Irish music

May Photos by Aaron Corr

Slow Riot

Slow Riot

May began with two Limerick bands playing The Grand Social.  GoldenPlec sent me to cover London based Whenyoung's first Dublin headline show, but first up on the night was Slow Riot.  

Whenyoung

Whenyoung

Whenyoung took to the stage with quiet confidence and belted out great tune after great tune.  They would later find themselves invited onto the support slot to Nick Cave and Patti Smith in Kilmainham the next month, which is high praise.  They are making great buzz for themselves so the coming year should hold big things for them.

Full gallery.

Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher

Last year I photographed Liam, and this year I complete the Oasis set with Noel Gallagher in 3Arena for The Thin Air.  Photographers were restricted to one side of the stage at a time, no shooting from the center areas.  I was delighted when he raised the guitar like a rifle and aimed it at me for a posed shot.  He would do something quirky like this if the right photographer caught his eye at the right time, like sticking his tongue out for another.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs finally made a return to Ireland, where they've only played a handful of times in the Republic and never their own headline show since they've become ever more popular.  This night was a double headline show with Beck.  Covering their show for The Thin Air was a massive highlight.  When I arrived at the Arena I was only approved to shoot them, the Beck pass only got confirmed while I was there.

Karen O, as expected, was a legend to shoot.  She wore unique designed clothes and stalked the stage being all kinds of cool.  Brian Chase behind the drums looked like he was having a whale of a time, looking like the happiest drummer on the world I heard someone remark after.  Nick Zinner was just quietly cool to the right, letting the guitar do the talking.  

Full gallery.

Beck

Beck

Beck's pass arrived just before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs shoot, it was to be shot from the soundboard and a contract needed to be signed.  It literally signs away the rights to the photos which I hated to sign, but I knew in all fairness none of his reps are going to be chasing any of us down to get hi-res copies of a photo(s) taken from a soundboard for promo use.  He arrived very late to the stage, due to production delays I presume, and as a result went past curfew to play the same length of a set as YYYs.  He opened with a storming three song intro and the lights were great given how far back I was shooting.  

Pip Blom

Pip Blom

The Thin Air kept me busy in May with The Breeders rescheduled show in Vicar Street, with no storm Ophelia to stop them this time.  Amsterdam band Pip Blom opened up that evening and were a great support.  I look forward to hopefully catching them again.

The Breeders

The Breeders

The Breeders looked delighted to make it back to Dublin after being primed for their last gig but red weather alerts causing everything in the city and country that day to be cancelled.  The lights were quickly lowered and a smokey haze filled the stage, much like the last time I shot them here.  In the brief time between songs the light was at it's best and that's where I managed to snap Kim Deal with a big smile to the crowd as she bantered with them.  This was the type of shot I wanted to get from photographing her.   

Full gallery.

Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman

It had been a while since I was in the Tivoli.  I put my name down with GoldenPlec to cover Ezra Furman's gig there.  Although my name was on the door to shoot, there was no photopass which caused a little bit of annoyance and confusion with security in the venue, even though there was no pit for photographers.  

Full gallery.

Erica Cody: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

Erica Cody was the second shoot I did for this year’s Plec Picks for GoldenPlec.  We met up one Saturday afternoon in December to do our shoot around the city centre.  We began in Smithfield with a graffiti’d wall that Erica had in mind for the shoot.  The sun shone very bright down the alley way, which took away any need to set up a flash.  Erica’s boyfriend was there to give a hand holding a reflector, to bounce back some light to the right side of her face in the above photo.    After a few shots and poses we moved on towards the Tivoli Car Park to make use of it.

I used to worry that taking photo around the Tivoli car park would seem cliché but it’s such a deadly place to use.  I’m glad I held off until now as Erica is a great personality to photograph against its backdrop.  We started with a few shots of her sitting on a wall of the car park.  The shot above makes it appear like the graffiti lightning is coming from her fingers which was a fun touch. 

We moved over towards the back wall and shot a variety of poses, this time with the flash/soft-box set up.  The final round of shots took place over by the smoking area of the Tivoli Theatre, where there are a load of picnic tables set up.  The same flash set up was used again.  I read this week that the Tivoli complex is to be knocked down, including all the graffiti except that it had to be preserved in photographic form.  I'm now glad I didn't leave shooting here pass me by, because very soon it will be gone.  It will be missed.

Click to read the Plec Picks feature, and click here for gallery.

Fangclub: Album Launch in Tower Records by Aaron Corr

Fangclub

The Thin Air sent me to cover Fangclub's album launch in Tower Records, where the band were performing an acoustic instore before a signing session.  I had hoped to have a quick catch up with the guys since I'd last worked with them at their Whelans headline show for an AAA piece but I arrived just on time to catch the set, and afterwards they were knee deep in signing records and I had to run.  I'm looking forward to asking them all about how their Pixies support slot went since I missed that show because I was in Lisbon.  I know... life is tough.

February In Photos by Aaron Corr

I began February with an Access All Areas for Fangclub's headline show in Whelans for GoldenPlec.  An AAA shoot involves a lot of hanging around while the band loads in, sound checks and hang out backstage.  It's always in the back of my head to keep out of the way as much as possible and give everyone their space to get on with their jobs, and not be in their face too much when it comes to down time backstage.  

I headed in just after the band loaded in and would snap away as they got the stage set up and sound-checked.  The lights on stage were looking impressive and there was a neat backdrop, both of which are rarities to see in a Whelans show.   For backstage shots I tried to use flash as little as possible.  The shot above of Steven and Kev on the couch was one of the only shots I used a flash for pre-gig.

The show itself was heavy on strobes, low lights and harsh red/purple lights.  It was the trickiest part of the shoot funnily enough, given the earlier light tests provided some cool shots.  The lights were now a trickier affair to get the band in the right light at the right time.  I made sure to make my way to the back of the stage to catch Steven crowd surfing during the final song.  I was very tempted to run out to the front of the stage to get a closer shot but as it is a small stage I didn't want to risk being in the way as he was thrust back on to it.  After the gig I finished the AAA with a shot of the three guys ready for some post-gig celebrations.

Sometimes there are gigs you get landed with on the day, the original photographer can't make it for one reason or another so you step in to help out.  Leading up to this show I had thought "Band of Horses would be an alright show to shoot", so luck was on my side courtesy of The Thin Air.  Vicar Street is a 5-10 minute walk from my apartment so I made my way up in good time before the band would take to the stage.  The lights beforehand were great looking but by the time they came on they took a dull turn and the smoke machine was turned on.  This turned it into a tougher shoot than I'd expected it to be but there are some shots that came from this that I'm delighted with, particularly of Ben Bridwell screaming into the microphone while the drummer's hair is swinging in the air behind him.  The first song is where the majority of my shots came from, the other two songs were pretty useless for lighting and a waste to shoot.

The Divine Comedy was a Sunday night gig.  I was in one of those lazy, hungover moods where it felt like a drag to have to go from the couch, walk the cold quays at night and make my way to Bord Gais Energy Theatre to shoot a show.  It was worth it though.  The venue restricts photographers to shoot from the side so the variety of shots is minimal which is a shame.  What made it worthwhile were the two spare seats that were beside me and another photographer as we shot the gig, so we sat down and enjoyed the set after the three song shoot.  I had no notions of staying since it's an all seated show and not something you can just blend into a crowd when done like other shows.  The set provided loads of nostalgic moments with songs I hadn't listened to in years.  

Girlfriend Photoshoot by Aaron Corr

The Thin Air asked me to do a photo-shoot with the band Girlfriend for issue 15 of the magazine.  They are mainly based in Bettystown which is just under an hour's drive from Dublin.  Ahead of time they filled me in on potential locations about the town that we could use for the shoot, and given I was going to be travelling a small distance I figured we could take our time and do a few more set ups than a shoot like this usually needed.  This was their first band photo-shoot so it was a good way for them to get used to the process.  The only downside was that all four members wouldn't be present as their drummer, Lahela, was in the USA on a J-1.  I asked them to think about a way we could possibly represent her in a few photos.

The Saturday that I drove to meet them was one of the hotter and sunnier days we'd had all Summer.  I drove past nearby beaches to find my way to the seaside town and met Hana, Lisa & Sophie outside the local arcade.  I was excited at the prospect of shooting inside it but I couldn't let the good weather go to waste first so we set up near one of the abandoned buildings nearby as they had suggested to start with.  They chose to represent Lahela with a balloon and taped a picture of her to it.  The breeze tended to get the better of the balloon so we would abandon the idea after we tried a few shots with it.

We moved from one unused building to another across the road which had graffiti on the door that said "death is around every corner".  This was a nice touch and something they felt would be apt, however the sun was directly in the girl's faces causing them to squint in many of the shots.  I didn't like how the shots were framed based on my limited vantage points in trying to fit the girls & graffiti in frame so I abandoned this set up to go around the back of the building and try something there. 

At the back there was more graffiti on doors, and the walls were covered in leaves.  I opted for the latter, mainly due to the fact that parked cars blocked half the building.  With the girls now in a little bit of shadow I used a fill flash, hand held off the camera and covered with a lumiquest softbox ltp.  I had brought a tripod and large softbox but kept them in the car until I felt I would need them, they never made an appearance.  By this stage I was ready to go try out the amusement arcade.

We browsed the arcade to see what was cool and what they'd be comfortable with posing in front of while the general public passed by.  The first stop was at the slot machines.  I held the flash off camera again, this time with no softbox.  Behind me were more machines so this was the widest I could go for this shot.  Sophie, on the right, was the hardest to keep lit as I held the flash aloft with my left hand but struggled to get an even spread of light.  I fixed this is post processing (frustratingly since shooting at Hell & Back not long before this shoot I forgot to revert my files to shoot in RAW, so my editing was quite restricted).  I have mixed feelings with the result as I wanted to get more ambient light from the machines mixed with the fill flash but I would have needed to give myself more time, and with paying punters walking by I didn't want to linger on too long in one place.

The next shot was simpler and more effective.  Using the lights of the pool hall and nearby machines I shot the girls in this neon light without any flash.  The main issue was the people playing pool in the background, but ultimately I found they proved no distraction in the end result.

Possibly my favourite shot of the day came from using the neon lights in the seated area of the bowling alley.  The effect comes across a little like that the girls are in a diner, and I love how they each look in the above shot.  I tried this from a few angles but having caught this shot in the first few frames, I knew I wouldn't beat it.

We'd got to the point where we wanted to use parts of the arcade that we'd better get approval on.  Having scoped out the place on arrival two areas had stood out, the bumper cars and this shooting game, complete with cartoonish background & characters.  Management gave me the go ahead so I gave the girls the nod to hop the barrier and enter the scene.  What we hadn't accounted for was the amount of dust on the floorboards and the height restriction.  I stood outside and again used the natural light of the game for the above shot.  I couldn't quite get the full skull in the picture while keeping in the sign above the game.  If I went any wider the gun station at the front would be in the way and be an unnecessary distraction.  The girls kneeled and sat down on the floorboards for the most part for these shots, getting covered in years old dust in the process.  My apologies ladies.

For the finale we made our way to the bumper cars and made sure they were not in use and that there was no queue.  We ended up asking a young girl at the entrance if we could use it for a few minutes, not realising she was just a passing kid and not an underage, underpaid staff member.  Again we got official approval to gain access and use the area.  What drew me to it were the mirrored walls of light that would flicker on/off and in different patterns.  We tried once more to use the balloon but it was not staying afloat and would turn the wrong way.  It was kicked to the side for a final time.  I had some cool wide shots of the girls in the whole bumper car space but I wasn't a fan of how the balloon looked in those pictures that I never gave it a full edit.  In my rush to get good use of the space I forgot to take a version of the shot without it.

I alternated between using the fill flash, and using just the lights from the wall to get a natural result I was pleased with.  The above image is what appeared in the magazine in the end.  Afterwards we sat with a drink in the diner, looking back over the results to make sure we all liked what we had taken.  Overall this turned out to be one of the best & most fun shoots I've run so far.  The band were great company and fun to work with.  I'm sure I'll run into them again some time in the future and catch them live.   

Equipment used:

July Gigs - Popicalia Returns by Aaron Corr

July was another quiet month for me shooting gigs.  I took a week off work at the start of the month to travel some of the Wild Atlantic Way which I'll blog about in another post, but he rest of the month seemed to just be more festivals.  Festivals I wasn't attending as sad as that is.  One gig I had on my radar to cover for The Thin Air was Popicalia Returns, the 22nd Popicalia gig after an absence of  2 1/2 years, featuring Squarehead, Land Lovers & Ginnels.  I'll not rehash what was said in the review so you can click here to have a read of that.  It was my first time in Bello Bar so I was glad for a change of scenery from my usual haunts.  

Click the any image to see the full gallery.

Non photo related, I ventured over to Leeds to see The Cribs in Leeds Millennium Square.  Danny Payne has great coverage of that gig that I'm very jealous of.  It was an epic gig, with support from local acts plus... Thurston Moore!!  Other gigs I  went to but didn't shoot were Pixies in Iveagh Gardends & Longitude.  I headed along the Sunday to see Christine & the Queens, Kurt Vile and The National.  Christine is someone I have to try photograph when she returns.

Ginnels

Ginnels

Land Lovers

Land Lovers

Squarehead

Squarehead