Music Photography

Big Day Out 2014 @ Metricon Stadium, 19.01.2014: Part 3

Pearl Jam @ Big Day Out 2014, Metricon Stadium, Sunday 19 January 2014

Arcade Fire are another band I’ve just never really understood.  I’ve said it before but there’s just something about them that really reminds me of The Waterboys so I’ve always struggled to comprehend how they’ve managed to become so feted. Tonight they play a first song with additional musicians before going down an 8 or 9 piece for the next few songs but at no point does it sound like there’s that many musicians playing. Although (surely) the whole MO of Arcade Fire is this “big” sound, it might as well be half the number of people as are on stage.  It’s all a bit try hard to impress.

With no Pearl Jam to photograph, there’s a big gap in the schedule until the next acts on the Red and JBL Essential stages.  I didn’t make it to the Boiler Room at all this year, whereas in previous years I’ve spent plenty of time in there.  The difference is that in previous years there was always plenty of interesting live acts whereas this year the organisers have just gone for dull-to-photograph but so much cheaper option of a bunch of laptop DJs.

Annoyingly both Ghost BC and Snoop Dogg are scheduled to start at the same time, 9pm.  On the plus side, the two tents are next to each other and so my plan of attack has me starting with Ghost for a song before moving over to Snoop for a song.  I decide on Ghost BC first based on the assumption that no hip hop gig ever starts on time.  Ghost BC doesn’t help the cause by playing an instrumental to start with before Papa Emeritus II comes out onto stage which makes it the best part of two songs before the run over to the Red stage where Snoop has already started.   The pit is packed and as a latecomer I’m way out to the side, unsure of how many songs have been played and not really wanting to push through the crowd to photograph from different angles.  All the photos are taken from roughly the same spot, which in hindsight is a shame.  It just felt like a rushed job to get a few quick shots in the time I had available although I do manage to take a few non-digital shots to finish up the roll of Tri-X in my film camera.

Although still really disappointed at not being allowed to photograph the festival’s headline act, I go and spent about 40 minutes watching Pearl Jam and take a few photos from way back in the crowd, outside the D-barrier.  I first saw Pearl Jam towards the start of 1992 in a small 500 person venue in Newcastle and it still remains one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen.  It was pre-Ten although ‘Alive’ had been released and made it to something like Number 29 with a bullet in the Top 40.  The show cost 4 pounds (50p more expensive than Smashing Pumpkins who I think also played that month in the same venue) and was sold out.  Despite only knowing one song, everything they played sounded like a classic and when Ten did eventually come out, I could recognise songs like ‘Black’ and ‘Jeremy’ from when the band had played them.  The one visual takeaway from the night was Eddie Vedder using the square lighting rig above the ‘dancefloor’ as monkey bars and making his way around the front of the crowd (while a load of women he passed over had a good grope).  It’s funny listening to Ten and Versus now as they just sound so MOR classic rock and although I only see 40 minutes of their BDO set, it’s very much the same sound.  In those 40 minutes I think they only play 5 or 6 songs and each one seems to disappear into some never-ending Neil Young-like guitar solo jam.  I like Neil Young and seeing him play with Crazy Horse at Phoenix festival in 1996 is one of my all-time favourite festival sets. (I also saw him the following year when he played at Reading with Pearl Jam as his backing band) but Pearl Jam aren’t Neil Young and just sound very ordinary, which is disappointing.

Originally I wasn’t going to see Deftones but I’d seen enough of Pearl Jam after 40 minutes.  Why they’ve become a band who’d decided to play 2.5 hour sets, I don’t know.  There are very few acts that can pull it off and I don’t think Pearl Jam are one of them.  I’d seen Deftones a couple of years ago at Soundwave and they were fun to photograph for a few songs so cut my losses at the main stage and wandered across to the JBL Essential Stage.  It’s a very similar to Soundwave (I’ve been told they pretty much played the same set), the only real difference being that last time they played in the middle of the afternoon, this time under lights and with a lot of strobing and backlighting making it harder to photograph. Deftones, Beady Eye and The Hives may have been brought in to make up for the loss of Blur from the line-up, but I would have much rather seen and photographed Blur.

I can safely say that I saw some of the worst bands in musical history at this year’s Big Day Out so it’s apt that my night ends with Major Lazer.  There are times when you feel that there’s a real generation gap and that you’re just too old for modern music and this is one of those times.  The tent is packed to capacity and overflowing well outside the tent and yet it’s for some awful, clichéd dance music that’s got a really dated sound much like a cross between Jive Bunny and 2Unlimited.  To quote Lorde, I guess I’m tired of being told to throw my hands up in the air.  I quit the photo pit after a couple of songs so miss the big flag and the Flaming Lips-style-ball-into-the crowd.  I don’t know how the other photographers could endure it so long.

Having caught the bus back to the train station, I find I’ve missed the train back to Brisbane by 3 minutes and so have a 57 minute wait ahead of me.  It’s a good job I brought my notebook as I can get started on the photos while I wait and on the train back.  Although I get back just before midnight, I’m up until almost 5am editing the photos to get them sent off and feel suitably wrecked for the next few days as a result.

Despite everything I’d feared about the move away from the Gold Coast Parklands, having the festival at Metricon was a good move. I expected the worst from the venue but it makes sense having a festival at a stadium, as so much of the infrastructure is already there, although in an ideal world it shouldn’t be down on the Gold Coast.

Most of the lead up to this year’s Big Day Out was about the behind the scene changes and poor ticket sales.  If I hadn’t have been photographing, I would have had no interest in going to this year’s Big Day Out; there was nothing on the line-up that would have enticed me to pay the best part of $200 for the day.  I say that as someone who has previously bought tickets for the Big Day Out as it took me seven attempts to get finally get someone to arrange photo accreditation for me.  It’s frustrating that having finally been rewarded with accreditation over the last few years that the line-up hasn’t been as good, or at least there haven’t been as many bands that I’ve really wanted to photograph, as it was back in the mid-2000s.

This year far more column inches have been devoted to the behind-the-scenes issues, with reports on the changes in management, poor tickets sales, and all the back-and-forth accusations after Blur pulled out at the last minute.  With festivals being cancelled or ditched left, right and centre, who knows where the Big Day Out goes from here.  It needs a better line-up, but as I’ve written previously, the lack of ‘white whales’ in the modern world makes the long-term viability of these sort of one-day, big main stage, big-name headliner festivals unlikely.

Big Day Out 2014 @ Metricon Stadium, 19.01.2014: Part 2

Bo Ningen @ Big Day Out 2014, Metricon Stadium, Sunday 19 January 2014

After The Drones have mostly emptied the Red Stage tent, Grouplove pack it out to capacity.  Within half a song it’s clear that the band’s main influence has to be the Eurovision Song Contest.  There’s no way a band could come up with a song like their opening song, the sort of thing you’d tune into SBS in May and would expect to be representing an Eastern Mediterranean country or perhaps one of the far Eastern, old Soviet country, without having an in depth knowledge of the event and without religiously watching the telecast each and every year.  I mean, there’s no way that a band would come up with something like this seriously is there?  It’s a tongue in cheek tribute, right? Oh. By the end of the day I can safely say that I’ve seen some of the worst bands in music and yet they manage to keep coming

After Grouplove, a band singing about going to the pub is a relief.  I would have stayed for longer than two songs but have a recommendation to go and check out.

They might be playing the tiny Headspace stage in front of a couple hundred people, most who are sat on the ground and only there because of the shade offered by the trees near to the stage, but Bo Ningen turn out to be Band of the Day by a country mile. One of the worst things about living in Australia is that new non-Australian bands generally only make it to this side of the world when they’ve built an audience in the UK/US and there’s some financial sense to touring over here.  I miss living in London and being able to see new bands in their infancy in small venues as they start to gain some attention before they break-out.  It’s more difficult to be surprised by an act in Australia.  I miss the UK festivals, Glastonbury especially, when you could always find your new favourite band playing a random stage as you were passing and just happened to take a detour or were lulled into the tent by an interesting siren call or just to escape the rain.  This is where the mainstream Australian festivals really fail as they just don’t take risks and book surprises.  The overseas acts booked are generally all established acts (unless they’re playing because they’re signed to the organiser’s record label) and are there purely for ticket sales.  Even the Australian acts are the ones getting massive radio play and often booked across multiple festivals during the year, giving an increasingly recycled look to most Australian festivals.  How a band like Bo Ningen managed to get themselves booked on the festivals smallest stage in the middle of the afternoon is hard to explain but whoever made that decision deserves some sort of award.  Having instantly become my new favourite band, the following day’s good news is that they announce an instore at Tym Guitars in the Valley and so I get to see them twice in three days.  Hopefully it won’t be too long before they’re back for a proper tour.

I’ve never really understood the attraction of The Hives. They do the same thing they always do and have been doing for the last decade and the crowd just lap it up.  After photographing the first three songs, we also get to catch the last song as we’re all waiting in the photo pit for Beady Eye and it must go on for 10 minutes.  It seems strange to play a fairly short festival set in the afternoon and include a massive finale song that consists mostly of crowd interaction rather than song.

It’s about this time of the afternoon that I find out the news about the Pearl Jam access that I didn’t even know about in the first place.  As seems to always be the case there were issues with accreditation.  I didn’t get the official email telling me I was good to go for BDO and instead got a email from the festival’s PR expressing surprise that I didn’t get the official email but that my name was down and everything was ok.  What the official email contained, and what I didn’t know about until the middle of the afternoon, by which time it was all far too late, was that you had to apply separately to photograph the festivals headline act.  The names had been given to Pearl Jam’s management and the lucky photographers had been selected and notified.

According to the onsite media, there were supposed to be 13 photographers but the list was extended to 16 or 17.  Given that there must have been 35+ photographers on the day it meant that most people weren’t approved to photograph them.  The reason given was that Pearl Jam didn’t want a load of people milling around right in front of them.  It’s a fairly poor excuse given the thousands of people in the crowd on the other side of the photo pit and I think it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced the headline act of a festival requiring a separate approval phase to photograph them.

If I’d known in advance that I wasn’t going to get to photograph them, I probably wouldn’t have bothered agreeing to photograph the festival.  The line-up was nothing to write home about (to say the very least) and they were the only act that I was really interested in photographing, for old times sake and everything, after Blur had pulled out of the festival.

I’d seen Mudhoney the night before at The Zoo at that all too rare of a Brisbane sideshow so only popped in to see them for a couple of songs to get a few quick shots.  They play to a similar amount of people as The Drones, everyone that packed the tent for Grouplove obviously had something terrible to go and see.

Blur were originally another big drawcard for me.  Even though I’ve never been much of a fan, I really liked them when I saw them headline Glastonbury one time, and really want to see them in a similar environment.  With the band pulling out of the festival very late in the day, going for Beady Eye as a replacement was just too obvious a strategy, even if DiS had given their recent album 0/10.  Similar to Blur, I was never a big Oasis fan. The first two ‘classic’ albums are both patchy with a handful of strong songs but a load of sub-standard filler and despite having seen the play on numerous occasions, from the big festival stages to the small cattleshed of Exeter Westpoint, I was never impressed with them live.  Although there’s obviously no Noel Gallagher, most of the recent line-up of Oasis are on stage and nothing much has changed.  Liam still stands there with his hands behind his back leaning into his microphone, the rest of the just stand there.  To be fair, the first song sounds ok, essentially like an average Oasis song, but the real difference is in the swagger that those songs had 20 years ago compared to the more plodding nature that Beady Eye come up with now.  It’s not terrible but it’s just not that good either.  Even though they have that 0/10 DiS-reviewed album to plug, given the nature of their addition to the bill and given the 20 year anniversary of Definitely Maybe,  I thought they would have been better to include more Oasis songs and more earlier on to get the crowd on their side.  Leaving the photo pit, it’s clear that the audience there to see them is tiny, even when compared to the one that had been there for The Hives, right before they played

Poor CSS. Last time they played at BDO it was in a full Boiler Room, with Lovefoxx crowd surfing out into the audience.  Today they play the tiny Headspace stage to a smattering of people who remember who they are.  Pop music is such a fickle business.  It looks like it really affects them as it all feels a bit half-hearted.

Big Day Out 2014 @ Metricon Stadium, 19.01.2014: Part 1

Big Day Out 2014 @ Metricon Stadium, Sunday 19 January 2014
This year’s Big Day Out line-up wasn’t the greatest, to say the very least.  It was clear that the organisers spent their money on the three big bands at the top of the bill, leaving them little to flesh out the rest of the day.  Although I was never much of a fan, getting to photograph Blur was a big draw and although I don’t think much of their albums, they’ve always been an impressive live band.  Blur pulling out left a very big hole, even though the organisers tried to do their best by getting three bands to replace them.  The trouble was that neither Beady Eye, The Hives or The Deftones would have made me want to go the festival and I’ve seen/photographed two of them in the last few years anyway.

The attractiveness of spending the day at the festival isn’t helped by the thought of it moving from its old Parklands home (the site being re-developed for Commonwealth Games accommodation) to a football stadium.  At least, unlike last year, I haven’t got jetlag from flying back from the UK just a day before the festival.

The festival’s line-up is well reflected in the train down to Nerang,  a weird mix of crusty old dudes in band t shirts and young girls in short shorts.  Although the festival has moved, a bunch of people who look like they’re the BDO’s target audience get off the train at Helensvale, the stop for the old Parklands site.  Maybe they didn’t realise/remember that they needed to stay on the train for another couple of stops.

Having moved to a new venue, I got an early train so that I could get in when the doors opened and have a walk around the site before the bands started playing, to get my bearings, identify where the photo pit entrances were, decide on the best routes between the stages and get some random, non-band photos around the site before the music starts and it becomes too difficult to find the time to do that.  Having got their early, it’s no surprise that the festival isn’t ready and the doors don’t open on time.  The ticket booth is the other side of the main entrance so I can’t even sort out my photo pass so that I don’t have to waste time on that once I get through the doors.  Instead it’s a case of joining the ever increasing queue in the hot sun of the middle of summer.  The highlight of the queue is the two guys, one wearing a Ramones t shirt.  His friend makes the comment that he doesn’t know The Ramones, prompting astonishment from his mate, who promptly starts singing a medley of well-known Ramones songs but to no avail.  It’s hard to believe that someone going to a festival like the BDO would be oblivious to songs like ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ and ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’.  The youth of today, hey?.

Having finally made it in through the main gates to the box office, as is always the way, I find that I’m not on the guest list.  It was a late confirmation from the festival’s publicity and came via a personal email as apparently I didn’t get the official mailout which probably should have set the alarm bells ringing.  Instead of being inside well in time to photograph the first band of the day, DZ Deathrays, I find myself waiting for the publicity rep in the ever-decreasing shade offered by the box office portacabin as the hot mid-summer sun slowly encroaches.  It feels like it’s par for the course for any and every music festival I photograph.

I finally get into the site, far too late to even think about going to photograph DZ Deathrays so do the only sensible thing and head straight for media room. This year, with the festival moving to a football stadium and the surrounding grounds, we’re provided with a proper portacabin of our own complete with sofas, tables/chairs, power and not only free wi-fi but free wi-fi that actually works.  It’s probably not as good as last year when we there was a free bar for the day and food but they have left a few free drinks and some nibbles to help out.  On the upside, there is AC and lots of it.  It provides an almost mandatory destination after photographing each band throughout the day

I eventually leave the confines of the media room and head to the main stage to photograph Bluejuice.  They weren’t in my original plan for the day as I can’t stand them, but I want to make up up for missing out on DZ and get photographing my first band of the day out of the way.

Violent Soho pack the Red Stage tent. It’s amazing what some heavy triple j playlisting can do for you.  Until recently Soho always felt like a well-kept Brisbane secret.  Being signed to Thurston Moore’s record label, moving to New York, playing an ATP at the request of Les Savy Fav provided a few column inches in street press but it wasn’t until the band came back to Australia and got connected to the ‘right’ people, in this case party label I Oh You, that the rest of Australia paid something more than brief, indifferent  glance.  It’s not that the band are better than they’ve ever been, they’ve always been this good.  It might have taken three albums over almost a decade but but that’s how the Australian music industry works.  Despite having seen and photographed them numerous times over the years, I think this might be the first time since Market Day in 2006 that I’ve actually photographed them with a photo pit.  I’ve always failed to get much in the way of decent shots of Luke Henry, as he either plays in a dark corner or I’m crammed in on the other side of the stage in front of James Tidswell and unable to move over to his side of the stage. I make him the main focus of my time in the pit and actually manage to get a few good ones for a change.

I endure less than two songs of Portugal.The Man but find myself losing the will to live and make a quick exit.  There are so many proponents of the triple j sound on offer today.  For anyone that would deny that such a thing doesn’t exist I would take them around this year’s Big Day Out and explain the slight difference between the commercial radio sound and the very mainstream sound of the national youth radio station.  Too much of the opinion on the matter has mistakenly spent too much time on genres as a defence, when the argument must surely be that it’s the safe populist FM radio range of bands in each of the musical genres played that’s much more the issue.  Despite the lunchtime temperatures being way above 30 degrees, Portugal.The Man’s singer manages to wear a waterproof jacket with the hood pulled tight so that he looks like a dark blue version of Kenny from South Park.  Maybe it’s just some kind of artistic statement.

In running away from the main stadium stage back to the media room, I stumble across Sneeky Picnic on the tiny outdoor Headspace stage.  I’m drawn towards the stage by the sound of something sounding really good and that sounds like a perfect antidote to Portugal.The Man.  The five piece sound fantastic and are one of the musical surprises of the day.  I’m really disappointed when I track down some tracks on Soundcloud and find that on their recordings the band are far too polished and clearly aiming for a really commercial sheen.  Playing live they had so much more grit and attitude.  The day after the festival I’m sweltering on the sofa listening to Cut by the The Slits thinking that if they haven’t already, Sneeky Picnic really need to have a listen to this.

Sometimes it feels that you just keep seeing the same bands at every festival you go to, and in recent times I’ve found myself stood in front of The Naked & Famous far too often than I would have liked.  Two songs and I’m out.

Violent Soho packed the Red Stage tent but before Grouplove repeat that feat, The Drones manage to largely empty the space.  I stay and watch the band for most of their set and conclude that the Big Day Out is a really good place to see them as they seem to really raise their game when they’re the outsiders on the bill.  Playing for only 45/60 mins, they play a strong set that you could almost call a ‘Greatest Hits’ package.

The 1975 are a band whose name I seen a lot of in the lead up to the festival and although I’d never heard them I was interested in going to check out and photograph.  When it comes to photographing festivals it’s usually the case to make the most of time to photograph acts from overseas as you can pretty much photograph the Australian bands several times a year if you really want to.  I really wish I hadn’t have bothered because The 1975 are terrible, one of the day’s true low points, so after a couple of songs I head back to get another fix of The Drones.

Soundwave 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 22.02.2014: On Film

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The last festival of the summer season. Future Music happened the following week but it’s a different beast to what it’s been in the last few years, with next to no live acts and a lot more DJs and laptop acts, so I wasn’t interested in looking to photograph it.

As with Big Day Out and Laneway, these photos were taken on Kodak Tri-X pushed to ISO 800 and developed in ID-11.

Considering how many acts I shot on film at Laneway, I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t photograph very many at this year’s Soundwave. I think it was just due to time. The Laneway stages are closer together, whereas at Soundwave, especially during a period from early afternoon to early evening, there was barely enough time to photograph the bands with a digital camera, let alone have time to take some additional shots on film. Some of the acts playing during that period only got about a songs-worth of photographing before it was time to run over to another stage for another band. As we only got one song with Green Day and they didn’t tell us this until the end of the one song, there was no chance to get any film photos of the festival’s main stage headliner.

It’s a modern day music phenomena to publish a lazy post about the 10 Things We Learnt for every festival. I really hate this format of publishing for a number of reasons, and apart from being a lazy way to create content based on amalgamating a few tweeted ideas from the day, I figure that I went to school to learn and went to rock ‘n’ roll to escape all that. I don’t want to learn anything from music.

But what have I learnt from taking rolls of film at a few music festivals in 2014? The first festival I properly photographed (from the photo pit, with a photo pass, for a publication) was the first Come Together at Luna Park and I think I used about 10 rolls of film for the twenty-or-so acts I photographed. That’s 360 shots in total. The first festival I photographed with a digital camera was the first V Festival down at the Gold Coast and I only took about 500 shots during the day. Over the years there’s been a slow upwards creep in the number of photos that I take at a festival. For a while it was around the 1,000 shots mark but this year was over 1,300 shots for Big Day Out and Soundwave. That works out at 36 rolls of film, and assuming 20 bands, roughly 65 shots per band.

I know there are photographers out there who take over 4,000 photos at a typical festival, equivalent to 111 rolls of film and, assuming that 20 acts were photographed during the day, 200 shots per act on average. It seems a ludicrous amount of photos to me and I often wonder if you’re taking that many shots, how much thought is being put in to composition or looking at what’s actually happening through the viewfinder or listening to the music and anticipating what might happen next. Or are photographers just machine gunning through each band, deleting the superfluous shots at the end of the day.

There’s never been that much to music photography, even less in a digital world when you can see what you take and make adjustments to your settings and where there’s essentially no limit as to how many photos you can take. I’ve often said that I could tell someone everything I know about music photography in 15 minutes.

I really miss those heady days of a few years ago when I was one of Rave’s contributing photographers and I’d often be out 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes more, seeing some bands and photographing them. It’s one of my very favourite things to do with my time but I’ve almost always been happy to be a hobbyist photographer. There have been times when I’ve thought about how good it would be to be a professional photographer but then reality kicks in. For me, it’s never been about the money and most music photography I’ve done has been unpaid. It’s nice when someone offers you money but it’s not the be-all and end-all and not the reason I’ve ever done it. I don’t envy anyone trying to make a career as a professional photographer. Looking back on where the photography industry has gone in the last decade and projecting it forward, I can’t see it getting any better in the next ten years, let alone looking forward to the long–term future.

Throughout history technology has always usurped creative and artistic careers. Once upon a time the blacksmith was the most important person in a village and people like stone masons and thatchers were always in demand. I’m sure if you really need to find a traditional blacksmith, stone mason or thatcher, you can do but it’s a really specialised career now and (I’m guessing) comes at an appropriate price. When forums and message boards have their perennial discussions about music photography and money, I often consider that it’s like the cottage weavers against the Spinning Jennys. In a generation a craft that had existed for hundreds of years virtually disappeared. The work that was once carried out by highly skilled craftspeople could be mass produced by a machine and they were replaced by largely unskilled machine operators and manual labourers. You can’t win a battle against advanced technology. Everyone has a camera, even if it’s just the one in their pocket connected to their phone and the world is flooded with photos every minute of every hour of every day. It’s made the photograph as an item of value almost worthless. Obviously there are and there will continue to be exceptions to the rule but I wouldn’t want to be thinking of a long-term career in photography.

George Eastman’s aim was “to make the camera as convenient as the pencil” and digital photography has essentially achieved that. It’s ironic, especially given how far the technology has come in even the last 20 years, that his suicide note from 1932 was a simple “My work is done – Why wait?”

I guess this post includes some of the things I had been meaning to write in response to Leah Robertson’s ‘Guilt, Gratitude, Music Photography’ piece from last year (and also Dan Boud’s response to Leah’s article) although there’s still a lot more I could write on the subject and will no doubt get around to covering at some point in the future.

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

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In retrospect, taking a roll of film during one of my three song allocation for Bruce Springsteen wasn’t the best use of my time.

Given this was a sound desk shoot, or at least the equivalent as we were right out at the side of the floor space, positioned on the steps up to the next level, I should have taken another song of digital.

With the distance, close-ups needed to be slightly cropped which doesn’t work as well with scanned in, digitalised negatives.  They would probably work better as darkroom enlargements, printing on paper gives a slightly softer end result, more so than the more harsh pixelation of a scanned negative.  In addition, at that distance, it’s tricky spot metering on a moving object and I managed to overexpose based on the skin tones.  They’re not a terrible set of photos, I just think if I had taken a third song of digital I would have ended up with a better set of images overall from the pretty much once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to photograph The Boss.  I was really happy with the digital photos I got from the show and I’ll be posting those up shortly along with the full story.

Mudhoney + feedtime + Gravel Samwidge @ The Zoo, 18-01-2014

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Once again it’s very slim pickings for music festival sideshows in Brisbane in 2014. I think the Mudhoney show at The Zoo, the night before the festival starts its Australian dates at its new Gold Coast location, might be the only Big Day Out sideshow in town this year.

Knowing that there’s a long day ahead in the morning, and an early start, the last thing I want from a show the night before is a late night but Mudhoney manage this by playing a set that doesn’t start until 10:30pm and isn’t scheduled to end until 12:15am. Given the time to walk back to the car, drive back home and get to sleep (which is always difficult after a gig anyway), a 12:15am end time essentially means not getting to bed until after 1am. At that time, the thought of a 7:30am alarm call isn’t very inviting even without the addition of a day walking more than 10km with a 10kg camera bag in the 30+ degrees heat of the Gold Coast. In the end I think the band finish a bit early than advertised but it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference the next morning.

It’s only been a couple of years since Mudhoney were last out here, also playing a show at The Zoo. Tonight’s setlist is almost identical to the last time give or take a few songs from their latest album. The photos are almost identical as well, although I did make more of an effort to get more of Steve Turner this time around.

It always makes me a bit sad when big international acts play to a less than sold out Zoo, especially when there’s an endless stream of latest triple j darlings who have no problems selling out multiple nights at the venue. It’s an odd mix in tonight, mostly the usual 40+ guys who have the band’s history firmly entrenched in their own personal histories, like a lot of the shows I go to. The oddest sight is the group of guys who look like they’re in their early 20s and who position themselves at the front against the stage for the headliners within seconds of support band feedtime finishing. One of the group is wearing a bandana and aviator sunglasses and doesn’t take off his sunglasses for the whole gig, although he starts to get aggravated with the mosh of 40 year olds going on behind him. It’s a shame he wasn’t at the recent Future Of The Left show, I’m sure Falco would have had something to say about his appearance.

Future Of The Left + Turnpike + Damn Terran @ The Zoo, 05.01.2014

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I was a bit of a later adopter to crowd funded albums. I guess I’m a late adopter to most things, everything from CD players (I bought my first dedicated, non-computer one in 2007) to iPods (I was given my first one as a birthday present in 2010). I mean I still go to the shops and buy music and I’ve never bought anything from the Apple store.

I kept meaning to buy things when Brisbane bands started crowding funding releases but kept not getting around to it until it was too late. Future Of The Left’s How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident was the first time I’ve given someone money before they’ve actually produced anything. I did buy the mbv album when it was first announced but that was already recorded and just a case of buying it directly from the band rather than being crowd funded in the normal sense of the model. FoTL are a band that I’ve loved over the last few years even though I was a late comer to the band as they always played Brisbane in the New Year when I’m often away. It’s a weird feeling having given them some money with no idea what they might produce but then being completely delighted with what you receive (the pre-release download followed by a signed album on vinyl in the post) and just really happy for the band that you could help them out in a very small way to release an album that’s been so well received. One thing I couldn’t believe was when Falco said that something like 1,800 people had pledged, I just expected so many more people would have, I guess I thought three or four times as many as did.

The band play an instore in Tym’s on the afternoon of the show. It’s a fairly miserable drive in from Salisbury as England manage to stage yet another collapse in the Sydney Test and lose well within four days to lose the series 5-0. It felt like that first day at The Gabba that I went to only about 6 weeks earlier was a lifetime ago (the first day was a lot more pleasant than the second day though). The downside with always touring Australia at the start of January is that you’re pretty much guaranteed that your dates are going to coincide with a post-Xmas heatwave. It’s stupidly hot in Tym’s, the fans make little different and within a few minutes of being in the shop I could probably wring my t-shirt out. The only upside is that they didn’t play yesterday, as the Saturday was even hotter.

When you play in a heatwave there are very few places you want to be less than The Zoo but thankfully it’s not as hot as it was in Tym’s. I’ve only ever seen them with this line-up and they looked settled, with obvious camaraderie between them. It’s a bit of surprise to see Falco tweeting (in March 2014) about some solo songs that he’s releasing that don’t fit into the FoTL style. It’s one thing I often think about as bands just seem to pigeon themselves into one particular sound/style, with side projects used to try out other things, rather than progressing as a band and going in new directions.

The band are excellent and it’s a really enjoyable show. One surprise is that the band don’t play much (if anything, I can’t exactly remember) from their last album, The Plot Against Common Sense, which they obviously focused on during their last tour, but which has a load of great songs on it. The bulk of the set comes from How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident but the band also drop in their couple of obligatory mclusky songs, ‘Light Sabre Cocksucking Blues’ and ‘To Hell With Good Intentions’. Interestingly they start with ‘Arming Eritrea’, which I’m sure Falco tweeted that they wouldn’t be doing anymore a few months earlier.

To go with my signed copy of the album I also pick up a t-shirt and having been reminded of the genius of mclusky search the internet and manage to get the Record Day coloured vinyl re-release of Mclusky Do Dallas for less than $30 including the postage from the UK. It’s a bargain, especially given how stupidly expensive vinyl has become in Australia. I can’t work out how the pricing model works when one single album might cost $25 but another might be double that. I guess it’s the music industry milking it for all its worth as ever.

Eight

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I managed to be disorganised enough to miss the eighth anniversary of keeping a blog yesterday.

In those eight years I have written 544 with this post now being Number 545.  It’s been another slow year of 50 published posts.  I guess it’s a slight increase on last year’s 45 but a long way down on the year before’s really productive year of 88 published posts.

As ever, there’s a big backlog of posts to complete but at least I’m already into 2014 and most of those to complete are the multi-part festival posts.   I still haven’t put together my round-up of 2013 or even taken a photo of my 2013 photo passes and tickets, an ever-shrinking pile, hence a repeat of last year’s photo.

Every year I publish this post and it’s only as an afterthought that I consider that I probably should have included a list of the most popular posts during the year.

So, the most popular posts of the last 12 months are as follows:

  1. Brian Setzer’s Rockabily Riot @ The Tivoli, 28.03.2012
  2. Soundwave 2012 @ RNA Showgrounds, 25.02.2012: Part 1
  3. Soundwave 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, 23.02.2013: Part 3
  4. Parklife 2011 @ The Riverstage, 01.10.2011
  5. Flavours  of Scuzz @ Woodland, 09.07.2011
  6. Steely Dan + Steve Winwood @ Sirromet Wines, Mt Cotton, 23.10.2011
  7. Good Vibrations @ Gold Coast parklands, 19.02.2011: Part 1
  8. Queens Of The Stone Age – The True Meaning of Era Vulgaris
  9. Soundwave 2012 @ RNA Showgrounds, 25.02.2012: Part 3
  10. Future Music Festival @ Doomben Racecourse, 03.03.2012: Part 1
  11. Masters of Music Photography – Part 4: Anton Corbijn
  12. Laneway 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, 01.02.2013: Part 1
  13. Soundwave 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, 23.02.2013: Part 2
  14. No Anchor + Ø + Vassals @ The Waiting Room, 31.05.2013
  15. Soundwave 2010 @ RNA Showgrounds, 20.02.2010: Part 1