bands

March In Photos by Aaron Corr

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.

Full gallery here.

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.

Full gallery here.

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.

Full gallery here.

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.  

Full gallery here.

On the Friday of the week was the big gig for me.  The Moonlandingz.  They brought Goat Girl along for the tour with them.  I had just missed the opening set by Vulpynes, who were chosen by the band when they put out a call for female bands to apply to support on the tour.  

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!!

Full gallery here.

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.

Full gallery here.

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.

Full gallery here.

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.

Full gallery here.

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.

Full gallery here.

January In Photos by Aaron Corr

What a busy month this turned out to be.  The first act I was asked to shoot was Super Silly, the first of three shoots for GoldenPlec's Plec Picks 2017 I would cover.  I had all my camera & lighting gear packed, and ready to meet the guys in Temple Bar and take it from there.  When they arrived I started to get the lighting gear ready and frustratingly found that my Yongnuo flash wouldn't turn on.  It turned out a battery leaked and corroded some of the parts.  We had to do without and use what limited daylight we had.  

Time was of the essence, it was after 3:30pm in early January and it would be dark from 5pm.  We took some shots where we met, then in an alley nearby that they were interested in using and onward to three other quick locations that I wanted to use to create more variety.  My favourite is the red & white walls of Sin É on the quays.  I'd walk past the columns that front the pub from time to time and think from a certain angle they could make for a great photo with a band/solo artist.  It was tougher with four people to get the perspective exactly right so a little Photoshop was needed to fill in.  The shot of the guys from the chest up was inspired by a Anton Corbijn photo of New Order I had seen in a book of his work.

This whole shoot was done in an hour.  The band were great and willing to take more time on the shoot but any longer would have meant struggling to make a well lit portrait.  My flash being broken inadvertently led to more set ups, all of which resulted in pictures I love.

My second shoot was with up & coming urban singer/songwriter Soulé.  Her debut single on Spotify alone amassed over 178,000 listens by the time the article was posted.  The arrangement was to meet in the same area as Super Silly, but I had also seen that she had recently done a photo shoot in that area for another Irish music site, so after a little discussion I was offered to shoot the portraits in Diffusion Lab, the recording studio she would be working in that day.  

By this stage I had got my Yongnuo flash cleaned and back in action, and I had found my primary flash which I accidentally left in my work bag after Christmas.  I was primed and ready to do some strobist portraits using the studio.  There was some cool stickers/drawings on the window which I decided to try and incorporate in the first few shots.  I followed that up with some shots using a backdrop, provided by her producer.  I lit up the blank backdrop with a purple gel over the flash.  A further two set ups had Soulé pose in the vocal booth, and then by a couch with a large print behind it.  I was delighted again with the results, and to have been out of the cold for this shoot.

The first gig shoot of the year was one I couldn't wait for, Cage the Elephant with support from Declan McKenna.  I've been a fan of Declan's since seeing him on Jools Holland.  He was listed to be on at 8pm but came on at 7:45pm.  I'm glad i got there early to try meet friends, otherwise I'd have missed shooting his set, which opened with the awesome Isombard.  He played a solid 40-45 minute set which is impressive for a new act in a support slot.  I'm looking forward to his album and whenever he has time in his busy schedule to eventually come back and do a headline show.

The only I caught Cage the Elephant live was when they supported Foals in the Olympia.  Foals wanted the last three songs snapped by photographers so I had to leave after shooting three songs of Cage and wait in the lobby until the end of Foals set.  I didn't know them well at the time but I was dying to stay.  On this night in the Academy they were superb.  I can't say anyone was going home with a bad word to say about the show, they were on fire.  Matthew Shultz is a fantastic front man and possibly the best front man I've shot so far.  He gives you some great opportunities for a great shot.  I felt bad for the rest of the band as he leaves you mesmerized and not wanting to miss another moment of action from him.

The rest of the show was a great example of missing out by not being able to take pictures later at a gig.  There was crowd surfing, standing and signing on the shoulders of the crowd, jumping from the drums and falling to the stage while still singing.  It was one hell of a show and it is the one that has to be beaten this year.  They've just been announced for NOS Alive in Lisbon so I'll be seeing them again this Summer.

My next shoot was of the band Beach for The Thin Air's 17 for '17.  I had a day off work for an appointment with the dentist that morning and I got dosed with plenty of anaesthetic for the procedure.   The shoot had to happen around one of the lads lunch break from work.  The pressure of limited time, coupled with my face feeling numb, and like it was swollen was not a cool buzz to do a shoot with.  I was genuinely struggling to think of where to use for a central location that wouldn't be too busy with people, given it was lunch time in a lively part of the city.  My head was not with it.  

We strolled over behind Whelans to see what it'd be like to shoot in the little, walled off garden area behind it.  We tried a few things, I wasn't crazy about the results, the band thought it looked a bit too boy band for the first few shots.  We meandered around some more and then went into The Camden Exchange and asked to use their closed smoking area.  The band joked around with the flowers and watering can, and this was what we liked the most when reviewing the photos after we were done.  They wanted the photo for the piece to show they weren't super serious all the time. 

The same night as having been to the dentist and doing the Beach shoot, I went to cover the Martha Wainwright gig in Vicar St.  My face was no longer numb and I felt better, and far less pressure than the earlier shoot.  It was a fully seated gig so I wandered around the crowd taking shots from afar, trying not to disturb or get the way of paying punters.  The most memorable part of the shoot was Martha forgetting how one of her new songs went and stopping the band in their tracks as she tried to remember how it went.

Pleasure Beach supported Bell X1 in the Olympia.  It was a case of low lights, red lights and uninspiring results.  They arrived on stage in the dark and the singer immediately went to the front of the stage to greet the crowd, guitar held in the air, not a light in sight.  It would have made a nice shot.  

Bell X1 was a similarly frustrating affair.  Lots of annoying blues, a light under singer, Paul Noonan, that cast a shadow on the microphone up his face for many shots that managed to focus properly.  The surrounding band members were very much in the shadows so it was definitely a case of the Paul Noonan show, as it was barely worth trying to snap the other band members.  

My final Plec Picks shoot was with Fangclub.  It was to be done on a weeknight and the weather wasn't looking good for the chosen night during the planning stage, so I paniced to find an indoor location I could use that would suit.  It was tough.  I settled on reserving the downstairs in one of my local pubs, The Black Sheep.  I was told it would be empty but when we all arrived there was a bunch of people dotted around the place, getting away from the busy upstairs bar.  The walls were plastered with craft beer logos which wouldn't have been a good look so I opted to use the blank walls by the stairwell.  As the feature interview took place I set up my strobist gear, starting with a gelled flash to light up the backdrop.

The corner of the stairwell was the darkest part of that area and worked the best, so I got Kevin, Dara and Steven to squeeze in and pose.  With the interview over I asked Bernard, from team GP, to hold the flash & softbox overhead as I snapped as it was easier than using the tripod, and keeping it stable on the step.  I tried a red gel for some additional shots before moving the guys out on to the street since the rain had stayed away.  I switched to the telephoto lens in order to try get a bokeh effect with the lights at the end of Capel St.    

During the final set up the cold was beginning to get to us so we finished up after a few shots there.  The biggest obstacle in post processing was editing the corner of the wall that was behind the guys.  Making the colour blend was the frustrating part.  It seemed like it would be an easy job at the time of shooting but it was a bit time consuming and headache inducing.  Overall it was another shoot I was satisfied with and brought to a close a busy January.

December Gigs by Aaron Corr

Super Furry Animals

Super Furry Animals

Super Furry Animals made their long awaited return to Dublin to play Fuzzy Logic and Radiator in full in the Olympia Theatre.  They've been sorely missed and seeing them back on the stage was one of the brightest musical moments of a dark 2016.  I was covering it for The Thin Air.They came on to a smoky stage in their white laboratory jumpsuits and blasted into God! Show Me Magic.  From the pit we had some elements to battle, the smoke, the low lights and harsh lights and how they reflected off the jumpsuits.  Fuzzy Birds brought with it some deep blues on stage.  The one element that was hardest to catch was when they'd hold up a sign for "Side One" or "Applause" as they'd never light the stage in between songs, along with the animal stage props to the right hand side by Bunf.  With a brighter stage it would have been great to have caught all elements of their show better.

The rules for the show were a little different in that photographers could shoot the last two songs as well as the first three.  This meant we got to catch the band in their Yeti outfits.  The lights still didn't get any better but there was flashes of house lights on stage as the band wrapped up The Man Don't Give a Fuck.  These moments were my favourite in trying to capture the band at their most fun.  Great gig, great albums, great band.  

Teenage Fanclub

Teenage Fanclub

Teenage Fanclub turned out to be my final gig of the year.  I had my name in the hat for Red Hot Chili Peppers in the 3Arena but I took my name out the day before after deciding to see Rogue One for a second time in IMAX 3D.  The following day they cancelled their Dublin dates so it was never going to be.    

The last time I saw them was in Dolans on their Greatest Hits tour, and I felt really young in the crowd then.  It wasn't that feeling this time around unfortunately but the band haven't lost anything over the years, especially their harmonies.  The lights were pretty consistent and the band well lit which made for an easy shoot.  The tighter Academy pit with five photographers getting in and around each other was the only obstacle, however there were some late comers who didn't make the first two as the band were on that little bit earlier than listed.  There's no amazing shots in the set but for the most part it was a well lit, easy shooting experience.

Guns 'n Roses Slane Press Launch

Guns 'n Roses Slane Press Launch

I did my first press launch for a major gig announcement.  The rumour mill was big that this would be Guns 'n Roses, would it be Croke Park, would it be Slane?  Maybe it was something completely different.  Either way I knew it would be big so I put my hand up to attend for GoldenPlec and see what came of it.  The GnR hunch was right and a few of us there were giddy at the thoughts of a band member being there in secret to announce it and give us an amazing photo opp but it wasn't to be.  Lord Henry Mountcharles offspring were there to announce it an pose for the photos.  There was a lot of media there and experts at pushing people aside and shouting for them to look their way.  It was a bit of a cattle mart and a little outside my comfort zone but still worth doing.

Click any picture to see the full gallery.

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