Music Photography

Soundwave 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 22.02.2014: Part 2

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Although I wrote a few notes at the time for Part 1, I didn’t write anything down for the rest of day, Relying on my memory a year later is going to make the remainder of these posts fairly brief.

I’m late getting to Stage 6 for Trash Talk and as I turn my attention to the stage, realise that everyone else if focusing on the singer who’s prowling the photo pit with us. I should have taken more time to set myself up and gone and gotten a flash but stupidly just decide to wing it as I’ve already missed a song or two and didn’t want to lose any more shooting time. The three song limit doesn’t seem to apply and everyone stays around long after that point has been and gone. I didn’t really expect to get anything but manage to save a few photos that aren’t too bad, all things considered.

Pulled Apart By Horse are the discovery of the day. There was something Zeppelin-esque about them, with huge guitar riffs and thundering drums. However, editing photos the following day and listening to them on Spotify, they’re just not the same.

I’d never seen GWAR before but know exactly what to expect. Knowing what was coming I made sure I was well prepared with a cheap $5 waterproof jacket (with a $2 poncho for emergency back- up) and my waterproof camera jacket. Despite all this, my main regret afterwards is that I still erred on the side of caution and distance rather than just getting right in there to photograph. My first port of call after shooting them is the bathroom to clean myself up. Whatever they make that fake blood from, it’s a fairly horrible thing, really sticky and hard to remove.  The stains on my hat are still there a year and countless washes later.  It’s sad to think that only a few weeks after these photos were taken vocalist Oderus Urungus/Dave Brockie died.

I know I saw Panic! At The Disco because I have the photos to prove it but can’t remember anything about the experience.

Filter start late due to technical issues and only manage to fit in four songs before they run out of time. I think the changeover time between acts is only something like 20 minutes which is fairly short given the stage has to be cleared by the previous band before the next band can set up. Do I remember something from AJ saying that he’d get them back again to make up for them only playing such a short set?

I’ve seen Clutch before, when they played the long-forgotten Overcranked back in 2007 or 2008. They’re a lot more enjoyable than I remember and I regret never listening to the promo version of their last album that someone sent me.

Regular readers will know if there’s one thing I hate, it’s musicians (and by that I really mean singers) coming out and performing with a drink in their hand. So Pennywise’s singer annoys me from the very start. I think I might have seen them before, at Reading a long, long time ago. They play that US style of punk that I think I like even less than the UK style of punk.

+++ (Crosses) are next up. A lot of people seem to be really into them (and their album). I enjoy photographing (as always) but it’s fairly pedestrian musically.

Soundwave 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 22.02.2014: Part 1

The Story So Far @ Soundwave 2014, RNA Showgrounds, Saturday 22 February 2014

Soundwave 2015 is less than a month away [at least it was when I first starting drafting this post, showing just how slack I’ve become in recent times] but as no one has asked me I’m guessing that I won’t be photographing it this year.

I’ve photographed the last five festivals – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – for The Vine but since Fairfax sold the site the new owners have looked to turn the site into another one of those sites that copies and pastes the same stories from other news sites and social media in order to create content, while coming up with very little of its own stories. I guess without Fairfax’s backing there’s little money to invest in the site but it’s a shame. There’s been next to no music photography on the site since the takeover: I think the last one might have been Splendour but (as in previous years) that opportunity went to someone from Sydney/Melbourne [of course within a day of starting to draft this they put up some Laneway photos from Sydney and have just put up some Drake photos from his Melbourne show].  I don’t really see the logic because, as I’ve argued here previously, you could write a first-rate review or conduct the most amazing interview and I’m probably only going to read it once. However, I could put up a rubbish gallery (not that I’d really be wanting to) and even if you click through the first couple of photos, I’ve got more page hits than most writers. To be honest, I hate that approach and find it dishonest, which is why when it comes to be own galleries, I make them accessible without having page click through them.

Soundwave is always the most full on of the summer festivals. The size of the site and all those stages means being constantly on the go to cover as much as possible. It’s the festival with the worst morning-after feeling and usually takes a few days to recover, especially if it’s been a hot day, which it usually is. 2014 was another one of those baking hot and sunny days.

Following on from Laneway 2014, Soundwave 2014 was another day of camera issues and my main lens not wanting to focus on anything, just endlessly searching to focus even when lights were good, there was no dry ice and there shouldn’t have been any problems. By the time it got to the pointy end of the day, it was worse than ever and a slight miracle that I came away with anything. I can remember standing in the pit for Green Day (who we got one song for) and it wouldn’t focus on anything but then behaved itself for those few short minutes. A year on and there’s been no change. I really should sort it out as neither of my main lenses are working properly but they both need to go to Sydney and I need to try and find a definitive quiet time in the year for this to happen. Maybe I’ll try for May/June as that’s always the quietest time for shows in Brisbane.

If there’s one thing you can rely on with Soundwave, it’s that no matter how early you get there, they’ll be issues with the media passes which mean you miss some of the bands at the start of the day. 2014 is no different, with names not on the media list and needing to chase up PR people to come and sort out the passes. Late entry sadly means no Amon Amarth and their Viking ship set-up

It’s amazing that Biffy Clyro are on so early, the first band of the day on the main stage, given they headlined Reading/Leeds above NIN in August. Considering how much shit there was from bands unhappy at their allocated playing times that bands were actually dropping out of the festival, it says a lot for them.

I’ve no idea who Mayday Parade are but they sold out a sideshow at The Tivoli so I end up taking the long way around to Stage 5 via Stage 3 and pretty much wish I haven’t as Mayday Parade are another one of those terrible modern metal bands.

After having the mandatory early-in-the-day reconnaissance walk around the site to check out the stages, I take a few photos of Defiler from the crowd but nothing good enough to be worth showing the world before a quick couple of songs of Less Than Jake. Maybe it was just me, but I was finding the lighting really hard to deal with; all backlight causing flaring, no front light to light up the band’s faces.

After checking out The Story So Far (another one of those bands) I head over to Stage 6 and check out The Defiled. They’re interesting to photograph, especially the keyboard player, who throws his keyboard around, and keeps raising it, stand and all, over his head. The downside is that Stage 6 is virtually pitch black and the camera settings are in places that just aren’t conducive to taking good photos. The unholy trinity of high ISO, very low shutter speed and large aperture still not being sensible enough to get a decent exposure under the circumstances of an energetic rock band playing on stage.

Part of me really regrets missing out on Bon Jovi’s Suncorp Stadium show a year or two back. They were just one of those bands from my teenage years and the obligatory teen metal years. I even wrote off my first car while New Jersey was playing in the tape player. Estranged guitarist Richie Sambora is playing in the heat if the early afternoon sun and I only get to see him for a few songs so miss out on anything from the ol’ days which I’m assuming gets saved for nearer the end of his set. Unless he’s doing that thing where you completely ignore your music from a previous life to concentrate on the new songs.

If you were to do that poster thing that recently happened with the Reading/Leeds bill for 2015 for the 2014 version of Soundwave, you’d be in trouble. At the time I did actually go through all the profile pictures on Soundwave’s website and based on those band promo photos think it was something like four female performers on the whole bill, and maybe only one or two female singers. It’s little wonder that metal has the issues it has when it comes to gender balance. Being one of the those very few female singers, I go and check out Nostalghia, who’s a lot better live than she sounded in her Youtube clips. I really had hoped that Babymetal would play Soundwave in 2015 but it didn’t happen. Maybe 2016?

Mutemath seem like an odd choice for Soundwave. Didn’t they play Splendour at some point. The drummer is magnificent, the rest of the band less so.

(Not) Eminem + Kendrick Lamar + J.Cole + Action Bronson + 360 @ Suncorp Stadium, 20.02.2014

Kendrick Lamar @ Suncorp Stadium, Thursday 20 February 2014

The day after the Wire show at the Zoo and it’s a last minute opportunity to photograph the show at Suncorp. It makes me regret turning down the opportunity to photograph Dolly Parton at the BEC on the Friday night because I could have had a four-in-a-row run of Wire, this show, Dolly Parton and Soundwave.

The downside to tonight’s show is that bizarrely we’re not allowed to photograph the headline act.  I’ve been to festivals where we’ve not been allowed to photograph headliners or certain bands during the day but can’t remember ever going to a show where this has been a stipulation for the main attraction.  Eminem has brought his own personal photographer and they’re supplying the official photo to the media.  What’s funny is that the official photo from the Brisbane show that comes out the next day is pretty terrible.

It’s an early start time, needing to be at the venue by 4pm if we want to photograph all the rest of the bill.  The photographers are allowed to sit and watch the bands, so it’s a more pleasant experience than last time I photographed at Suncorp for The Police/Fergie when they made us wait on the pavement outside between acts and kicked us out of the venue after The Police’s first three songs.

It’s not just that so much Australian hip hop is bad, it’s just that so much of it, at least what I hear played, is so far behind the rest of the world.  It’s funny how 360 has turned into some enlightened renaissance man by the end of 2014 considering his songs include lyrics about bitches sucking his dick and he also adds in some between song banter about how crazy the first night of the tour had been with “chicks getting their tits out”.  It just makes you think that it’s 2014 and haven’t we as a civilisation just moved along from all this crap? It’s terrible but depressingly the crowd seem really into it.

Ah, the crowd. It’s easy to feel that I stick out like a sore thumb given I haven’t got a neck tattoo and aren’t wearing a wife-beater and baseball cap combination.  I find out afterwards that the reviewers got the five-star treatment, watching from a corporate box with air con (it’s a ridiculously hot and humid afternoon), free food and as much free alcohol as they want.  Us lowly photographers just get to watch various acts of carnage down near the front of the stage.  A woman gets dragged over the barrier and one point and goes mental at the security, I think one of them might have copped a foot to the face.  After a bunch of them basically sit on her for about five minutes, it looks like it’s all calmed down but as soon as it reaches a point of relaxation she kicks off again and gets unceremoniously dragged out with a security guard on each limb.

Whereas 360 gets the crowd going, you could almost hear a pin drop after each of Action Bronson’s songs.  He’s a big man and way out of shape, probably not helped by the heat of the day.  He has to have a puff on something after every song and at one point is just bent over double getting his breath back.  He starts early than advertised, with only me in the pit although another couple of photographers make it before he finishes off after only about 20 minutes to mute applause.

Back in the crowd I miss a fight that happens but get to see the aftermath as one guy lies motionless on the floor being attended to by medical staff who eventually take him away (still motionless) on a stretcher while a group of police talk to three guys for some time before escorting them away.

If I could remember more, I’m sure I would say more about J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar other than the fact that everything is better when you have a full band backing you, rather than relying on the tinny sounds of decks and samples.

I don’t stay for Eminem, partly because I assume we’re being kicked out, partly because I don’t really want to watch the show from the crowd.  I hear afterwards that I could have stayed and, as even a lowly photographer, I could also have also gotten access to that five star treatment being doled out to the important people.  As I leave, there’s a guy being dragged out by security, his trousers around his ankles as he’s chucked out of the venue.  Some might call it the perfect end to the night.

Wire + Per Purpose + Multiple Man @ The Zoo, 19.02.2014

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One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 was to do more interviews. It wasn’t really because I really wanted to do them and re-invent myself as an interviewer as much as it was that we kept being offered them and no one was ever interested. So potential interviews with the likes of Mudhoney, Future Of The Left (as a couple of examples) just went begging. Once you start turning down things, it’s a short step to not being offered anything.

Interview No.1 was with Adalita and great and I really enjoyed it (apart from the transcribing bit). I had a list of what I thought would be interesting questions but not being used to how quickly 20 minutes goes by, we’d barely gotten into them before it was time to end. Next up was an interview with Wire, with time scheduled with both Colin Newman and Graham Lewis. The line to Colin was terrible from my end and wasn’t helped by the incessant stream of planes overhead on their way to the airport. I think the flight paths must have changed at some point because it didn’t use to be like this. It was hard to hear what he was saying and the guy can definitely talk; I could barely get a word in edgeways but the list of questions didn’t really matter as it was just a really interesting conversation and we went massively overtime, almost double what was scheduled.

It was only when I went to transcribe the first of the two-part interview that I found out that there had either been an upgrade to Android or the app I was using (I can’t remember which) that meant that it didn’t record properly. Whereas the interview with Adalita a couple weeks earlier had recorded both of our voices perfectly, the update meant that instead of the other person’s voice being recorded internally, it had now been captured only through the phone microphone via the sounds coming out of the speaker. So in addition to being a terrible line, with an annoying amount of background noise, it meant that the recording of the other voice was virtually inaudible. I tried various software to bump the signal to a more coherent level in order to try and transcribe it. Although this worked to some degree, there were passages that were still too quiet and which had to be left out.

The Graham Lewis interview a few days later went similarly well. Having gone well over the scheduled time with Colin, it meant that I started with less credit on the phone card I’d been given by the PR people than expected. The line was better for me this but not from Graham’s end in Sweden, where he was getting a lot of noise and interference. As a result of this, he got me to call back a few times which meant that the already small phone card credit further diminished with the initial connection fee. It was another really enjoyable chat but we were less than 8 minutes into it before the pips sounded and the call cut out. I explained what had happened to the PR the following day and asked them to apologise to Graham for the call being cut off so suddenly but not sure if he got it. Sorry Graham. Maybe we can try again next time?

The Zoo’s website lists them as only playing for an hour from 9:40pm to 10:40pm but seeing the 19 song setlist on the stage floor, it’s clear that’s not going to happen unless they’re going back to those sub-two minute songs for almost the whole performance. Having spoken to them about the need to always be moving forward, they’ve really put this into practice with the setlist made up of more new songs than you would generally expect to see at a show, as well as a lot of the band’s current Change Becomes Us album. There’s not that much from Wire’s extensive back catalogue, although ‘Drill’ and ‘Map Ref 41°N 93°W’ and ‘Marooned’ get played. Of the new songs played, the highlight is ‘Harpooned’, the last song of the main set that ends with a one chord wall of sound that lasts for about 10 minutes.

Graham Lewis makes a comment about the crowd being subdued but it’s one of those nights where it’s really hot in The Zoo and everyone is wilting even before the band starts. Wire show no sign of jetlag or suffering with the heat and it’s slightly surprising to see him pulling out all the rock star moves; you can tell that he really loves being on stage. Colin Newman is quieter, doesn’t say much between songs and the banter is left to Graham Lewis.

There is one guy in the crowd going nuts for the whole set, obviously annoying the people at the very front but what do they expect? Everyone else in the room just laughs at this guy being so into it. As had been forecast by the band when I spoke to them, it’s a very mixed crowd and a real spread of ages. It’s also the second gig in a row at The Zoo that someone has busted out a joint and filled the venue with a plume of smoke.

It’s awkward to photograph as Graham Lewis has music stand with his lyrics and Colin Newman has his on an IPad that attached to a mic stand. The clutter makes clear views impossible although Graham Lewis ditches the music stand right after the third song and when I’ve moved away from the front. Robert Grey is another one of those drummers who plays with his eyes shut , always annoying from a photographic point of view, while second guitarist Matt Simms plays way out to the side in the dark. Even with all these obstacles, I’m fairly happy with the photos from the night.

The Steady As She Goes + Occults @ Black Bear Lodge, 13.02.2014

The Steady As She Goes @ Black Bear Lodge, Thursday 13 February 2014

I have the (not very good) photos to prove I was at this show but forgot to log it in my all-singing, all-dancing spreadsheet of gigs I have attended/photographed or write any notes about it.  It was only when I was doing some backing up and syncing of my hard drives that I stumbled across the photos and realised that I probably needed to post them up. But some 9 months after the event and with no notes to go on, there’s nothing to really add.

From memory it was a last minute decision as I’d been working late but had the next day off.  Not sure if there was a third act that opened the night, I’m guessing there probably was.  having just done a quick Google check it turns out there were another couple of acts that night; Kate Jacobson/Ola Karlsson and Ben Salter.  I’m guessing I made a snap decision that I probably already had enough photos of them…  Sorry guys.

Blank Realm + Four Door + Lucy Cliche + Sewers + Thigh Master @ The Underdog, 08.02.2014

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A last minute gig and the excitement of being asked by The Guardian slightly tempered by the thought of a late show. I know that if I were to go back through the This Is Not A Photo Opportunity archives, the most common themes from the last eight years would be lighting, contracts and late shows. I’ve said it more than once, but I don’t want to be out seeing bands that don’t start until after midnight. The annoyance at late shows is always compounded living in Brisbane with its terrible public transport system but either way, watching a band play in the early hours isn’t usually a very enjoyable experience.

It’s a first visit to the Underdog, the revamped Step Inn, The Shamrock as it was called when I first moved to Brisbane. Nothing stays the same for very long in Brisbane. The old band space was a terrible room for seeing bands, and especially photographing them. The renovations have vastly improved the place although it’s a bit of a shame to see the extended old band room being turned into the restaurant part of the pub, with the area that used to host the pokies now hosting the music. It’s not the biggest space, maybe 150 people could squeeze in, although the sound system and lights look to be a vast improvement on what was here before.

Sewers are entertaining, while Four Door take me straight back to 1990-91. Close your eyes and the last 25 years just disappear. Blank Realm are excellent. The band don’t start until about 12:15am and I only stay for about 40 minutes. I miss the chance to get some photos of Bedroom Suck Records’ boss, Joe Alexander, swinging from the lighting rig, which is a shame.

Although I’ve already received a promo download copy of Blank Realm’s new album, I pick up a copy on vinyl on the way out. Grassed Inn should be one of the albums of the year, although by releasing at the start of the year they run the risk of it being forgotten by December. It’s good to see that it’s made the Australian Music Prize long list; given that there’s never been a Queensland winner, and next to no Queensland acts have even made the shortlist over the last decade, could this be Brisbane’s year? The trouble is that the way the AMP is set up, with the majority of judges based in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia’s stupid state parochialism makes anyone from outside of Victoria or New South Wales rank outsiders when it comes to the crunch. By criminally ignoring Queensland all these years, they also run the risk of being accused of tokenism; we’ve never awarded it to anyone from Queensland, let’s make it their year, normal service can be restored next year.

As seems to always the way when you’re photographing for someone new or to a tight deadline, there are issues. Somehow the act of transferring the files from my notebook to an external hard drive, in order to use my all-powerful desktop to do the photo crunching at speed, results in the files completely vanishing. There’re no longer on the notebook’s desktop, but they didn’t make it across to the hard drive either. The only course of action is to go back to the SD card and use a file recovery program to try and find the missing files. After a number of passes through the process, I find that all I can recover are the JPEGs; the RAW files have completely gone. So the JPEGs it has to be.

Luckily The Guardian only wants a couple of photos to choose from. Blank Realm have a singing drummer so I send them one close up photo of a singing drummer knowing that never in a million years will a publication print a photo of a drummer to accompany a live review. The second photo is wider shot of a keyboard player/singer with a bass guitarist in the background. As predicted they go with the second photo.

Laneway 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 31.01.2014: Part 3

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Savages were always a good idea on paper. I liked the image, the manifesto, the album cover photo, I just didn’t think much of the music the couple of times I tried listening to the album.  Everyone told me that I needed to see them live so I quit Haim after a couple of songs and watch almost all of Savages set.  Live, they’re still nothing special.  For the most part it’s a work(wo)man-like performance with no real thrills or much in the way of stand-out moments.  The best song they play for far is the song they end with, a 10+ minute long epic that starts with a drawn out monologue by Jehnny Beth as the intro to the song that sounds far more scripted than it does a spontaneous soliloquy.  Not being overly familiar with their songs, I think it’s called ‘Fuckers’ and appeared on a Record Store Day release earlier this year.  It’s the one truly exciting moment of their set, the only time when it all comes together to a point where you can understand why people said that they were a band that you have to see live.  Even though it might be a perfect 10 minutes and go a long way to making up for what proceeds it, it’s not really enough to justify the hype.  I had high hopes for photographing them but instead they play with only backlighting and so the photos I get are really disappointing.

Lorde’s Pure Heroine was my favourite album of 2013.  It’s a ridiculously assured and confident album and at less than 40 minutes, it never outstays its welcome.  I love her voice, especially when she sings in her lower register and as a big fan of female vocals and harmonies, it was always something I was going to really like.  Despite that, I was apprehensive about how it would work in a live setting; how do you replicate all those vocal tracks?  If you don’t, it’s highly unlikely that the songs would stand up.  In the end she did the obvious approach and used backing tracks, with just another two musicians on stage, one on keyboards, one playing drums.  They’re hidden in the background and in the midst of all the dry ice so they don’t distract from the main focus and at times you can barely even make them out.   From start to finish, you just can’t take your eyes off Ella Yelich-O’Connor, it’s just a complete performance.  Plans to nip off and photograph Jaguar Ma are ditched to spend more time watching Lorde and by the end of the set there’s no doubt as to who the act of the day will be.

One of the great mysteries is why on earth The Jezabels are headlining Laneway.  By headlining I mean playing last on the festival’s largest stage, even though there are still bands playing after them on the other stages.  Whereas both Lorde and Haim packed the Alexandria Street stage, The Jezabels played to about 10% of the crowd that had previously been here only about 30 minutes earlier.  Compared to earlier, when it was a struggle to push through the crowd to the photo pit, it’s now just an easy stroll.  I stick it out for a couple of songs and that’s more than enough.

The Zoo stage area is packed for Danny Brown.  Whereas getting through the crowd into the photo pit for The Jezabels was a breeze, getting into the pit for Danny Brown is a real squeeze that gets worse the closer you get to the stage.  It’s one of those moments, the only one at this year’s Laneway, where you feel uncomfortable in the photo pit, when there’s an air of dread about the whole thing as you consider the structural integrity of the steel barrier and the pressure that’s being exerted on it by the very large crowd.  It’s insanity at the front and I can’t say I miss those days of being crushed at the front of a show that I used to endure in my younger days and before I started photographing.  It can be bad enough when you end up pushed up against the stage at some shows at The Zoo, with only a few hundred people behind you, let alone when you’re pushed against barrier with the weight of thousands to support.  As excellent as Danny Brown is (and I love the photos I get of him tonight), I only stick it out for a couple of songs.  I might have a barrier between me and the audience but I just don’t feel comfortable thinking about what happens if that barrier collapses.

As good as Warpaint are tonight (and they are excellent), it’s disappointing that they play in a mix of no lights and red lights together with a smoke machine; all the things my camera hates.  Thinking about the band in retrospect, they’re one of those acts that seems to only ever play festivals in/near Brisbane and so we never get an opportunity to see them play a full set at a headline show of their own.  I guess we’ll be seeing them again in Brisbane at one festival or another the next time they put out a record in three or four years time.

Laneway ends with a couple of sets on The Zoo stage from Run The Jewels and then Earl Sweatshirt rounding off the day.  By this time of the day fatigue is really setting in and it becomes a case of marking time sitting down until the next act.  It’s always the way at music festivals; by the time you get to the pointy end of the day with the main headliners, you’re too tired to appreciate and enjoy it.  It just becomes part of a countdown until the end of the day when you can get off your feet, get the 10kg camera bag off your shoulders and have something decent to eat and drink.  Both Run The Jewels and Earl Sweatshirt are fun but lack the excitement/sense of dread that came from seeing Danny Brown a couple of hours earlier.

Laneway was an exceptional, easily the best booked festival of the year by a country mile. As can now be seen by a Splendour bill that recycles a fair chunk of this year’s Laneway (with a few BDO acts for good measure) but for about 4x the price.  At something like $120 a ticket, Laneway represents ridiculously good value when the other summer festivals were well over $150 (I think Soundwave/BDO are in the $180 area these days).  I can’t wait until next year.

Laneway 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 31.01.2014: Part 2

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Originally I had no intention of being anywhere near the Alexandria Road stage for Vance Joy but in the end decide that as there’s not much else on, I might as well fill in some time.  He starts off with some song that talks about someone wearing the same old socks to bed and you realise pretty quickly that if you saw him busking on the side of the road, you would just walk on by.  It regularly feels like the aim of most modern musicians is to get a sync deal for an advert, surf video or for FIFA on Playstation /Xbox.  I guess Medibank Private is the real winner in the case of Vance Joy.  Knowing that his debut EP was called God Loves You When You’re Dancing should have set everyone’s alarm bells ringing.

Youth Lagoon are another band I photograph to split up the walk between the Alexandria St and Carpark stages as the timing is right but don’t spend enough time to form much of an opinion.

I actually end up listening to most of Daughter’s set but from the seats in the mini-grandstand located in the VIP section.  It’s always good to have somewhere you can sit down, have a breather and also download some photos at a festival and most of them have really improved in regard to this in the last couple of years.  Earlier on in the day the security on the gate to the VIP section weren’t letting any of the photographers in.  Although we all had the correct wristband, we also had a photographer’s pass stuck on us which was crossed out on the list of approved passes to be able to get entry to the area.  It then became a very convoluted exercise in having to remove the sticky photographer pass and put away any sign of camera gear before security would let us in.  Security knew we were all photographers but so long as we didn’t have a visible photo pass or any obvious camera gear about our bodies, we were free to enter.  Festival jobsworths at the very top of their game.  Daughter are nothing special, one of those pseudo folk bands that have cluttered up the music scene in the last few years.

Collapse Board were offered an interview with Chvrches before Christmas that I had to cancel as the writer who requested it wasn’t sure if they could do the time slot we were given.  I really regretted cancelling it and if I’d had a bit more notice I would have done it myself.  I just didn’t think I had enough time to do enough research and prepare some considered questions to do a good job and make it worthwhile for the band.  In retrospect I really wish I had done it, even if it meant struggling through it the best that I could as it was a good opportunity and I hate turning those down.

Laneway is pretty good for not having many clashes but there’s a period in the late afternoon when there’s only fifteen minutes between bands playing on the three main stages and unfortunately Chvrches are time-tabled in this period, so there’s barely enough time to photograph them for the three songs before it’s time to move off. I would have liked to have seen more but I’ll have to wait until next time and hope that they’re not playing a festival where they’re scheduled against other bands I want to see.

Kirin J Callinan might still owe me a copy of his album on vinyl [at least he did at Laneway and at the time of writing, he’s since sorted out for me] that I pre-ordered and paid for the last time I saw him in Brisbane, but I still want to go and see him play, if only for a few songs.

I’ve seen Kurt Vile a couple of times before.  The first time was a packed and infuriating show at Woodland that I was photographing where he played in the dark and I ended up being on the wrong of him, so all I got was a view of his hair.  The second time was a show in London at the Kentish Town Forum about 15 months ago that was nothing special, partly thanks to the sound in the venue and partly because he’s just not that engaging a live performer.  One really enjoyable thing about the Forum show, and the Mark Lanegan gig at the same venue in the same week, was that both of them cost less than the equivalent of $30 a ticket; last time Lanegan played in Brisbane I think it was more than $75 all-in.  The latest Kurt Vile album was a bit of a grower, it took some time to get over the change in sound from simpler, largely acoustic base of Smoke Ring For My Halo to the fuller sound and saxophones of Wakin on a Pretty Daze.  As he’s playing a standard festival mid-afternoon 45 minute timeslot, it’s a surprise, albeit a very pleasant one, when he includes the two longest songs from Wakin on a Pretty Daze in his set, the 9:31 minute ‘Wakin on a Pretty Day’ and the 10:26 minutes of ‘Goldtone’.  It’s almost half the set gone in two songs, with the majority of the rest of his time also being cuts from his most recent album.  I stay to watch as much of his set as I can before I need to move to go and photograph Haim.

Everyone loves Haim and I just can’t understand how a band that sounds like a cross between Shania Twain and Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine has managed to become so critically acclaimed.

I’ve also never been able to fathom the Fleetwood Mac comparisons, although the band through in a cover of ‘Oh Well’ as their second song, a much earlier song from the Peter Green-era of the band rather than the slick 80s version that all the comparisons highlight.  I’d say it’s another case in this copy/paste age of one writer including the comparison and others following suite.  Eventually if enough people state something, it becomes a fact, a bit like that recent story about how Iggy Azalea has matched the Beatles record in having their first two releases go to Number 1 and Number 2 in the US singles chart.

Photographing the band is another case of not knowing quite where to look given that two of the band are wearing short shorts, the other a short dress, and being in the photo pit means a very uncomfortable view.  I also get to experience the whole ‘Bass Face’ thing, which is all a bit ridiculous as it’s not like this hasn’t been a thing in rock/metal for at least the last 40 or so years.  It’s as if people are amazed that not only can a woman play a bass guitar but she can multi-task to the extent of making stupid faces at the same time.