Laughing Clowns @ GoMA

Following on from their ATP Australia shows, Laughing Clowns returned to Brisbane to play their own show as part of the Up Late season for the GoMA’s Optimism exhibition. It was another excellent performance from the band, and one that was surprisingly well attended. There probably weren’t as many people as at Wolfmother’s gig at the closing night of the Warhol exhibition last year but it was still an impressively large audience.

In the five previous times of photographing Ed Kuepper in his various guises – Pig City, Pauhaus Festival, Don’t Look Back and twice at ATP Mt Buller – I’ve never really got anything that I was happy with. He’s an infuriatingly hard subject to photograph well, as he tends to rock back and forth whilst hunched over and plays with his eyes shut. And from my experience this is usually happening in the dark and/or accompanied with plenty of smoke. Getting photos of him isn’t the problem; it’s just getting something more than the extremely ordinary and mundane.

The winning strategy, as I discover tonight, is to photograph him between songs, when he’s stood at the microphone, eyes open, arms waving and engaging with the crowd. This strategy also has the advantage of being able to watch and enjoy the gig before going into a 30 second photo mode between songs, a nice change from watching a gig through a camera viewfinder. I have used this method before, it can be very useful when photographing in dark venues as it’s easier to get a sharp image of someone at very low shutter speeds when they’re stood reasonably stationary at the microphone between songs.

As a result of using this approach, it was also one of those nights where you push the shutter release button and KNOW you’ve got a good photo; reviewing them on the LCD screen with that sense of excitement at having nailed it and the giddy anticipation for getting the photos downloaded and processed. Of course LCD screens are notoriously poor places to review photos, as it’s invariably followed by the disappointment of viewing them on a proper computer screen and realising that they’re not actually as good as they looked on the camera screen. It was no different this time, with the onscreen images not having the same saturation and glow of the photos previewed on the camera screen, but I was still happy to have finally gotten a few decent photos of Ed.

I read in his Guardian blog that Everett True had his issues with the gig though. Having seen Neil Young twice in four days after a gap of 12 years and Iron Maiden twice in a year after a gap of 17 years I can see where he’s coming from.  For me it was about not being able to replicate the excitement and enthusiasm after so many years of waiting and anticipation for the first show in such a relatively short time for the second show. Not having had the luxury of seeing Laughing Clowns back in their original glory days I’d be more than happy to see them anytime soon (although they’re only playing in Sydney and Melbourne in May) and not have to wait 23 years, where as I think I need a few years until I see Neil Young and Iron Maiden again. 

Some more photos on flickr.

4 Responses to “Laughing Clowns @ GoMA”

  1. Oh, such a fantastic show. Would see them again in a heartbeat.

  2. Justin says:

    Yeah, was really enjoyable night. They’ve got a few songs from the night up on their myspace page if you haven’t heard them yet. Shame they’re only playing Sydney and Melbourne, as with Ed off to play with the Bad Seeds over the European festival season it’s going to be a while before they’d get to play any more (if they are planning on doing it anyway; maybe it will be another 23 years…)

  3. […] ok shots.  One thing that never changes is the difficulty in getting good photos of Ben Salter; similar to Ed Kuepper he hardly ever opens his eyes.  Still, it’s really good to have the band back and in such […]

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