gig photographer blog

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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Interpol: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

This was my second time shooting one of my favourite ever bands, Interpol, and the fourth time I’ve photographed Paul Banks officially. The Dublin leg of the Marauder tour consisted of three nights in the Olympia Theatre, one of their favourites it seems. I shot the opening night for MCD and was just one of three photographers. This made for great space in the photo pit for us. On their last tour for El Pintor the band were quite darkly lit, but the backdrop of the red hands from the album cover behind them led to some shots I really liked. That time I didn’t come out with any great shots of Daniel Kessler, and pretty much none of Sam Fogarino, at the back of the stage on drums. This tour was definitely a better shoot.

Nilüfer Yanya

Nilüfer Yanya

Opening proceedings on the three nights was Londoner Nilüfer Yanya. She was a far calmer and easier support to photograph than Health on the last tour.

Interpol opened with Untitled, and this time Daniel Kessler was better lit and easier to photograph than Paul Banks through the song. I spent a good portion of this song shooting Dan and Sam. I was delighted to get good shots of Sam finally, since he was doing a DJ set on the day of their final show, and I wanted to get a shot of mine signed. I managed to get his signature on the above shot.

The lights and dry ice were a mixed bag throughout the three song shoot, but there was enough time with the songs they played to capture all members of the band well. The biggest frustration were the egg shaped lights between the PA at the front of the stage. It really hindered the vantage points for wider shots. They had a disco-ball overhead (I know right? Interpol and a disco-ball) which was not used to much effect until the last few shots I took. After the three songs, certain songs in the set used it heavily, and it looked fantastic. But while it looked cool, the colours during those songs would have been a nightmare to shoot, and edit, so I’m happy with how the shoot turned out. I went to all three nights and loved every minute of it. They’re still one of the best.

Click here for full gallery, and here to see the set from El Pintor tour.

Kurt Vile: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

Kurt Vile can be a tough cookie to photograph at a show. With his hari covering his face for the most part, it’s like trying to photograph cousin IT from The Addams Family in a foggy haze. The last time I shot a show of his it was in Whelans on his solo acoustic tour. This was quite a different experience and was tricky during the first song or so.

Kurt managed to show his face a little and from there it was just a battle with the low lighting and dry ice. Some of the colours were really washed out when editing but converted really nice to black & white.

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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