Splendour In The Grass 2009 – Part 5

MGMT were really shocking when they played at The Tivoli at the end of last year; really terrible and disinterested, a band that had obviously spent far too long on the road. But in seemingly typical style the Splendour organisers obviously waited to see what songs were towards the top reaches of Triple J’s Hottest 100 in January and started seeing who was available to play at their festival. So, have a few months away from the rigours of touring and working on new songs reinvigorated the band? In a word, no. In a few more words, fuck me MGMT you really are the world’s dullest band. With time and key changes, the third song they play sounds like bad 1970’s prog rock but they then play ‘Electric Feel’, with ‘Time To Pretend‘ following straight after, which causes complete pandemonium in the crowd and plenty of people outside the D-ring jumping over the fence whilst security looks on disinterested. All-in-all it’s a thoroughly depressing experience.

I have a mostly love/hate relationship with hip-hop; I mostly hate the music and yet I love the challenge of trying to photograph it. Constantly moving and with microphones held close against their mouths it’s one of the hardest, if not the hardest genres to photograph well, especially when the lighting is less than great. And so while I will always struggle to say anything good about Hilltop Hoods’ music, tonight it’s actually kind of fun to photograph, even though it’s just two guys walking from one side of the stage to the other whilst shouting.

Photographing The Flaming Lips from the best seat in the house is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had when it comes of photographing bands. It’s complete sensory overload to the point where all you can do is stand there and admire the sheet bedlam with a big smile on your face and at times that’s all you can do as with all the confetti, streamers and bouncing balls it’s impossible to line up clear shots. A misunderstanding from the PR means I don’t make the best use of the opportunity. Having been told “first song, pick a side” I take it that we’re going to get kicked out after the first song so concentrate on trying to get photos of Wayne Coyne as he rolls around on top the audience in his inflatable ball instead of maybe thinking about moving out along the photo pit to get some wider angle shots. And then, with Coyne back on stage and the song ending, I move to the side and start packing up, only then noticing that no one else has moved so move coyly back towards the stage, but always looking over my shoulder for an irate PR rep to turn up and start physically removing photographers from the pit.  It’s a shame as I don’t move into a good position to get a good angle for Coyne singing whilst perched on the shoulders of someone dressed up in a gorilla outfit, although by the third song I am confident enough to realise that I must have misunderstood the instructions and to move around the stage a bit more.

Afterwards I can’t stop thinking that I might as well give up photography because how is anything ever going to compete with being in the photo pit for 25 minutes of the Flaming Lips. How can I go from THAT to a show at The Troubadour or The Zoo? It’s a very sobering thought and one that I’m not sure I’ve answered yet having done a few small club shows around Brisbane since Splendour.  There’s always next time, I guess. 

All of the Splendour 2009 photographs are on Flickr and the individual band sets are in the following links:

Flaming Lips
Hilltop Hoods

One Response to “Splendour In The Grass 2009 – Part 5”

  1. Jerry says:

    Dude, don’t get seduced by the bright lights of the big show.

Leave a Reply

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