Music Photography

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

FutureOfTheLeft_TheZoo_05012014_041

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

Tickets&Passes2012_07072013_014

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

Laneway 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 31.01.2014: On Film

EarlSweatshirt_Laneway2014_RNAShowgrounds_31012014_002

Laneway was shot on film in the same fashion as Big Day Out: Kodak Tri-X pushed to ISO 800, and then developed in ID-11. In developing these ones I was surprised to see how many acts I photographed on film given how busy the day was Nine out of 22 acts were given the honour; Adalita, Chvrches, Dick Diver, Earl Sweatshirt, King Krule, Kirin J Callinan, Lorde and Savages. I was obviously really enjoying it as I went through about 2 1/3 films, leaving the rest of the third film to be finished at Soundwave. Again it was a similar scenario, getting the Minolta 5 out of the bag when I was bored of photographing digital and/or knew that I had plenty of digital photos.

Looking at them, I think the ones of acts playing the indoor Zoo Stage and the undercover Carpark Stage came out a lot better than those of the acts playing the main Alexandria Stage. I think the general evenness of the light helped. I often struggle with exposure on the big, outdoor stages as a step back from the bright sunlight on the edge of the stage to the covered part of the stage can often instantly cause something like a three stops change in exposure. Of course it never helps when everyone who plays on a stage also decides to dress in either all-black or all-white in the mid-afternoon sun when you’re trying to perfect an exposure for that moment.

The main disappointment, however, was the photos I took of Lorde, by far and away the day’s best act. Although I only took seven or eight shots, none were much good and it showed that my film camera dislikes smoke machines almost as much as my digital camera. The Savages photos weren’t that great either but they did play in the dark with only back-lighting and the digital photos weren’t up to much either.

Big Day Out 2014 @ Metricon Stadium, 19.01.2014: On Film

SnoopLion_BDO2014_MetriconStadium_19012014_002

I normally like to keep things roughly chronological on This Is Not A Photo Opportunity, even though it usually means a massive backlog around festival time when there just isn’t the time to keep up to date.

I’m going to break with convention to put up a few posts from this year’s festival season with some photos that I shot on film. I decided after last year’s Soundwave, a day where I did take a couple of rolls of film to compliment the normal digital images, that I would make a conscious effort to try and use some film at all the festivals. The Australian festival season ended up being truncated this year, with no Harvest, Parklife massively downsizing and Future Music ditching most of the live music they used to put on in favour of more DJs and laptop acts, which only left me with Big Day Out, Laneway and Soundwave.

For about the last dozen years I’ve almost exclusively used Ilford HP5 and developed it using Ilford ID-11. This year I decided to have a change and bought up a bunch of Kodak Tri-X instead. The main reason for the change was a combination of experiment and finance. I recently bought a roll of HP5 at Ted’s in Brisbane and almost died when they charged me $18.95 for it. I used to import this stuff in bulk from the UK for less than $7.50 per roll and even if I was caught short and had to buy it in Australia I was only paying about $10. At Photo Continental in Mt Gravatt, the price for HP5 was much better, $12 or $13 I think, but the Tri-X was coming in at less than $10. In terms of the experimenting-side of the change, it was more to do with the name and reputation that Tri-X has as a black and white film more than anything I was particularly looking for in terms of grain or contrast.

For all these festivals I ending up going with an ISO of 800 which I hoped would be best for the outside stages as well as the indoor tents and buildings. It all went well in terms of the aperture/shutter speeds that I could use for exposure. Using ISO 800 in the day on the outside stages just meant a high aperture and/or shutter speed and the ISO was sufficient for the indoor/undercover stages and for the night time stages to allow sensible settings.

All was good until it came to do the developing and I found that there isn’t a chart for developing Tri-X at ISO 800 in ID-11. Although Google offered a number of developing times, there wasn’t much consistency in the advice. The most useful guidance was that ID-11 is more or less identical to D-76 so to use the D-76 developing times instead.

There’s always a nerve-wrecking moment when you open the developing canister, when you hope everything has gone ok and that the negatives are going to show some sign of an image and it was really reassuring to see that the negatives had come out much better than expected.

The photos are more of less how they came out of the developing tank. I did a quick bit of work on most of the photos, but nothing that you wouldn’t do in the darkroom if you were making prints and wanted to increase the contrast. I did a tiny of retouching to remove the worst to the dust & hairs that negatives always manage to pick up somehow. I still managed to miss a few glaring examples though. Next time I’ll have to remember to buy some neg cleaner before I start to get them looking a whole lot cleaner to start with before I scan them in.

For the Big Day Out film photos, I took a few throughout the day. There was no real approach or plan to it, more a case of quickly pulling out my old Minolta 5 if I was bored or thought I had enough photos on my digital camera. I’m surprised I didn’t take anything of Arcade Fire but I think that was more to do with not being happy with the shots I was getting, despite the first three lasting a while. I’m disappointed that I didn’t take any shots of Bo Ningen, given that they were the best band by a country mile. I didn’t get to photograph Pearl Jam so there was never going to be any photos of them anyway.

Chic featuring Nile Rodgers @ The Tivoli, 15.12.2013

Chic_TheTivoli_15122013_014

Ever since I’ve been interested in music photography (and that’s quite some time) one of my very favourite photos and probably my favourite group shot has been the Jill Furmanovsky photo of Chic. Group photos is something I don’t do a whole lot, I’ve always much preferred a portrait style but getting a good shot of a group is a difficult task to get everyone perfectly framed. Normally you’ll always end up with one person who’s got their eyes half shut or their mouth half open, with their tongue sticking out, or you’ll get someone who just isn’t positioned right, showing too much of their back to you. Sometimes you take an almost great shot but find that the microphone stand or the guitarist’s headstock is covering someone’s face. Jill Furmanovsky’s photo is just such a perfect shot, perfectly framed and, probably most important of all, it really tells you a story about Chic and their music even if you’ve never even heard it. Although I’ve got zero chance of replicating that photo (especially as bassist Bernard Edwards died in 1996) or coming up with anything as good as it, it’s in the back of mind for tonight’s show.

There are early shows and early shows but with tonight’s headliners due to start at 6:30pm, it’s in a whole different ballgame compared to most. Even for a Sunday night it seems a fairly ridiculous time to start playing, not that I’m complaining. There’s nothing I like better (and I’m so glad I didn’t photograph the recent Flying Lotus show at The Hi-Fi which started at 11:30pm on a Thursday night because I would have been so mad at the inconsideration of the very idea of it and so tired at work the following day).

The next out of the ordinary thing that occurs is that Nile Rodgers wanders onstage to do his own soundcheck. I know it’s only a reasonably small show at The Tivoli but it’s fairly bizarre watching him test out the levels on his guitar and microphone and have an impromptu chat to the crowd about it all. I’m positive that the band has got an army of roadies to help set up and do those things so it’s just really strange seeing someone who’s probably one of the richest people I’ve ever seen close-up in real life do something so un-rockstar-like.

I did read autobiography a couple of months ago and it was, for the most part, a wonderful read. He had a crazy upbringing of drug addict parents and cross-country trips back-and-forth to stay with more responsible relatives, a really tough sounding childhood but he never shows any sign of anger or regret at it about it in the book. I read far too many musician autobiographies and biographies than is probably healthy but this was one of the better ones in recent times, at least in terms of ‘stories’ (it was no Morrissey autobiography, mind). The only disappointment was that the last fifteen or so years of his life was pretty much skimmed over, perhaps no surprise given his life and who he worked with during the 1970s and 1980s.

Tonight’s set is a Nile Rodgers’ Greatest Hits set, his own songs plus songs that he worked on as producer. Looking at the setlist and then hearing all these songs, it’s remarkable just the impact he’s had on popular music. From those timeless Chic classics to the songs they wrote for Sister Sledge and Diana Ross to the songs he produced for Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran and INXS. The shows starts off at a ridiculous pace, with a staggering run of ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’, ‘I Want Your Love’, ‘I’m Coming Out’, ‘Upside Down’, ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’, and ‘We Are Family’. It does drop off in the middle with a few less known songs although strangely the weakest song of the night is the cover of ‘Like A Virgin’ which just doesn’t seem to work as a live song, it’s just too stilted. The show picks up again and ends pretty much as it began. Watching the band play ‘Le Freak’ as their final song of the main set and coming back for an encore of ‘Good Times’ is just amazing.

As expected, I didn’t come away with any photos that are going to stand the test of time like that Jill Furmanovsky shot but still got some ok ones. It turns out to be my last show of the year and it’s an thrilling way for 2013 to end.

Bitch Prefect + Cured Pink + Primitive Motion @ Black Bear Lodge, 29.11.2013

BitchPrefect_BlackBearLodge_29112013_006

I was disappointed with the latest Bitch Prefect album and mentioned it to someone that was reviewing it that it made me think that the whole Dolewave sound had gone as far as it could go. Fast forward a few months and it’s been amusing to see a bunch of articles about Dolewave and a whole lot more musing on social media and the music forums. It’s so very Australian music media that there’s suddenly been this glut of writing and analysis, given that the genre’s main protagonists have been around playing in bands and making albums for years, making any attempt to tie the sound into any particular current political/social mood look fairly baseless.

Live, Bitch Prefect are an entirely different prospect and the new songs bristle with an energy and urgency that they just don’t have on recording. Having said that, I still stand by my original prognosis that this genre and sound has more or less reached its natural conclusion.

Cured Pink and Primitive Motion swop positions on the bill from the times that have been advertised on Facebook. I really like the Primitive Motion album but unlike Bitch Prefect, I prefer them on recording as it doesn’t quite transfer to a live setting. The album sounds more layered and is softer sounding than the more stark and harder live sound, something that I think is probably unavoidable when you play live.

I love watching Cured Pink. They don’t play often enough.

The Breeders + Screamfeeder @ The Tivoli, 29.10.2013

TheBreeders_TheTivoli_29102013_027
Making the photos in your head that you want to take match the photos that you actually take at a show is a regular source of frustration.  However, tonight is a good night as at the fifth time of asking, I get a photo of Kim Deal that I’m really happy with.

The first time was Pixies at V Festival on the Gold Coast back in 2007.   The Pet Shop Boys, who were the headliners on the second stage, started late and the small window between the two main headliners vanished and I can remember rounding the corner as I ran to the main stage and seeing that the band had already started, and then getting to the pit and being completely unprepared.  I think I only got about a song-and-a-half and the whole thing was a real rushed job.  From memory history more or less repeated itself when the band played at one of the Woodford Splendour In The Grasses, with the massive distance between the stages providing a massive workout over the course of the weekend and resulting in another rushed job, although I think I did get the best part of the first three songs.  The final Pixies photo opportunity was one of the Doolittle shows at the Convention Centre but the lighting was pretty poor and it was an overall disappointment.  I also took a few photos of The Breeders at the Ten Years of ATP festival at Minehead but it from the crowd without a photo pass and so a distance away from the stage with a whole bunch of crowd in-between.

The band less shambolic than they were at that ATP, when at one point Kim and Kelly started playing different songs. I think they’re a better recording band than they are a live band, they’ve always had this awkwardness about them that comes across as a lack of self-confidence.  They’re not natural performers.  Most of going to see The Breeders play live is about being in the same room as Kim Deal’s voice and listening to her sing the likes of ‘Iris’, ‘Driving On 9’, ‘No Alloha’, and ‘Divine Hammer’.

The Tivoli is a lot busier than I would have expected, especially given that they played at The Zoo last time they were in Brisbane (and I don’t know if it sold out).  Last Splash seems an odd choice as an album to play all the way through, even though it’s the album celebrating a 20th anniversary.  I guess I always preferred Pod, my introduction to the band when it was a new album.  One of the main disadvantages in playing Last Splash from start to finish is that for many people it peaks a couple of songs in with Canonball and afterwards the room feels a bit flat.

It’s incredible to consider that the Deal twins are 52 now, time really does just flies and suddenly the albums you grew up with are celebrating all these milestone anniversaries, 20 years and more.  The band gets older, and although you get older in a way you don’t really realise it until you start working out how long ago all these things were. It’s all such a long time ago and yet at the same time it feels like it was only yesterday.

Soundwave 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 22.02.2014: The Quick Round-Up

GWAR_Soundwave2014_RNAShowgrounds_22022014_062

Although Soundwave was the third festival of the year, it’s the first one this year that I’ve managed to write a quick post for. Although time is always short to get something written and posted up quickly, phone problems have meant that I didn’t have any GPS data to write about for Big Day Out or Laneway, and that was always a large part of the point of doing them, as well as providing a link to the photos. A new phone (Nexus 5) means I’m back in the game.

This year’s Soundwave was ok but nothing really to write home about. Most of the last few years had the massive advantages of having headline bands in the form of Iron Maiden, Metallica and Faith No More from the era when this type of music meant something to me personally. It was the hard-to-resist pull of nostalgia to get excited about, as well as a day hanging out photographing bands. This year, with Green Day headlining, similar to 2012 when System of A Down headlined, I couldn’t have really cared less about the main stage headliner, so it was just a day hanging out photographing bands. As there wasn’t a whole lot I really wanted to see, I crammed as much as I could in, photographing 25 bands by the end of the day. Best new band I saw was Pulled Apart By Horses although it was shame that I couldn’t have seen more of them but I had to go and photograph GWAR, who managed to be both the photographic highlight and the day’s biggest missed opportunity. I came prepared for GWAR with a $5 waterproof and my waterproof camera jacket to protect myself against everything that the band has become famous for but at the end came away thinking that having gone to that effort, I should have been a whole lot bolder and really got in there, rather than hovering on the edges just out of range from all the blood being pumped out from the stage. It was also slightly annoying that GWAR started much later than they should have as I could have stayed and watched more of Pulled Apart By Horses. I had really looked forward to another chance of photographing The Dillinger Escape Plan but it was another frustrating experience in the photo pit and I didn’t come away with anything I was that happy with.

Recent issues concerning all things electronic continued to blight me and I had issues all day with my camera. I spent most of the day trying to get main lens (70-200) to focus and ended up with a lot of not-quite-sharp photos. Despite using low ISO for a lot of the day on the outside stages, shots that were taken at ISO 400 and below come across more like ISO 1600. The EVF seemed to be playing up early in the day but might have just been trying to keep up with the main stage contrast changes. I also got my flash on ready for Dillinger Escape Plan and despite having it set via the camera menu to “no flash” (until I needed it) it kept turning itself to “Fill Flash” on its own accord and also turning the speedlight on, which I didn’t think was even possible

It didn’t even finish at the venue. I got back home, started downloading photos until my other half points out that she can smell burning and the side of my notebook is too hot to touch and so I move everything from my notebook to an external hard drive. On Sunday morning I use my desktop computer and once again end up with smell of burning and case almost too hot to touch. Despite this I plough on through as fast as I can, setting the automate batch to process my carefully chosen selection of photos, only to come back later and find the computer has crashed and have to do it all again. Eventually I get the images all processed except somehow it’s missed 30 or so photos and so have to cross-reference to see which ones it missed and process those as a separate batch. What should have taken me a few hours to complete ends up taking almost all day. It’s always the way.

My day looked like this.  It was a surprise that I only covered about 10km. As always I forgot the start the GPS after I’d come through the gate but remembered by the time I’d got to the main stage for my first band of the day (having missed Amon Amarth and their Viking longboat drum riser due to not being on the media list after I’d made along the queue to the box office) and my battery died during photographing the last band of the night, Living Colour on Stage 7.


View 22/02 11:43 in a larger map

Total distance: 9.98 km (6.2 mi)
Total time: 9:46:21
Moving time: 6:04:53
Average speed: 1.02 km/h (0.6 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 1.64 km/h (1.0 mi/h)
Max speed: 9.38 km/h (5.8 mi/h)
Average pace: 58:44 min/km (94:31 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 36:33 min/km (58:49 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 6:24 min/km (10:18 min/mi)
Max elevation: 74 m (243 ft)
Min elevation: 48 m (157 ft)
Elevation gain: 237 m (777 ft)
Max grade: 878 %
Min grade: -20 %

The photos from Soundwave are up on The Vine, as are photos from Laneway and Big Day Out.