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


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.

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