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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.

Click here for full gallery.

Sam Fogarino DJ Set: Tower Records by Aaron Corr

Interpol’s Sam Fogarino made an appearance in Tower Records in Dublin on the day of their third, and final show in the Olympia Theatre to spin some tunes. I made it to the set and brought my camera along for the sake of it. His set featured Tame Impala, Beach House, Rocket From the Crypt and Faith No More to name but a few.

I brought along a print from their show two nights before to get signed. He was delighted to see him so well lit as he joked that drummers often get overlooked, especially for lighting. They have a new lighting guy on the Marauder tour who clearly appreciates the guys further back on stage. I’ve met Sam a few times and he has always been one of the most easy going guys to meet and chat to, especially within Interpol.

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.

Julien Baker: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

GoldenPlec sent me to shoot the Julien Baker show in Vicar Street. They had featured her quite a bit in advance, with an interview on the site ahead of the show. I didn’t manage to listen to her much but I came out captivated by her songs, her voice and her power on stage.

Becca Mancari

Becca Mancari

Support came from Nashville’s Becca Mancari. She was to be with another guitarist but had to go solo due to a Ryanair issue. She was funny and charming on stage, and the lights were perfect for capturing her performing.

Becca Mancari

Becca Mancari

Julien Baker

Julien Baker

There’s not much I can say about Julien Baker’s performance that hasn’t been said in the GoldenPlec review. What I can say was that, much like the support, the lighting conditions were excellent and the spotlights in particular adding to the effect. So much so I made sure to take more wider shots to incorporate them highlighting her on stage. The only distraction was the keyboard set up which got in the way when shooting from the left side. Not a big deal in the overall scale of things. It was a amazing performance by an artist I look forward to hearing a lot more from.

Click any photo or here for full gallery.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Whelans by Aaron Corr

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, all the way from sunny Australia, made their debut Irish show in Whelans, and they brought the heat with them.  It wasn't even a sunny day but the heat was stifling in the venue.  It's been a while since I shot a show, though I've attended quite a few in the blog's downtime.  

Melts

Melts

Opening up the show was Melts, who impressed me a lot.  After just two songs of shooting them the sweat was dripping down my face, such was the heat in the not-yet-packed Whelans.  They didn't share the same drum kit as Rolling Blackouts, which brought a bit of change to the normal support set up, and gave a real closeness to the drummer shots.

Melts

Melts

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

By the time Rolling Blackouts C.F. arrive on stage I was craving one of their beers with the heat.  Mine was long gone, and the place was getting even sweatier once they kicked things off.  The five piece were infectious from start to finish, with some great guitar solos and interplay.

At one point bassist, Joe Russo, broke a string and draped it over his head like an additional guitar strap and ploughed on through the rest of the song.  The band were in jovial form for their last night of the European tour before making their way to the USA.  Lighting wise, it was the usual Whelans set up throughout the night, some overblown colour LED's making editing afterwards a bit of a headache.

The band hung out afterwards to sign vinyl and chat to fans.  I for one went away with a signed record and a promise that they plan to come back again as soon as they can.  Vicar Street no doubt beckons them on their return.

Read the review of the show on The Thin Air, and here for more photos. 

Melts

Melts

Wild Beasts: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

It was sad to see Wild Beasts call it a day, but boy did they bow out with an amazing show and set list.  The gig was split into two sets, either of which would make any Wild Beasts fan happy if they were to experience it at a festival.  This is the third time I’ve caught them live since the release of Boy King, the first was just for a few songs at NOS Alive in Lisbon, before I legged away to see The Kills (I think).  When I saw them play at Indiependance before the Manic Street Preachers, I had a weird feeling as the crowd thinned and never filled up the tent for their blistering set.  It then came as not a complete surprise when they announced their impending split.  While I can’t say low crowd numbers like this at certain shows would be the reason, it did play on my mind.

As they bowed out with three final UK and Ireland shows they played through most albums equally, their first album perhaps getting the raw deal.  I never felt a lull in either set, and the emotion and adoration in the theatre was high and incredible.  You could see how chuffed the band were on stage and couldn’t help but think “maybe they will change their minds”.  With a show like this, they ended their career on a complete high.

From a shooting perspective I presumed it would be very dark, barely usable silhouette shots from dark blues/purples and pinks/reds like I’ve experienced at their shows in the past, but to my surprise they were pretty well lit for at least a song or two.  The deep blues did arrive but it didn’t completely make things tricky for the shoot. 

Vulpynes: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

Vulpynes were the first band I shot for GoldenPlec's Plec Picks for 2018.  Maeve & Kaz hit upon the idea of using the Light House cinema in Smithfield as an interior for some of the shoot.  It was December, it was freezing and the options can be tricky.  We got the go ahead from the manager, and a time for when it wouldn’t be too busy in the halls while screenings were in progress.  The trick to this part of the shoot was balancing the ambient light with the strobe.  I wanted to get these wide shots, but the strobe sometimes would overpower the fairy lights.  While there was no one breathing down our necks to hurry it up, I knew we had to keep things ticking along and not take the piss, so I got to a point where the lighting felt like a happy medium.   

I took some solo snaps of each of the girls, leaving the strobe alone for these shots since being this close to the fairy lights wasn't working to balance the two.

We ventured out to the cold and had a look towards a pub that we hoped to use.  It was busy for a Monday so we nixed that idea.  We moved up towards the Old Woolen Mills area to see what the square there was like.  We shot a few portraits on staircase, I used my portable soft-box for this part of the shoot.

We moved on to a location I'd long had in mind to use.  It was just around the corner from where I live in Dublin 7 and was a corner of a traffic junction, previously a wall with posters on it, and now it's a section of a rustic garden.  I like finding places in the city centre that look like you are somewhere completely different.  I set up the strobe on a tripod with the soft-box and we took within five minutes to take some photos as traffic passed us by.  Maeve and Kaz were great to hang out with and I'm grateful for them to participate in some of the colder shots on the night.  

Click to read the feature, and here for my gallery.

November Photos by Aaron Corr

ABC

ABC

Oops, I forgot to make an October update.  Did anything happen?  Let me think.  Oh yes!  I shot Jean-Michel Jarre and Death Grips, then went on holiday to Berlin and Prague.  I may post about the Death Grips gig in its own little blog as it was one of, if not the worst gigs I’ve ever shot.  I’ll leave those details til then.  Back to now, and by now I mean November.  What seemed like a lackluster month of shooting again turns out to be quite great in the end.  With everything crammed into one week that bled into December I just had it in mind that these all happened in the month of Christmas, and that ABC would be the only gig I’d shoot that month.  Not the case, so let’s begin. 

Martin Fry and ABC played the Olympia earlier in the month.  It was a finely lit show but the only problem is that Martin walked around loads.  Sure, it’s better than a boring front-man standing still and doing nothing interesting, but he’d go to the back of the stage where it wasn’t well lit, then at the front he mostly had the microphone right in his face (he is a singer after all), leaving few clear shots of his face when he was brightly lit.  The best band part to shoot was the interaction between the saxophonist and the guitarist.  

Brand New

Brand New

Later in the month I headed to the double whammy that was the Biffy Clyro, with support from Brand New.  Brand New were all over my social media pages when they last played in Vicar Street a while back.  It seemed like most people I knew were at it, or complaining that they weren’t.  I only really know that one song that was played loads on MTV2 years ago, back when we had music channels that mostly played music.  I expected dark stage and intermittent spells of light on the band and that’s what I got.  The guitarist on the right of the stage was the coolest member to shoot, as he flailed his guitar and hair around on stage. 

Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro

I had come for Biffy however.  Though I’m not a fan of them, I was looking forward to shooting their show.  I knew they’d be energetic, have great lights and leave me with some cool shots to use.  They didn’t disappoint.  The downside was the band’s own video cameras rigs in the pit, and how extra high the stage was to shoot.  It didn’t take a whole lot away from the shoot but the higher the stage, the harder it is to take in a cool shot of the band giving it their all on stage in a wide shot.  I expected Simon Neil to be topless throughout so lucky for me, and not for any admirers looking at the pictures, he had a long white scientist/doctor coat on throughout.  

Hinds

Hinds

Hinds are a band that were on my radar a while but who had yet to play Ireland.  I’d see cool pictures of them pop up in my Instagram feed by great photographers I follow so when I saw they were playing I put my name down for it.  It was quite last minute as it wasn’t well advertised, or at least nothing stood out to me that they were coming.  It was supposed to be The Academy but was moved to the smaller, basement level Academy 2 due to sales.  This made for a far better gig as the space was packed with an enthusiastic crowd, something that gets lost in a half empty, bigger venue.  The tour manager gave the go ahead for photos to be taken during the last 3 songs.  That left me and fellow photographer, Colm Kelly, triying to count the songs out from the napkin set list on stage, a short distance away.  The tour manager swung by again and said we could get 2 songs mid set as well.  I’d seen in images that they tend to crowd surf and realized only then that I should have brought a flash just in case, though we’re never allowed to use it for the regular first three/no flash shoots.  This may have been a different case.

The pit was tiny, which made for awkward to squeeze into position, with the singer, Carlotta, asking if she could grab her drink from the space before I tried squeeze by.  The lights never changed and the girls were well lit, but for each time I went into the pit I didn’t shuffle around too much for different angles in case I’d annoy fans at the barrier or the band.  We shot the last 2 songs, having miscounted, but the band discussed among themselves and did a three song encore.  The tour manager gave us the thumbs up to stay where we were.  I needn’t have worried about the flash for any crowd surfing.  The band opted not to, maybe because of the tight space between the crowd’s heads and the roof of the room.  You could tell they wanted to though, they seemed to like Dublin.

Bo Ningen

Bo Ningen

I was looking forward to potentially shooting Primal Scream during the month and thankfully the photo pass came my way.  I headed along early to shoot the Japanese support, Bo Ningen.  I figured it was going to be a mass of long hair waving every which way.  Combine that with dark red and blue/purple lights and it makes for a tough edit in Lightroom afterwards.

Primal Scream

Primal Scream

Primal Scream on the other hand can teach many a band a few things about stage lighting.  It was perfect, for the first and third song at least.  Straight from the start Bobby Gillespie was wandering the stage, doing his rock star poses, clapping and doing his thing.  It was hard to take a bad shot, though of course I did initially because all my camera settings were prepared for a darker stage and everything was blown out for the first burst of images.  That was quickly fixed.  I tended to stick with the 24-70mm on the Canon 6D and only used the 70-200mm zoom on the Canon 7D a little for the odd close up.  This is my standard practice but in this instance I wanted to capture the full stage and as much of the band as I could.  The set was laced with hits and the band were in top form.  More bands should take note of their use of stage lights.  Then again, that might make the job a little too easy.

Click an image to see the full gallery.