We booked on a bit of a whim to go to the TV on the Radio-curated ATP last weekend. There’s something so deliriously surreal about pitching up to an out-of-season family holiday park that’s definitely seen better days with a bunch of musicians that most people have never heard of and a few thousand other music fans for a weekend. Throw in a desolate beach, no phone signal let alone 3g, one hourly bus out of the place, no other entertainment except a really rubbish arcade, bars which basically only stock vodka VKs and Carlsberg… and you get the idea.
What’s really great is you’re all lumped in the middle of nowhere staying in these hideously dated and depressing little chalets and the bands all stay there too so you’ll spot the artists wandering round around, watching the bands with you and visiting the local attractions. It’s now your last chance to experience the spectacular weirdness as after this year there’ll be no more holiday park ATP festivals, so grab some tickets for the June or November events while you can.
Here are some photos of my favourite acts from this time round.
Some photos from an intimate Efterklang gig at The Lexington last week. It was a semi-secret gig under the pseudonym Black Summer – the day after they supported Foals at the Royal Albert Hall, quite a change in pace I’d imagine… They were on top form, the addition of a female singer giving an even more ethereal edge to some of their songs, with the usual charming patter from lead singer Claus between songs.
Gig photos often come out weird colours because of the stage lights, so I tried making some of my shots black and white to counteract it. I added a touch of grain too for a filmic kind of atmosphere. I’m pleased with how they turned out.
I don’t go to nearly as many gigs these days as I used to – must be getting old as it always seems like way too much effort. But I always make sure I go see Bowerbirds on their too-rare visits to London. They’re probably my consistent favourite band of the last 5 years, with three albums of folky songs inspired by their upbringing and lives in rural Midwest America – have a listen to a couple of tracks below. I took my new 45mm lens along to their show at Cargo last night and was pleased to find it’s a great gig lens – sharp, fast and the perfect focal length.
I had a fabulous few days in Barcelona for the Primavera Sound festival. The weather was kind and the festival site is right next to the sea, so it all felt very holidayish.
The music didn’t kick off until the evening, so we got to spend the days in town, eating plenty of tapas (separate blog post to come..) and hanging out on the rooftop pool of the hotel. Apart from losing my phone and getting epic blisters on my feet, it was a pretty ideal holiday!
Two rather differing recent gigs, but I’m happy I was able to take some interesting photos at both.
Pavement at Brixton Academy, May 13th The problem with big gigs is they frown on what they consider to be ‘professional’ cameras – which they define as any camera with a detachable lens. My E-P1 falls into this category despite being far from a pro camera, so I semi-sneaked it in with only my wide-angle Panasonic pancake lens for extra inconspicuousness. I was a bit far away to get good close-ups but the light show – strings of fairylights and rainbow-coloured spotlights – was really lovely so I got some nice wide shots. Oh yeah, and the band was great too!
Bim at Bar Music Hall, May 20th Bim is the band of resident Poke wordsmith Rebecca and her boyfriend Tim. They create dreamy electro-pop loveliness and a bunch of Poke people went down to cheer her on at a local gig last week. I used my vintage 50mm lens and crazy little C-mount CCTV lens to get these filmic looking shots with a warm retro tint. I’ve also started shooting in film’s 3×2 format rather than digital 4×3, which makes a small but noticeable difference.
I’ve had this idea for a gig poster knocking around for a while. It’s for one of my favourite bands, Why? – who we saw last week. Unfortunately I didn’t get round to starting it before the show, or I might have given it to the promoter to use (Josh did this on their last tour and got his poster signed by the band!). But anyway it’s done now and I’m pretty happy with it – it’s just how I pictured it in my head.
The image idea came from these lyrics from the song Gemini (Birthday Song) (Spotify link)
When we’re on different sides of the globe I thought we’d keep our veins tangled like a pair of mic cables And if there ain’t enough slack to reach we’d solder them together ‘Cross oceans they’d stretch…
Since I got my ‘decent’ camera and a small collection of lenses, I’ve been enjoying taking photos at all the gigs I go to. The great thing about the Olympus E-P1 as opposed to a full-blown DSLR is that it’s small and unobtrusive enough to tote around (and sneak in when photos aren’t allowed – sshh) and not get obnoxiously in everyone else’s way. Obviously I’m never going to get the same image quality as someone kitted out with a Canon 5D and super-fast telephoto lens, but I’m enjoying learning how to get the best out of my camera and use it a little more creatively.
Most of these are taken with a vintage OM 50mm f1.8 lens – despite being an old piece of kit it’s pin-sharp and easy to manually focus, especially with the E-P1’s zoom focus assist. I’ve also recently bought the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens which works nicely for wider shots, and has the bonus of auto-focus.
Marina and the Diamonds at Hoxton Bar, 18th November. I was bang under Marina’s nose for this gig so the 50mm lens was actually a little too closely cropped – a wider angle would have been more flexible. But Marina was fun to photograph as she’s such a charismatic performer – I like all her facial expressions in the photos.
Why? at Heaven, 16th March. This was a tricky venue to get a good spot for as it’s very long and narrow, but I ended up at a good distance to take mid-angle shots with the 50mm. Yoni Wolf was dashing and dancing about the stage so it was a bit tricky to get him in focus – I ended up using this to my advantage to get blurry action shots that summed up the energy of the show. The light show was lovely and colourful and I got some interesting lens flare effects.
Broken Bells at the ICA, March 3rd The light show for this gig was crazy – a projection of patterns that went over whole stage, and hence the people on it too. But it made an interesting effect in the photos.
I love this project by music-streaming site Hype Machine. They asked 50 graphic artists to create a piece of work inspired by their most popular 50 artists of last year. Here are some of my favourites.