Brisbane Sounds 2009 @ The Zoo

Vegas Kings

It was only when I started processing these photos that the significance struck home; as a photographer you wait years, a lifetime perhaps, for that one perfect split second moment to create an icon, construct the legend or fuel the myth. 

I know that every few blog posts I end up including a link to this photo; as a music photographer it’s inescapable.  Let’s call it ‘The Pennie Smith Moment’.  As music photographers will forever be posting in Flickr forums, historically the great music photos were not hindered by stupid music industry rules and conditions that are inescapable in the modern age.  ‘The Pennie Smith Moment’ happened because she was on tour with The Clash, had access all areas and was free to photograph for as long as she wanted, from wherever she wanted.

When opportunity presents itself you need to read the situation, anticipate what is going to happen next and be ready for when it does happen.

I remember thinking something was wrong, realising Paul was going to crack – and waited. The shot is out of focus because I ducked – he was closer than it looks” – Pennie Smith

With the generously suppplied AAA pass from The Zoo, I find myself side of stage at the end of the Vegas Kings‘ set.  The band are building to an end of set noisy climax, Pete and Ben swinging their guitars around and holding them aloft as the end of the last song builds up to a crescendo. And then Ben has the guitar above his head and without warning  hurls it guitar neck-wards towards the stage.  Being the main guitar I’ve seen him over the last few years and with Vegas Kings also being in the studio recording a new album I just wasn’t expecting it to happen, expecting him to feign a throw and just swing it around.

So with the combination of not anticipating it, being a single shot photographer as opposed to a machine-gunner and the darkness of the Zoo I end up with a close-but-no-cigar single shot – an underexposed, not-quite-in-focus, noisy, red light lit photo that could only really be saved by making it monochrome, with Pete’s guitar lead dangling down the middle – and a yearning for another once in a lifetime photo opportunity, another ‘Pennie Smith Moment’ to come my way sometime soon.

More photos on Flickr.


Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side

Vegas Kings

The Blackwater Fever

New Jack Rubys

The Mercy Beat

2 Responses to “Brisbane Sounds 2009 @ The Zoo”

  1. Stephen Goodwin says:

    I really enjoyed this gig, and hope it makes another return next year. The only band that didn’t grab me was Blackwater Fever — they just seemed deadly dull and flat coming after Vegas Kings, although I have seen them perform well before. Might have simply been an off-night.

    On Vegas Kings, I stopped taking photos about halfway through their set after I felt I’d gotten some decent shots and went to get a drink. Silly me.

    In fact, I suspect you might have been the only photog there that night to capture that moment? I like your shot anyway — he’s really leaning into that javelin throw, and it’s not that fuzzy. Even the cord isn’t so much distracting as an enhancement to the scene I reckon.

    I wonder what prompted that particular scene, because I really didn’t see it coming.

    Your drummer shots are excellent as well. I just didn’t have the patience to contend with the lighting. The fact I was stuck with the 50mm lens on the digital that night didn’t help either.

  2. Justin says:

    It was the first time I’d seen Blackwater Fever and they didn’t do much for me. There’s just too many bands peddling the whole Black Keys-esque two-piece thing, right down to the obligatory beards. Some bands do it really well – I’ve always been a big Mess Hall fan – but when some bands do it so well the bar is set pretty high.

    With the photo I guess I’d had the camera set at slightly better settings to get a better exposure (think it’s 800ISO, f2.8, 1/100) but also that had machine-gunned it to get a whole series of photos with the guitar in mid-air etc. Coming from film, even after 3+ years of digital it’s still so un-natural to keep my finger on the shutter button and whirr off a load of shots. Also I did crop the photo a bit (I crop everything anway as I prefer the slightly squarer format of 4×3 or 10×8 as opposed to the normal 6×4), so the original has Pete’s leg in it at the side. Couldn’t work out if the better crop had his leg in it or not, so you got the without-version.

    I think the 50mm would have been ok. I’ve been using my 24-70 loads more than ever have and it’s almost taken over from my 70-200 as my main lens at the moment. Looking at some of my recent photos I have been doing too much of using someone out of focus in the foreground whilst taking drummer photos so probably need to stop doing it so much.

    Am sure it will be back next year. Hope so as it’s a really good night and I always look forward to it.

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