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Gruff Rhys: Button Factory by Aaron Corr

Gruff Rhys is one of the most laid back, and charming frontmen His dry wit, and long sentences that take an forever to get out add to the enjoyment of seeing him live. He played two sets on this tour, with a full band rather than solo. The first set was the full Babelsberg album, the second set was a bunch of his past solo material.

Lighting wise it was very, very low, and consistently so. The ISO was turned up very high and shutter speeds as slow as I could manage. The shooting angles were also very limited since Gruff had two microphone stands in front of him. If you venture beyond the left side of Gruff to photograph him then you couldn’t see his face. From that same point if you wanted to catch Kliph Scurlock, ex Flaming Lips drummer, then his cymbals got in the way of snapping him in the darkness. So all the angles are pretty much the same, except for one from the balcony taken during the second set.

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Pip Blom: Whelans Upstairs by Aaron Corr

I first caught Pip Blom earlier in the year supporting The Breeders earlier in the year in Vicar Street, and thought they were a deadly band. 8Radio championed them after that point so they kept in my mind, and I kept up to speed with what they were up to and awaited another Irish show. This finally came with one of the final dates of their own European tour.

Shrug Life

Shrug Life

Support on the night came from Shrug Life. Normally a three piece, this time Danny Carroll performing solo, and then a portion of the set with backing vocals by Naoise Roo.

Initially it looked like it would be a case of loud band playing to quiet crowd but people soon relaxed and got really into it. There may not have been moshing, but there was dancing by some, and enthusiasm with the whole room.

The lights were the same throughout, and were the usual pain in the arse to try and calm in the editing. After the show I hung around to try get a portrait with the band after they sold some merch. They were lovely and gracious in doing so. I took the portrait in the hallway between the room and backstage, using the ambient light. In shooting gigs I don’t bring flash with me, so you make do with what you got.

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Slaves: The Academy by Aaron Corr

It was a busy photo pit on the night of Slaves return to Dublin. Opening up the show was Murder Capital. It was my first time catching them and I was taken by how animated they were onstage. With the narrow pit and photographers brushing past each other, I kept thinking I’d get hit on the head by a wandering bass or guitar head. They are ones to watch and I’ll be seeing them again this very night opening for Shame.

Murder Capital

Murder Capital

Slaves were great to shoot, given how animated Laurie and Isaac are on stage. Laurie is easier to shoot given he is not surrounded by standing drums, and he takes to leaning over the stage to meet the crowd. There were a lot of strobes through the shoot time but it was still manageable to catch some good action in a burst of snaps. They were the complete opposite of the cheesy tunes they played for the crowd as their stage was set up, but the crowd lapped it all up.

Read The Thin Air review here.

Boy Pablo: Button Factory by Aaron Corr

I headed to catch Boy Pablo for GoldenPlec on a Bank Holiday Sunday befoer Halloween. I planned to stay for just the three songs as I was tired but the songs were short, catchy and with their penchant to throwing a few pop hits in between to get the crowd going further, I figured I should stay. It was a fun gig and I was surprised by the fandom already on display. I’d never heard of the guy a week previous.

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Julian Casablancas & The Voidz: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

I was surprised to get a photopass for this show, purely because I figured the man himself wouldn’t be too fond of press at shows. When I got the pass I thought to myself “the lights will be shite”, and sure enough, they were.

Promiseland

Promiseland

Support came from Promiseland, a Tasmanian devil onstage, who couldn’t keep still between running to his decks/samplers and jumping off stage and into the crowd. He came on twenty minutes later than expected. The lights were brutal and the constant movement didn’t help. The most still he was through the shoot was during this shot as he stretched his back on stage.

Then we get to Julian Casablancas and the Voidz, half an hour later than listed time and just as in the dark as Promiseland. Julian takes to the stage and sits on the drum riser, head in hand for a moment before he began to sing. Within a minute he comes to sit at the front of the stage to face, or not face the crowd. While the stage is lit bad, he was completely in the dark and the lighting guy showed no interest in fixing that.

Myself and fellow GoldenPlec photographer, Colm Kelly were the only two photographers in the pit and were at either side of Casablanas, facing the same struggles. The camera couldn’t focus because it was so dark. I’d switch to manual focus and it still wouldn’t shoot. I swapped lens to a f1.8 50mm and still it struggled to find a focus point. The only hope was catching him while people in the audience snapped him with their phones. Never more so was I happy that people at a gig kept their flash on. This is the only reason I’ve anything usable from the show.

His guitarist wore clown make up and even he was constantly in bad lighting. The below shot may look like things weren’t as bad as I’m making out but this was the best I got in the bunch. He would also veer too far forward on the stage away from whatever light there was and I struggled to get him in any action shots, particularly while side by side with the second guitarist.

Overall it felt like a waste of time but if you’re going to have a shit shooting experience it may as well be with someone of note. I can’t call it the worst shoot I’ve ever done as the audience saved some shots. Band’s like Beach House still hold that honour.

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David Byrne: 3 Arena by Aaron Corr

This will not only go down as one of the best gigs of the year, but on of the best gigs 'I’ve ever been to. As a life long fan of Talking Heads it was a delight to finally see, and photograph David Byrn in the 3Arena for The Thin Air.

I got to shoot the show from the left and right entrance points on the ground floor. This meant having to avoid all the people coming in with their pints to get to their seats, getting in the way of shots. But this didn’t matter. The lights were solid and perfect for shooting, especially at long range. There was barely any photos deleted from this set, they were all so sharp and lit well.

David started on stage with a table and a brain for the first song. I shot from the left side for this and the second song before legging it over to the right hand side for the third song, I Zimbra. When I was done shooting the band began to play Slippery People and I rushed to get my camera lenses detached and packed away so I could run back to my seat and enjoy the full song on time. The show was a joy to watch from start to finish and I want to see it all over again. Let’s see if it goes to Broadway like the stories suggest.

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First Aid Kit: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

This is the second time I’ve shot First Aid Kit in the Olympia Theatre, this occasion was for The Thin Air. Opening up for the band were The Staves, who I had also shot previously in Whelans. First Aid Kit had a curtain covering most of the stage, so the Stave sisters were very much set up towards the front of the stage. With the height of the Olympia stage it very much felt like most vantage points led to shooting ‘up the nose’ as they say, which isn’t the best angle or flattering. Combine this with the mic stands and equipment they had set up for sampling their vocals, the angles were narrow and tricky and I can’t say there is a photo I particularly like from this set.

The Staves

The Staves

First Aid Kit’s set I thought would be a better shoot. The hindrance was the colours used on stage, which can be a frustration when editing, particularly when they are used as low light while the Soderberg sister’s hang towards the back of the stage for a portion of the first song. They are a great band to shoot but if I was to compare, my first experience with them in the Olympia was a better experience.

The other frustration during their set was that they were lit well for a good portion of the set but the lights that were lighting them from front on were causing lots of microphone shadow on their faces, as seen of the next photo of Klara. I ended up focusing on her less because her mouth and chin were lost in the photos as she stood singing. Johanna sang less during those songs and therefore was standing back a little more, making her a better performer to photograph.

Their set was good and their singing perfect, however I did prefer their set and energy on stage at All Together Now in the summer. Their latest album is one of my favourite albums of the year.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

Pavement’s main man Stephen Malkmus returned to Dublin with his band, The Jicks, in support of their new album, Sparkle Hard. I covered the show for The Thin Air and got in early to catch Tandem Felix for my first time.

Tandem Felix

Tandem Felix

My first portrait shoot after I moved to Dublin was with David Tapley of Tandem Felix, for Plec Picks 2014, & Éna Brennan, aka Dowry, is also in the band and featured in a shoot of mine from the past year, yet I’d never got around to catching them live. They were great too, I can finally say!

I enjoyed shooting Stephen Malkmus. The lights were ok, nothing amazing or bad. It wasn’t a busy pit on the night, and the venue wasn’t sold out which surprised me for a Friday night. Those who missed out missed the Pavement ‘covers’ he threw in at the encore which made everyone’s night.