Music Photography

I Used To Skate Once 10 @ The Zoo, 26.06.2014

I Used to Skate Once 10 @ The Zoo, Thursday 27 June 2014

An ever-present in my social diary as soon as they announce the dates. Looking forward to this year’s show although not sure how much the change from a Thursday night to a Friday night will change it. I liked it best when The Zoo opened at 5:30pm and I could saunter over straight from work rather than hang around for a few hours for door to open.  It’s always tempting to buy some art at the show but you have to get it there pretty early to get the best stuff.

Sonic Masala Festival @ Greenslopes Bowls Club, 21.06.2014

Scul Hazzards @ Sonic Masala Fest 2014, Greenslopes Bowls Club, Saturday 21 June 2014

Even though it’s less than six months outside the Australian summer music festival season, today shows just how out of practice I am, at least from a physical sense of coping with an all day event, as those comfy couches dotted around Greenslopes Bowls Club provide a safe haven for most of the day when I’m not up the front photographing the bands.

It’s a day with the two stages providing constant music and a host of excellent bands and performances. That it was a bargain $10 for the day makes it the best value festival I think I’ve ever been to. Even after this time I find it slightly weird that in a city the size of Brisbane, the music scene is still based largely on the same 50 people that I see at most of the local shows I go to and hasn’t changed in the 9 years I’ve been living in Brisbane.

If there’s a single highlight of the afternoon session, it’s Bossfight, a band that play the music and theme tunes to games. Some of the playing is ridiculous.

Scul Hazzards headline the day and show that they’re still one of Brisbane’s best bands, that they don’t play often enough, and that, having moved to Melbourne, they don’t play often enough in Brisbane. Hearing Steven Smith say that the albums at the merch desk are the last few copies and that they’ve been working on their latest album for seven years adds a twinge of sadness. Bands this good shouldn’t be allowed to fade away.

DZ Deathrays + Palms + Foam @ The Zoo, 09.05.2014

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At a guess I’d say that the members of Foam have a few albums between them, at least two of which are by Nirvana.

It’s the second time I’ve seen Palms recently and they get a generous 45 minute for a supporting band. Tonight’s show is a few days after my 10th anniversary of living in Australia and when I first moved to Sydney, Red Riders were one of those bands that were everywhere. Maybe it’s just looking at the personnel in the band but I keep considering whether the music the band play is that much different to what Alex Griggs and Tom Wallace played in their old band and trying to rationalise whether the sound never went out of fashion or whether, thanks to a decade-long cycle, is back in vogue.

If tonight results in any conclusions being reached, it’s that I miss those days when you could photograph DZ Deathrays without the need for a photo pit. Those days are long gone and trying to photograph them tonight is a bit of a write-off. Thanks to their love of serious and over-zealous strobe lighting, it always used to be fun to photograph them to make use of all that strobing but now they’ve hit the big time they’ve upgraded to fancy LED lighting rigs and smoke machines: every photographer’s worst nightmare combo. Bearing the weight of the crowd and being crushed against the stage is no fun, but not being able to get anything much in the way of usable photos makes the experience a whole lot more frustrating. I’m sure I’ll be back photographing the band at some stage in the future but it’s going to be at a venue where I’ve at least got the luxury of a photo pit to comfortably stroll up and down in.

Cults + The Furrs @ The Zoo, 06.05.2014

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First published on Collapse Board

Back in Collapse Board’s glory days of 2011 we ran 10 reviews of Cult’s debut album. It didn’t go down very well with a number of people and I can remember one nameless Brisbane-based street press music writer (nameless more because I can’t actually remember who actually said, rather than to protect their good name and reputation) ranting about it on a private music forum. The basis of their rage was that running 10 reviews of the same album wasn’t big or clever, just stupid.

I don’t think the aim of running 10 reviews of the same album was ever meant to be ‘big or clever’. It was just supposed to be a bit of fun when faced with a much-hyped new band. If any lessons were learnt (and we can’t be a respected music website unless we start filling our posts with 5 Things We Learnt listicles),it showed that there were different ways that you could put together an album review.

Some of the 10 reviewers liked it, some didn’t. Perhaps the important lesson from running 10 reviews of the same album is that it highlighted that people have differing tastes and that despite the now instantaneous availability of music, tastemakers can still play an important role. (Although I had great intentions of adding to the multitude of Collapse Board Cults reviews, I didn’t get around to putting anything together in time. My plan was to write something about the album cover, which, on first impressions, I loved a lot more than the album itself; it had a Jean-Baptiste Mondino feel about it).

When it came to Cults’ second album, Static, we only published two reviews. Funny how fortunes change in only a couple of years.

Cult’s show at The Zoo marks their second visit to Brisbane and their first full headlining show after their appearance at 2012’s Laneway Festival. Not accounting for taste, it’s a Black Tuesday of gigs in Brisbane, with big-name competition coming in the form of The Jezabels at The Tivoli and the Hottest-100-topping Vance Joy playing The Hi-Fi. Until she cancelled due to illness, Lorde was also scheduled to play Brisbane, at the much larger 9,000 capacity Riverstage.

Despite all this competition, there’s a healthy crowd in The Zoo by the time Cults open with ‘High Road’, a fairly low key song and surprising choice of set opener and it takes until the second song of the set, ‘Abducted’ before the band hit their stride and the audience warms up to the band.

Although Collapse Board’s Scott Creney declared “Static as in staying in one place. Static as in unable to move. Static as in poor reception”, the songs from the second album do show a progression to a darker, grittier sound while still maintaining the band’s 60’s girl band and pop influences. Songs from the two albums combine effortlessly over the course of the 70 minutes that the band are on stage and there’s not even the slightest hint of a mid-set lull.

Outside of singing, Madeline Follin is largely silent between the songs and it’s left to guitarist Brian Oblivion to provide the somewhat awkward banter. Early on he tells the audience that Australia is his second favourite country after home. Later on he tells the crowd that he thinks that this is the best show of the tour so far and that the band are really having fun. Everyone cheers, even though they’re more than sure that he’ll be telling a different crowd in a different town on a different night exactly the same thing.

Static maybe the ‘break-up’ album but there’s no sign of tension between singer Madeline Follin and guitarist Brian Oblivion. In fact, despite Follin’s quietness, she constantly beams at the end of songs, not at the crowd but to her left and her right at her onstage bandmates. Despite the clichéd banter, maybe they really are enjoying themselves in Brisbane. That singing these songs means to much to Follin is evident as she maintains a seriously furrowed brow throughout each song. It’s clearest on ‘You Know What I Mean’, a song that she’s on record as saying is her favourite. The effort showing on her face as she shows how much the song means to her, accompanied by subtle yet frantic gestures to the onstage sound desk to perfect the mix and not leave her disappointed.

The band throw in a cover of The Motel’s ‘Total Control’, a song they covered for a Record Store Day release earlier this year, and Cults-ified so that it feels like a natural addition, before ‘Rave On’ closes the main set on a high. The band come back for an encore of ‘Keep Your Head Up’ and ‘Go Outside’ before Follin makes her loudest noise of the night with a final screamed “THANK YOU” before leaving the stage. The setlist taped to the stage included a three song encore, ending with ‘Oh My God’, but once the band leave the stage, the crowd begins to disperse and the lights come on along with music over the PA system. Did they change the setlist and play one of their biggest songs earlier, I just can’t recall. Or did they commit a bit of a faux pas in trying to get in a second encore that the crowd wasn’t expecting. Perhaps modern day crowds are far too fickle.

When Cults played at Laneway in 2012 they were surprisingly good, despite having to battle the sound issues associated with playing in corrugated iron cattle shed (no, really). It seems an unfair and nonchalant verdict, as if it should be a surprise that a (then) current buzz band should actually turn out to be able to pull off a good live show. With the advantage of playing a more suitable venue, Cults really shine tonight, whether they played ‘Oh My God’ or not, and comfortably prove that not only were they worthy of all that industry hype back in 2011, but that they continue to be a band that’s worthy of attention.

Velociraptor + The Good Sports + The Maryettas @ Black Bear Lodge, 24.04.2014

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First published on Collapse Board

The first rule of writing about Velociraptor is that you have reference how many people play in Velociraptor. The second rule of writing about Velocirpator is that when it comes to live reviews you have to mention what ‘mode’ Velociraptor are playing in for that particular show (i.e. how many of them are in the country and were available to turn up on the night). While the band has operated with 12 members for years (rendering the first rule obsolete), recent times have seen the available numbers depleted thanks to the lure of overseas adventures and members just going AWOL (at least according to their recent press release). With Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley often unavailable due to their commitments with their other band, DZ Deathrays (currently touring the UK), Velociraptor suddenly found themselves in a precarious position where they might have just looked like any other band on a stage. The only thing for Velociraptor to do was to recruit a couple more people to swell the ranks and bring their numbers back to something approaching normality, at least for them.

Although word counts are often squandered for no good reason thanks to those two rules on writing about Velociraptor, there’s rarely any challenge as to what a 12 piece garage band actually achieves and for a long time it’s been their greatest weakness. Any band that can put eight guitarists on stage should sound massive, except they never do, usually everyone their amps turned down real low, so low that at least half of them might as well just be miming. For a long time there’s also been the question of when charming ramshackleness crosses the line into general sloppiness. Instead of getting better there was a period when every time I saw the band they seemed to have regressed and taken a step backwards.

But tonight is different and shows the band at their very best. I don’t think in all the times I’ve seen Velocirpator, ever since that first time when they played downstairs at the Waiting Room all the way back at the start of 2010, that they’ve been this thrilling. The recruitment of George Browning (Teen Sensations/Sulphur Lights) and Yuri Johnston (Keep On Dancin’s) proves to be a complete masterstroke as the change in drummer and bassist has added an instant rock solid foundation for the rest of the band to play on top of. There’s no doubt that the band are completely reinvigorated by the changes in personnel. There’s still no sign of keyboards anywhere in the mix but the guitars and the vocal army, Julien James, Rohan Dodd and the back-from-Europe, Joshua Byrd gathered around one microphone, the rest of the band set up similarly on the other side of the stage, sound more powerful than they’ve ever been.

Kicking off with ‘Riot’, Jeremey Neale’s assertion that “I heard you joke it was a riot and everyone was on the floor” is prophetic as the band are greeted with an instant mosh that lasts for the whole duration of the set. The front rows crammed against the stage are sent sprawling and it’s not long before a continual procession of crowd surfers take their positions above the crowd. The floor bounces to a level that’s totally disconcerting and makes you seriously consider the structural integrity of the building. Given Black Bear Lodge is more accustomed to quiet acoustic nights, it’s probably been a while since the venue was put through this sort of punishment. When was the last time Violent Soho or DZ Deathrays played here?

The band fire off pop gem after pop gem in relentless fashion. ‘Riot’ is followed by ‘Suzanne’, ‘Oh Yeah’ and Sleep With The Fishes’, some of the oldest songs in Velocirpator’s repertoire but there’s a freshness and an immediacy about the songs, they sound more urgent than ever. Velocirpator have always been a party band but tonight they become the party band. World Warrior EP songs ‘Mystery Man’, ‘Jnr Astronauts’, ‘Scientists’ and ‘Cynthia’ bring the setlist more up to date before new song and the single that they’re launching tonight, ‘Ramona’ ends the night. On first listen the Arctic Monkeys aping ‘Ramona’ disappointed although unlike everything else the band has written, it turned out to be a ‘a grower’. Played live it loses the shackles of the stilted studio version and becomes another infectious hit for Velociraptor’s ever increasing canon.

Those gigs that you stagger out of, weak-kneed, ­­sweat-drenched, ears-ringing, gasping for the fresh air of the cool night? Well, they’re the best gigs, aren’t they?

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 26.02.2014

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Wednesday 26 February 2014

If not for a 10 day sojourn to the UK in August, this would have been the Gig Of The Year.

I also saw the last Springsteen show at the BEC in March 2013, less than 12 months ago, and as good as that was, this was another level. For the 2013 tour I didn’t try to get a photo pass as I knew it was a sound desk shoot. Seeing the photographers in the venue last year, the positions they were given to photograph from were at the first set of steps from the stage leading up to the first level on each side of the venue, a distance from the stage but nothing like the usual BEC sound desk experience. It was nowhere as far from the stage as the last time I was at the BEC for Nikki Minaj, when it was behind the sound desk and so far away from the stage that the back of the floor area was less than 2m behind where we were stood. Finding this out was a regret but thanks to a quickly returning tour, one that I could try and rectify fairly quickly. A lot of luck was involved in getting a photo pass for the show and it was thanks to a fellow photographer who wasn’t able to shoot on the night of the show and very kindly offered to give them my name instead.

The Boss was a long-time coming for me, and I think the blame lies purely with Born In The USA era Springsteen. There’s an adage that pop music peaks for everyone between the ages of 12 and 13, which should have put those songs in prime position considering that for me those times were 1984/85. But even as a child of the 80s, there was something wrong with the double denim and the headbands that I could never get through. Along the way there were a few songs that I liked (e.g. I’m On Fire) but there was always something naff about ‘Dancing In The Dark’ and something too macho and gung ho about stuff like ‘Born In The USA’. In 1984/85 when you’ve got all these brilliant, bright and shiny pop stars in the charts, Springsteen was never going to cut it.

It actually took decades for Springsteen to make his mark and ever since I’ve been pondering how on earth it managed to take that long. The difference was coming to Australia and driving around Australia. When I was on my one year Working Holiday visa and living in Newtown, I ended up buying a 3 CD set of the Essential Bruce Springsteen; the first CD covered 1973 (Greetings From Asbury Park) to 1982 (Nebraska), the second CD from 1984 (Born In The USA) to 2002 (The Rising) and third CD of rarities and unreleased tracks. I don’t know the exact reason for buying it but I’m guessing price played a big part. For the whole time I’ve lived here, buying music in Australia outside of places like Dirt Cheap CDs (RIP) has always been a ridiculously expensive past time and a 3 CD collection for $10 would have no doubt appealed to my limited funds and another attempt to try to understand what the big deal was.

Normally the way it works is that the longer you spend listening to an album, the more it grows on you. Although I have a number of Springsteen albums on vinyl, bought during those times when vinyl was heading towards complete obsolescence and you could pick up albums for a pound or two, they never bridged the gap between a cheap listen and an essential album for the long-term. Much of this was probably due to just how many albums I would buy at various markets, second hand record stores and charity shops during those times and buying way more than I could ever hope to properly take in. Two things made the difference this time around: the first was the paucity of music that I had to listen to in that working holiday visa year in Sydney. The other reason, the far more critical was that I drove around a fair chunk of Australia with that 3 CD collection forming a large part of a limited soundtrack. Driving across the Nullarbor and back, the big open spaces of Western Australia, the endless open road, heading into the sunset on the long drive to the west, scrubland as far as the eye could see, truck stops for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all those one horse towns dotted all over Australia, it was the perfect soundtrack. Context is everything and so many of the songs on those CDs, made far more sense driving across the desert than they ever did listening to them in my bedrooms in Devon or in London. Blue collar workers down on their luck, the longing for escape to a better life, the darkness on the edge of town; those themes don’t translate as well to a small, urbanised country like the UK as they do to countries like a hot, dry, dusty Australia where you can drive hundreds of miles without seeing another car, let alone anything like a building, and where you’re haunted by the stench of rotting road kill in the midday sun. Despite coming to that conclusion, the one memory from that drive was how on earth it had taken that long for me to finally ‘get’ Springsteen. From that time I’ve been totally hooked, some might say obsessed.

I like to think that my bucket list of people I want to photograph isn’t too extravagant and I’ve been lucky to photograph most of the acts I’ve really wanted to. The only ones I can think I’ve missed out on have been U2 and The Who. Given that my music photography ‘career’ is slowly winding down, I don’t think that rectifying the omissions is going to happen. Standing on the stairs with camera bag and my tour photo pass stuck to my front, waiting for the show to start, is a thrilling moment. I think the last time I was this excited at getting to photograph someone might have been Iron Maiden when they played Soundwave. The stairs aren’t as far from the stage as the sound desk but it’s still quite a long way, it’s such a shame that there’s no pit access but there never is for any of his shows these days and most of them are from the sound desks.

There’s always going to be an issue, one way or the other, and when the show starts, with a very unexpected cover of the Bee Gee’s ‘Staying Alive’ it’s in near darkness, with a bit of back lighting putting everyone on the stage into silhouette. When things like this happen there’s always that worry that it’ll kill one of the three songs that you get to photograph for. Luckily, the lights do all come on for the chorus.

It’s a massive stage with a massive band, with both a horn and a string section. The trouble with photographing from so far away is that you can’t change the angles, so all the photos are from the same viewpoint, and that it’s hard to isolate people into the individual portrait style I prefer. Lots of people on stage equates to lots of equipment and this brings its own problems with respect to having an unobstructed view. I don’t end up with many photos of Tom Morello, Nils Lofgren or Soozie Tyrell, as they’re almost permanently behind microphone stands from the angle we’re shooting from, and there’s no photos of Roy Bittan as he was just too far away in the background.

I shouldn’t have worried about losing shoot time to poor lighting at the start; three Springsteen songs is plenty. Although I regret it a bit I swap between digital and film to make the most of the opportunity. The film photos are nothing special, I didn’t get the exposure right as trying to spot meter from 30m and everything is slightly overexposed.

The show lasts for 3¾ hours. No support, no intermission. The band is incredible. I think for the Australian leg of this tour they included over 120 different songs in the sets, which is just amazing when you compare it to most bands who’ll play the same songs in the same order night-after-night, maybe with a handful of back-up songs that they might slip into to the set now-and-then. During this Australian tour they’ve played a number of different albums at the shows. None of this ‘Don’t Look Back’ playing of the one classic album night-after-night for a whole world tour; a different album for a different night with Born In The USA and Born To Run on consecutive nights in Melbourne and Darkness on the Edge of Town in Sydney only a few days later.

The big surprise for tonight’s show is the playing of The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, his second album, in full and for the first time ever (I think). I was really holding out for Darkness On The Edge Of Town, especially as we didn’t get enough of its songs at last year’s show. I’m to be disappointed once again though, with only ‘Badlands’ getting played this time. The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle would have been towards the bottom of my preferred list. I think I struggle with it because it’s got a dated early 70’s sound that’s somewhere between Van Morrison and the songs in those Charlie Brown cartoons from around the same time. It’s nowhere near one of his better albums, although it does have some classic, killer songs on it (‘Rosalita’, ‘New York City Serenade’ that would improve any setlist he could come up with.

What makes this show even better than last year’s isn’t that the band plays for 3¾ hours, impresses everyone by playing a completely set of songs from last time and from other shows on this tour, includes all of one album for the first time and includes a whole bunch of sign request songs but that Steven Van Zandt is back in the fold for these shows. Away on filming duties for Lillyhammer last time around, he provides the perfect foil for Springsteen, who is so much more playful and relaxed than I remember from last year. As good as Tom Morello was for the 2013 tour, it doesn’t make up for the 40 years of camaraderie between the two that’s so evident tonight. Although Miami Steve gets a special mention, the rest of the band is incredible, Springsteen belying his 64 years with an energy and enthusiasm that you’d wouldn’t even expect from someone 40 years younger, and drummer Max Weinberg holding it all together from the back for the full 3¾ hours.

A truly magical show, a performance from a band at their very best, one that I’m glad I saw and one that I’m really delighted to have the opportunity to photograph.

Bruce Springsteen Setlist Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Australia 2014, High Hopes Tour

 

Nine

2011 Photo Passes and Tickets
Another year has zipped by and today’s the ninth anniversary of the site.

The backlog has increased and I’ve recently found myself over a year behind, despite photographing less and less.  I think that’s half the problem; when I was photographing much more it helped make sure I kept on top of things.  I would photograph much more than I do but no one seems interested in reviewing.  I miss those days of photographing several times a week.  I try to avoid doubling up as much as I can as I’m not a great reviewer and definitely not a fast reviewer/writer.  I’m the king of unfinished posts that take so long as to be unusable as the moment has long since passed.

The other reason for the decline in posting is that in recent years I became a habitual writer, managing to crank out 400-500 words every morning on the train to work, but thanks to the cost I don’t use public transport as much as I did, maybe only once or twice a week. It’s not enough to keep on top of it all.

I’m now up to 562 posts (this one being 563), a measly 18 posts during the year compared to 50 last year and 45 the year before and a long way off 2012’s record productive year of 88 posts. I didn’t get around to doing a ‘Best of 2014′ at the start of the year but, then again, I still haven’t gotten around to doing a ‘Best of 2013′ yet either.  The photos are all up to date (with the exception of this weekend’s from the Babaganouj show at The Brightside and a photo of last year’s tickets and passes, hence the 2012 version) and a lot of the 2014 posts have been fully drafted so it’s a case of putting together a few of the outstanding ones to get back on target.  The next job is trying to put into words just how good the 3 ¾ hour Bruce Springsteen show was last February.

This August also marks the 10th anniversary of moving to Brisbane.  I really should do something official to mark the occasion, although I don’t know what or whether I’ll end up having the time to do anything.

For interest, the most popular posts of the last 12 months are below.  That’s two years in a row that Brian Setzer has topped the list.

  1. Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot @ The Tivoli, 28.03.2012
  2. Soundwave 2012 @ RNA Showgrounds, 25.02.2012, Part 1
  3. Queens Of The Stone Age – The True Meaning of Era Vulgaris
  4. Flavours Of Scuzz @ Woodland, 09.07.2011
  5. Parklife 2011 @ The Riverstage, 01.10.2011
  6. Soundwave 2010 @ RNA Showgrounds, 20.02.2010: Part 1
  7. Laneway 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, 01.02.2013: Part 1
  8. Good Vibrations @ Gold Coast Parklands, 19.02.2011: Part 1
  9. Soundwave 2012 @ RNA Showgrounds, 25.02.2012: Part 3
  10. Steely Dan + Steve Winwood @ Sirromet Wines, Mt Cotton, 23.10.2011
  11. Mark Lanegan Band @ The Tivoli, 21.04.2012
  12. Soundwave 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, 23.02.2013: Part 3
  13. Jesus Jones + The Wonder Stuff + Clouds @ The Tivoli, 18.08.2011
  14. Everett True vs The Australian Music Press
  15. Big Day Out 2014 @ Metricon Stadium, 19.01.2014: Part 3
  16. Future Music Festival 2012 @ Doomben Racecourse, 03.03.2012: Part 1
  17. Soundwave 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, 23.02.2013: Part 2
  18. Laneway 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 31.01.2014: On Film
  19. The Steady As She Goes + Occults @ Black Bear Lodge, 13.02.2014
  20. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 26.02.2014: On Film


Soundwave 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 22.02.2014: Part 3

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By the time the mid to late metal scene was around, I’d long moved on. Although I wasn’t really interested, It was only the fact that I’d never seen Korn that made me go along to photograph them. Just another one for the list and another band photographed for the day. Musically I still don’t understand these sorts of bands, I guess I was just too old at the time.

If there is one band I’m looking forward to seeing, it’s the reformed Rocket From The Crypt. I stay and watch most of their set and it’s fun. Sadly they play in front of a criminally small crowd, probably the smallest of the day, at least the smallest for this tent stage. You could easily fit everyone in The Zoo with room to spare, which just isn’t right, especially with Korn playing to the masses less than 100m away.

Green Day are this year’s main stage headliners and have been allocated a massive timeslot. I guess they’ve had the mainstream appeal to warrant their top of the bill placing but again, it’s 90s rock that had passed me by at the time they were first starting out. There’s a rumour that we’ve only got one song although no one official has actually told me this. It wasn’t announced at the start of the day when we picked up our photo passes, which is normally when you find these things out. Waiting in the pit for them to start, my camera is refusing to play ball, my 70-200 main lens refusing to focus on anything, even if it’s brightly lit and shouldn’t be a problem. Come showtime, it decides to work, not perfectly but enough to get a few photos. I think every photographer gets the Billy Joe Armstrong jump shot from one angle or another, the annoying thing being from where I’m stood in the pit, I also get a healthy dose of microphone stand across the middle. Come the end of the song, PR confirm that it’s only the first song, and we all shuffle along and out of the photo pit. With the band playing for over two hours, you get to hear them in the distance whenever you’re walking between stages but it doesn’t sound very inspiring.

By comparison, Rob Zombie is a lot of fun to photograph, even if there’s some horrible red lighting that makes my camera unhappy. Musically it’s all fairly terrible sounding but at least there’s something of the old school rock star about him and his band that makes it visually interesting, something that’s at least as important when you’re tasked with photographing all these acts.

I only get to see the last song from Glassjaw while sat down waiting in the photo pit for The Dilinger Escape Plan so take a few cheeky photos.

This is the second time I’ve photographed Dillinger Escape Plan and the lesson I learn is that they’re infuriating to photograph.

When they played at Soundwave back in 2012 they played the tiny Stage 7 and within seconds of seconds of them starting to play, singer Greg Puciato had launched himself into the unlit surrounds of the photo pit and then away into the midst of the crowd. Being completely unprepared and with time being against be with the three song rule, it meant having to commit that ultimate of photographer crimes and use the pop up flash. I got a few ok shots from the experience but nothing as good as I would have liked and nothing that did a service to just how good the band were playing live.

This time around I make sure I’m ready with my flash in place, except this time there’s no rush for the crowd. The band play the much larger, much higher up the rank Stage 5 with a proper stage and proper lights, except everything is strobing and there’s a tonne of dry ice to contend with. All of this coupled with a camera that is playing up and hates strobing lights and dry ice at the best of times makes it three songs of hit and hope, with the camera’s auto focus continuing to search back and forth to find something to lock onto. In the end I take far too many photos; I think the three song rule went by long before any of the photographers started moving away. As in 2012, I end up with a few ok shots, but nothing to write home about. As is nearly always the case, I look at photos from the Soundwaves around the country from places far further south and with daylight savings and am always a bit jealous as they get the same bands playing on outdoor stages in daylight that Brisbane gets playing long after the sun has gone down or playing in dark tents. I’m living in hope that one day I’ll get to photograph The Dilinger Escape Plan under good lighting conditions and with a properly working camera.

It’s another long hike across the festival site from Stage 5, past the neverending Green Day, and all the way to Stage 4 for Mastodon. The trouble with the pointy end of any festival is that all the headline acts always start at almost exactly the same time as each other. Stage 4  is running late, they didn’t claw back any of the lost time that they incurred much earlier in the day when GWAR were really late starting, which means that despite the long walk, there’s only time for one song in the photo pit before the needing to make one last port of call for the day. It’s a shame as I really like that last Mastodon album and there’s a whole host of bands that I see play festivals towards the top of the bill, Mastodon among them, that I only ever get to see for a few songs at most and who always only play festivals in Brisbane rather than their own headline shows in the city.

The last band of the day are Living Colour. I manage to go to the wrong stage, not checking my schedule and thinking they were on Stage 6, so by the time I get to Stage 7, they’ve already started. I know someone has to play in that spot, but it seems wrong that they’re playing the smallest stage at the festival, but it’s reassuring that there’s a really big crowd there to see them. I was quite into Living Colour back in the day, at least for those first couple of albums. Saw them at a show they played at The Mayfair in Newcastle (the ticket stub is pinned up with all my other tickets in my bedroom back home; from memory I think it was £8) and went to an instore signing the day of the show to get my copy of Vivid signed. Having not seen them in over 20 years, it’s strange seeing stylish guys with crazy haircuts in the late 80s/early 90s as middle-aged men with sensible haircuts in 2014. Still sounding great though and I stay for most of their set before deciding that it’s time to go and start processing photos. Soundwave 2014 was another scorcher of a day and, as ever, it’s really taken its toll on me.

So after five years of photographing Soundwave, the run ground to a sudden halt in 2015, which was a real shame. I did try and contact Soundwave’s media people fairly early on last year to try and get them to add Collapse Board to their mailing list but never heard anything from them. No doubt I’ll try again sometime soon as it was disappointing to miss out and then find plenty of places being given accreditation for the Brisbane leg that look to have much lower readership (based on some of the generic web stats sites) than we have. There were definitely a few acts that I would have loved to have tried to get interviews with and of course I would have loved to have photographed the festival again.

The 2015 version was split over two days, with less stages and longer set times, so it looked like it wouldn’t have been as much of all-day marathon as it normally is, even with having to turn up for that second day. I think for 2016 they’ve already said that it’ll be back to a one day event. Here’s to hoping for a swift return to photographing Soundwave in 2016.