Sarah Blasko + Seja @ QPAC, 21.10.2010

Despite living in Brisbane for more than five years (at the time) I’d never even been to a gig at QPAC’s main auditorium, let alone photographed anything there. Having done it once (and not since almost a year later) it’s not somewhere I would be too excited about going back to in either capacity.

Based on a seeing and photographing a single gig there, the trouble with the venue is that it’s just far too imposing and too sterile an environment for a ‘rock’ show. While I could see it working for a classical or choral performance, I just think it’s not cut out for more contemporary shows.

The daunting nature of the venue is clearly evident on both the audience and the performers tonight. The fact that it’s all seated and all the seats are laid out in long rows stretching from one side all away to the other means a distinct lack of audience atmosphere and a noticeable uncomfortableness from people not used to this environment when seeing live music. This is compounded by the cavernous, cathedral-like chamber, which doesn’t get filled from the sound coming from the stage and instead only amplifies any sound from the crowd. Even when walking around from one side to the other while photographing both acts I’m more than conscious of the sound of my own footsteps reverberating around the room.  It’s not something I’m used to or was expecting giving that there are musicians playing on stage and music coming out of speakers at what should be a reasonable volume.  It’s clear that the quiet nature of the show is causing a muted response and reaction from the crowd during the two acts, making everyone self-conscious about making any noise during each set.

The scale of the venue also imposes itself on both acts, less so for Sarah Blasko but she’s probably more used to playing bigger spaces than Seja, but there’s still a clear awkwardness, particularly in the gaps between songs, with the lack of atmosphere and the muted audience reaction meaning that after a smattering of polite applause there’s just silence emanating back from the crowd.  Neither acts look completely comfortable in their surroundings.

Photographing at QPAC isn’t a great experience either, with having to photograph from the aisles at the side meaning being so far away from the action on stage that not even a large zoom lens helps in getting anything that doesn’t look like a wide angled shot.

At the end of the night Sarah Blasko gets a standing ovation from the crowd, which strikes me as really odd as I didn’t think it was that good. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, despite all the issues with the cathedral-like QPAC space, but just not worthy of a standing ovation. I’m not sure if I missed something or whether the audience needed to make some united stand to show that they had had a great night out for their somewhat really pricey $75 per ticket. About six weeks after the QPAC show I go and see Sarah Blasko play a small club show in Paris in front of maybe 250 people for less than $25 and it’s a far superior show; an intimate venue, a real atmosphere with banter going both ways between the audience and Blasko, stunning sound, and all over by 10:15pm on a Saturday night.

But based on my first experience of QPAC, I’m in no hurry to get back to see or photograph a show there.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.