Texas Tea + The Gin Club + The Madisons + James X. Boyd & The Boydoids @ The Zoo, 26.10.2012

They’re far too few and far between in my book, but Texas Tea album launches are always a highlight of any year. I can’t believe it’s been four years since the last one. Where did the time go? They’re a highlight not only because they see the official release of a new set of songs to add to the band’s canon but they always make a special effort to make it more of an event, with a high quality support bill and having guests join them on stage for a song or two.

Tonight’s three band supporting cast boasts another Velociraptor side project in the shape James X Boyd & The Boydoids, The Madisons and The Gin Club unusually playing second fiddle to the headliners.

When the show was originally announced it was James X Boyd and The CEOs. Two things: Firstly I’m not sure if the band name change marks a change in personnel or whether early days means the name wasn’t settled on. Secondly I don’t know if the “X” really stands for anything or not. My email address is based on my first ever university login from the early 1990s and has an “X” as I didn’t include a middle initial when I filled in the form. A few years later a female friend did likewise but then tried to convince people that it was really because her middle name was Xena. But anyway, the change of band name to one that tips a hat to The Voidoids gives an indication of what to expect, with the band having a rawer 1970s sound compared to the more 60s sounding Velociraptor. Although there’s some nice playing, some nice flourishes, the melodies aren’t as infectious and don’t pull you in as quickly as the more established act.

Even in a music scene as small as Brisbane, it’s far too easy to miss bands. There’s a whole host of acts that I keep meaning to getting around to seeing but time and again, for one reason or another, I keep missing. The Madisons played at last year’s MereNoise Meltdown but played early before I’d got there. Watching them play tonight this was a serious oversight as within minutes they become my favourite new Brisbane band. They’re one of those bands (a lot like Texas Tea) who you see for the first time and can’t be sure whether they’ve played a set of largely obscure covers or just have written a set of really amazing songs of their own. Googling the band afterwards I find they’ve been playing shows for almost 18 months and had a residency at Black Bear Lodge a couple of months back. I just can’t believe I’ve never seen them before and that they’ve flown under the radar as much as they have. If Brisbane had anything approaching a decent music press, they would be writing about them all the time. They play a show the following Friday after the Texas Tea support so I start making up for lost time straight away. [Although I have a camera at that show I decide not to photograph them, I’m not quite sure why. I guess I just wanted to enjoy seeing them without the distractions of photographing it]

Watching The Gin Club set up, there’s no sign of the now Melbourne-based Ben Salter. Taking his time, running late, getting others to set up his gear? When the band start the reason for the lack of Ben Salter setting up his gear is that he’s not playing tonight. The band note that it’s the first time they’ve played with this lineup and after all of these years, it’s a really strange sight.  However, from a musical point of view, it doesn’t make a big difference and the collective shows the strength and depth of its talents even without their frontman.  It’s also a rare show with Ola Karlsson in the line-up, which brings a couple of long-missed highlights from the Junk album in the shape of Company Kept and Abigail.

When you’ve photographed a band a lot, it’s often on your mind how you approach photographing them again.  You don’t want to always take the same bunch of photos, you want to provide some variety even if it’s just to provide a challenge to yourself to keep you interested and allow you to experiment.  It’s always a lot easier when you don’t have the pressures of not needing to provide the photos to anyone and you’re just doing it for your own enjoyment.  In the lead-up to the show I had been mulling over how to tackle this latest Texas Tea show, but in the end the lighting on the night made up my mind for me.  The lighting at The Zoo is usually quite good but with the band’s management working the lighting desk it was better than usual, and, to be honest, probably too good.  Most of the photos I take at The Zoo tend to be around 1/80 or 1/100.  With the bright lights on offer tonight I decided that I wouldn’t drop the ISO from 1600 but instead would ramp up the shutter speed to try to isolate the subjects and have very sudden drop off into the blackness of the shadows.  Really happy with the set of photos I ended up with and it was hard to cull the numbers down to a reasonable/sensible number for the gallery to accompany this post.

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