up creating a direct universe.

A throwback to the ‘We Can Breathe In Space’ video? Maybe, but the budget sure increased from tin-foil in helmet days. Though if you look closely, you can tell they aren’t actually on the moon.

The last stop on the tour before the new era begins, it’s hard to believe it’s the same band from the ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ video. The performance aspect, suited and booted, gives the idea of it being a celebration of how far they’ve come, while the lighting flashes and swirls around them. The entwined narrative keeps feeding into the previous video of ‘The Spark’ but beyond that, this is Enter Shikari bringing everything to a conclusion, not to end, but to begin again.

The most recent charge on the new Shikari campaign, and if it’s any indicator of what’s to come it’s all things all at once. An amalgamation of colour, sounds, but the same ideas streaming through. It roots once more into the idea that the band are a glitching wonder of thoughts and sonics and will always be what they want to be. Nothing more, nothing less. Also - it might just be us but is Rob in a yellow t-shirt as a throwback to the ‘Cheerios’ one?!

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