March was one of the busiest months I’ve had in quite a while. Make hay while the sun shines and while the music is good. I started with Hamilton Laithauser (minus Rostam, ex-Vampire Weekend, who he had made his new album with) in Workmans Club. I’d seen the Walkmen a few times before but I never realized how tall he was, it took me by surprise as he came out and towered over the small stage in Workos. It was an hour set and was brilliant from start to finish. I’ve always loved his voice in The Walkmen, and his solo songs were a lot more personable, and laced with a bit more story, given a humorous background preceding them. I made sure to get a vinyl signed by him after the show as he drank a pint of Guinness.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats were on town before St Paddy's Day to play the Jameson Bow Street Sessions in the Academy for competition winners. The night before they played a private acoustic gig, streamed live on YouTube and other sites, in the newly refurbished distillery. GoldenPlec had the chance to interview him and have some behind the scenes photos taken. I had asked if this brief opportunity would afford me the chance to take a proper portrait but it was just to be for BTS shots, so I left additional flash gear at home and shot with the natural light in the room.
He was a cool and charming guy. It was nice to mingle with him and the band after the show. I had won a Jameson prize last year which still was reaping me benefits this year, so as a result of that I was on the list to go see him do his proper show the next night. They were fantastic, full of enthusiasm and great stage presence from everyone on stage.
When I saw that Rick Astley had sold out the Olympia and that the job was for the taking at GoldenPlec I knew I should do it for the craic. It’s become a funny talking point in chats with friends since, everyone asks “well, how was the tune live?” but unfortunately I opted not to stay since I had 8 gigs to shoot in 2 weeks and many of the others were gigs I would be staying for the full show. I did hear one hit song of his in my three song shoot so I was happy with that.
It was a busy photo pit. Light wise he was very well lit, as you would hope and expect. The frustrating part is that the rest of the stage can’t be accounted for in many shots otherwise I’d risk over-exposing his face. Rick was the man of the evening so the camera settings had to be dictated by how he was lit, therefore the rest is underexposed. He moved around a lot, making sure to cover all sides of the crowd. Once I’d many a nice shot set up he’d move on quite fast. Still, it was a fun one to shoot and it’s good to see him enjoying it so long after his initial fame.
Ride came to the Olympia Theatre the night after Rick. I've never, ever listened to them, but I decided to do it given the hullabaloo about them reforming and talk from folk online being very excited for them at previous festivals I'd been to. It was a busy photo pit again that night, many of whom were big fans of the band. As the pictures prove, there was lots of purple and blue lights (a pain to post process when over-saturated). Again, because I had a busy weekend ahead of me I decided not to stay on for more of the gig. The time it can take to edit would mean I'd be behind before the weekend begins if I don't crack on and begin that night.
I was looking forward to The Moonlandingz show since it was announced. Fat White Family played Whelans the year before and it was one of, if not, my gig of year. It was mayhem, it was a gig that stands out from everything else and this was my hopes for Lias Saoudi's other project, and I was not disappointed. They opened with three of their biggest songs, the type that you would have expected nearer the end of any other band's show. Immediately the crowd was going nuts for them. From a shooting perspective (I didn't shoot the FWF gig) it seemed a bit easier of a shoot than the Fat White's show but it was still mayhem and a mad experience at the front of the crowd, with no photo pit, and battling against the current as everyone moshed. The lights were consistent, the only time I'd change settings was when Lias jumped into the crowd.
Lias, or Johnny Rocket as he is known in this venture, was wrapped in cling film, with a roll of kitchen paper tucked inside, smeared with oil/Vaseline and black painted eyebrows. He writhed around on stage, jumped into the crowd, crawled around the stage and clung to Rebecca Lucy Taylor during their duet on the Strangle of Anna. It was a spectacle and another gig the likes of which you rarely see these days. If you've not seen them yet, then what are you waiting for? Go!!
I had the desire to shoot Austra again in the Button Factory but I hadn't got around to sorting it out versus just going as a punter. The day before the show I got asked to cover it for The Thin Air so the stars aligned perfectly. I love this band and Katie Stelmanis' voice. Exhausted from The Moonlandingz show and the late night that followed, and armed with a fractured finger from the night, I again faced no photo pit and a squeeze through the crowd to shoot the band. I unfortunately missed the support from Pixx, which looked like a great set to shoot.
The Sunday of the weekend left no rest for the wicked but at least a more chilled affair to shoot. Warpaint in Vicar Street with support from Æ MAK. I'd yet to see them live, so when I saw their name last minute as support I legged it from my apartment to the venue to be there on time. The duo who front the band danced their way in sync through each song and provided some cool shots in the process.
I last shot Warpaint from the aisles of the National Concert Hall last year, so now I got to get up close to shoot from the pit (finally a pit this weekend!!) for The Thin Air. The lighting conditions were not as ideal as the last time, heavy, low lit blues, purples and smoke drenched the stage. The harsh colours washed over most of the shots that it made editing another nightmare to get through. The band had some fairy lights draped over potted plants behind them, which would have made a nice background, however this had limited effect in the results. The band were great and wound down my weekend perfectly over a pint, watching from the balcony.
Before I had time to get too settled on the couch after work on a Monday evening I had to get back out there and cover the Car Seat Headrest gig in The Academy. Traams were the support and played a blinder. The three song shoot was a lengthy one due to how long their songs went. I ended up with far more photos than I typically do for a support act, mainly because they were cool to shoot. I far prefer these results to the headliner's shots.
Car Seat Headrest came on to a dimly lit, and more smoke filled stage than what had preceded them and kicked straight into it. The guitarist was the most interesting band member to shoot on stage but he was in a shadow a lot of the time. It wasn't too bad a shoot overall but I don't think anything really pops out for me. As the gig drew on and I took to the balcony to watch, they kept breaking strings and having to swap guitars and re-string where they could. It still made for a good gig.
After a day's rest from shooting I got back to it for Stormzy in the Olympia Theatre. I had no idea what to expect since he had not toured in six months and this was his first show back in action. The crowd was very young and chanting ahead of him taking to the stage. Annie MAc was in the balcony to watch the show. The anticipation was huge.
As he took to the stage and kicked into it, he would stride across the stage in the dark, dim reds and blues barely lighting him. It was panic stations in the photo pit. Thank god for the few minutes he took to chat to the crowd in between the second and third song. This was where we could snap away while he was lit. The third song thankfully had better lighting and provided some further shots of him in action. Overall it was not the easiest of shoots and I did think I came out with nothing to show from it.
The final gig of March was going to be a belter of show. Run the Jewels with support by The Gaslamp Killer, once again in the Olympia Theatre. It was hard to judge when the three song shoot would be over, I shot and left within five minutes. Although he was cool to shoot, there is still not much variety in shooting a DJ.
Run the Jewels were epic. It sold out in no time and the venue was buzzing. Killer Mike and El-P were brilliant to shoot, they barely stop moving on stage but at least when one passes you by, the other isn't far away. The lights were definitely not of the Stormzy variety which was a relief. The pit was busy with photographers once more, but this time the band had a videographer shooting with a unit to steady the camera, which proved another obstacle to avoid.
I leave a busy March to have a quiet April. It's been a busy month with personal stuff and I'm planning a big trip with work that I'm morphing into a holiday in which I will be gone for 15 days, my longest trip away ever I'd say. So with that I may be quiet for a little while but on my return I hope to bombard the blog with pictures from Orlando, Miami and the Bahamas. Until next time, adios.