Global Gathering 2008 @ Doomben Racecourse

Whilst the line-up for Global Gathering 2009 doesn’t have the same weight of performers as Parklife back in October, there is just enough on the bill to make requesting to cover it worthwhile, although in fairness if it isn’t for Kraftwerk playing I wouldn’t have been interested.

The days preceding the festival had an ominous feel to them, with black clouds and heavy storms a-plenty, and forecasts of more to come during the day. A heavy storm passes over the city just as I am about to leave, which delays my departure, but worse is to come with me just missing a train and then managing to miss the next train thanks to not noticing a late change in platform. Spending over an hour waiting for a train at Fortitude Valley train station is not the best way to start the day… The other downside to this was that it also means that I manage to miss two of the five bands that I want to photograph – The Potbelleez and The Orb.

Potbelleez were one of the few advertised ‘live’ bands, although the reviews have said that there was only two of them so I guess I don’t miss much. I haven’t seen The Orb since Glastonbury in 1992 and 1993 and am disappointed to have managed to miss them, although them playing mid-afternoon just seems a bit wrong and probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near the experience of their sunset headline shows at those Glastonburys.

Thanks to the storm and the wet weather in the lead up to the festival, there is the expected mud, but with a familiar déjà vu of this year’s V Festival from the accompanying effluent smell. And much like V Festival the punters aren’t being put off from diving and jumping in the mud, thanks to which I’m splattered in the stuff within minutes of wandering around to the main stage…

After the train debacle, the next problem is the timetable that I’d cut out from one of Brisbane’s street press publications (not the best one obviously…) which is completely wrong. The front gate has run out of timetables so have to memorise the times, not too hard considering there are only three bands left that I want to photo. 6pm rolls around and so it’s time for Gorillaz Sound System, a seemingly cynical money making-scheme trading under the Gorillaz name but seemingly having little to do with the actual band or their albums.

But in keeping with the day I haven’t got the right wristband to get into the photo pit, so it’s another trip back through the mud to the front gate to get a different coloured wristband. Only this second one isn’t the right one either… Third time lucky, but it’s now way after the first three songs and, as the tent is surprisingly full, I can’t be bothered pushing down to the front to take photos from the crowd. The running tally at this point is bands photographed = 0, bands missed = 3…

7pm comes around and finally I manage to get into a photo pit and photograph a band – Mark Ronson and The Version Players. He’s obviously got some talent as an arranger and producer and can play a bit of guitar, but even with a substantial and impressive band on stage it’s still just a glorified wedding band playing some covers.

With well over an hour to fill before Kraftwerk I have a walk around and take some social pics to pass the time. I’m always amazed at how much people want you to take their photo and also want to know where and when they’re going to be published. Gen Y are a vain lot… I should probably lay off the slow shutter sync set-up a bit and maybe take some normal portraits… It’s a bit of a hit and miss effect as well, but when it works it works well and the randomness of it does keep me entertained.

The evil money making schemes that modern day music festivals have become manifests itself further at the bar, when I find out you need to pre-purchase vouchers.  Despite just wanting a bottle of water (a rip off at $5) the lowest priced ticket is $10. Still, at least I get through my $10 of drinks vouchers during the evening, unlike the girl on the train back to the city at the end of the night who still had $70 worth of vouchers in her purse…

Much to my surprise Kraftwerk aren’t playing the main outdoor stage but are in a fairly small tent instead. What’s even more surprising is that 15 minutes before they are due to start, during Fischerspooner’s DJ set, you could probably squeeze the crowd there to see them into The Zoo.

However, there is an upside to the lack of crowd. I’m told that I can’t photograph from the photo pit and have to do it from the mixing desk at the back of the tent. Of course the laws of festival organisation mean that the mixing desk know nothing about this so I end up shoot from the crowd, with the fairly sparse numbers meaning that moving around is a painless exercise and it’s easy to get a clear view.

This is the second time I’ve seen Kraftwerk so the impact of seeing their show in the flesh isn’t quite as great as the first time. It probably also doesn’t help that the last time I saw them (back in 1998) they were supported by Mezzanine-era Massive Attack. And it was in Rio…

But it was still a really special show, one that will stay in the memeory, and not having to shoot from the pit, combined with the ease of photographing from the crowd, means that I can keep shooting for the whole of their set, a blessing in disguise as it means getting photos of the robots in the ‘The Robots’ and Kraftwerk back on stage in their UV suits for ‘Music Non-Stop’ during the encore. There is still time for one last disappointment from the day though, with Ralf Hütter doing a ‘Brian Wilson at Splendour’ and checking the time on his watch before he leaves his keyboard terminal and walks off the stage at the end of the set.

Although numbers swelled a bit by the time they started their set, by the encores it is back to a crowd size that could fit into The Zoo. It is disappointing to see such an important and seminal electronic music band play to such a small audience but apparently there’s some guy called Sasha playing some records on another stage somewhere and he’s a lot more down with the kids…

Some more photos on flickr.

Kraftwerk

Mark Ronson & The Version Players

Social Pics!!!

4 Responses to “Global Gathering 2008 @ Doomben Racecourse”

  1. Stuart says:

    The description of Kraftwerk’s small crowd is terrible! Funny thing is I would really have liked to go see Kraftwerk, if they weren’t so mismatched with the other artists on the bill for that festival!

  2. Justin says:

    I’m not sure if they did it in Brisbane but I think for Melbourne, because of low ticket sales, they reduced the price to $75, which is a good price to see someone of Kraftwerk’s stature play a 90 minute set. There were people there that had only come to see them play though and I think with Ralf Hutter being 62 now it was regarded as a (probably) last chance to see them.

    They didn’t really fit in with the rest of the bill for the festival but been told that last time they were out here they played the Boiler Room at BDO, with Underworld on before them. And when I saw them with Massive Attack in Rio it was at the Jazz Festival. So not sure what sort of festival they would best fit on, probably something like ATP these days.

  3. […] and judging by the size of the crowd, which easily dwarves that which Kraftwerk played to in Brisbane late last year, I’m amongst a large number of like-minded souls.  They provide an interesting comparison […]

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