Helmet is currently on tour for the 20th anniversary of their legendary album "Betty". As such, I had the chance to shoot them at ((szene)). There were no support bands and they started quite early, however the hall was quite full of die-hard Helmet fans and the gig really satisfied their needs!
For their only show in Vienna in 2014, Chaos Beyond performed a long set with some of their own extra lighting which made it a unique event, not to be missed by fans! Openers for the night were Thesis, Legion of Bokor and The OverAlls:
A minute before Chaos Beyond went on stage, I met with them at the entrance in order to take a quick picture:
...and then of course their gig - it was really a great show, unfortunately I was not able to stay until the end as I had been away from home all week and needed to sleep... getting old I guess...
((szene)) Wien has a series of summer events called Chill and Grill which utilizes the garden and the outdoor stage. As part of that, Gini Ernst played a set with her band and once again showed why she is one of Austria's favourites at the moment! I went lightly equipped with just the EOS M, the 22mm 2.0 pancake lens and the squishy Lensbaby Spark. It's not always easy to focus quickly but with a bit of practice I think it works quite nicely!
Ignite produced some really awesome music but hasn't really been actively writing for a long time. Seeing them live is an experience for itself and I was glad that I had the chance to meet them for a couple of promo shots before the gig. Unfortunately Zoli (vocals) wasn't really feeling up to it and so we made do with the wall of the parking lot opposite the venue:
The show started off with the most excellent Morphine Pilgrims who I had not heard before. I went on stage before their set to sort out pictures and glanced at their setlist - it seemed really long (14 songs or so) and I asked them how long they would play for. When they replied that it would be about 30 minutes I already knew this was going to be cool - and they didn't disappoint! Excellent and fast hard punk... right up my alley! Download their music here - it's free! Bloodshed Remains and Tigerblood brought more hardcore music to the mix and certainly warmed up the crowd before Ignite hit the stage.
Ignite were just brilliant. Zoli really engaged with the crowd a lot during each song and they played some of my favourites such as Bleeding and Veteran, so there was definitely nothing to complain about except it ending! Loved every minute of it!
I have read countless lists, guides, dos and don'ts and how tos of concert photography and I have to tell you, I'm getting a little sick of them. So I decided to write a short guide on how to write one of the aforementioned guides. Hope it helps.
Basic principle: when you are writing your guide, continue to ask yourself "why or why not?" for every point you make. If the only reasons you can come up with are "that's not the way I learned how to do it" or "that's not good form", you need to expand your horizons rather than trying to limit others'.
1. Don't make your guide into a rant about what is wrong with the scene and then try to hide it by stating "this is not the professional way". An example for this: the amount of photographers complaining about young people with entry level cameras shooting for free is just incredible. So there are loads of people who shoot for free, me included sometimes. Deal with it.
2. When talking about equipment, be open minded. I have read the "don't bring a point and shoot camera into the pit" line so many times but I don't understand - why not? If I have credentials to shoot the show, I can shoot with whatever equipment I damn well please. I have some friends who shoot better pictures with their non-professional non-DSLR equipment than many photographers can hope to achieve.
3. Pit etiquette: simple. Smile, be friendly and think about what you are doing. A little consideration goes a long way. However, please don't list all the "bad" things you don't like other people doing. Sometimes, flash is OK! Raising your camera over your head is OK if it doesn't get in someone else's shot! Climbing the rigging is OK if the band and security are cool with it! The list goes on.
4. Remember that the end result is what counts. You can only decide whether a shot is good or not for yourself. You may not like it, but that slightly out of focus shot with a strange crop and 5 standard Lightroom processing filters could be a hit on Facebook. Being bitter about that isn't going to get you anywhere.
Here's a picture I took at a gig just because I can't have a blog post without one. Faces aren't really visible, there isn't a particular focus point, it's heavily processed and there isn't stage context that makes it immediately recognizable. But I like it. So there.
Cannonball Ride cordially requested my presence at their first gig in 2014, where they would be opening for Napalm Death and Hatebreed - I couldn't really say no, now could I? A short trip to Linz ensued where I had arranged to do promo with Napalm Death before the show so my time was certainly well spent!
A quick aside regarding ND: I believe the last time I saw them live was in 1992 together with Obituary, performing at the Rockhaus in Vienna. I do remember enjoying it extremely from the front row. I got even closer this time!
So. Posthof Linz turns out to be quite a cool venue - probably because it houses all kinds of performances and it therefore has to be kept in good nick for the non-metal performers... anyway, the smaller hall has a gallery running around it and I thought that would lend itself to some shots. Two Speedlites aimed up from the ground level (gallery was at about 5 metres height) and one Speedlite behind the band as hair/rim light.
On to the show itself. I am cursing myself at this point for not having looked for and spoken to the lighting technician. There was ZERO frontlighting for Cannonball Ride and Napalm Death. Cannonball Ride was basically smoke and backlighting, Napalm Death skipped the smoke. Hmph. Anyway, in the vein of making something of nothing, I did a lot of processing on the pictures to get to something I could use:
During Hatebreed suddenly the lights came on, so I got some more standard stuff during their set:
It needs to be done, so let's get this over with. My "best of" for this year - music photography only. The gigs have been chosen and put in order purely to reflect how much I enjoyed them for whatever reasons I may have which I may or may not explain below. Whatever. In any case it is NOT a roundup of the best pictures I have taken this year.
10. Nova Rock Festival @ Nickelsdorf, 14-16.06.2013
A bunch of good bands and quite a few mediocre ones (in my opinion that is, of course), as well as split accreditation for some bands who decided they would not allow all the photographers in. The festival made it to the top ten only because of some local bands I shot on the Red Bull stage: Loxodrome, Kitty in a Casket, Leon's Massacre and Devastating Enemy, as well as some bands I really enjoyed: The Sword and the wonderful Testament.
9. Baroness @ Arena Vienna, 13.10.2013
I joined Baroness' fanbase relatively recently and am annoyed with myself that I hadn't done so before. Having listened to their newest effort Yellow & Green about 100 times in the weeks leading up to the gig, I was blown away by how good they were when playing live. Full set here.
8. Dog Eat Dog @ ((szene)) Vienna, 05.07.2013
Old school, 90's style for the win! A great evening with a really laid-back and friendly bunch of guys - started off with some promo, one shot of which has been widely used including for flyers and the header for the Dog Eat Dog website. A great time was had by all! Full set here.
7. Black Inhale @ Gasometer Vienna, 31.03.2013
Austria's premier thrash metal band, Black Inhale is a pleasure to watch and this time when they played as the main attraction at a band contest in the Gasometer was no different. I was part of the jury at the contest but was shooting Black Inhale as a favour and came up with some good shots, the one below being the pick of the bunch.
6. Tracer @ ((szene)) Vienna, 12.11.2013
I was first introduced to Tracer by my friend Benon who is a great music photographer (check out his work at www.bjwok.com). Having travelled to Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Munich over the last 2 years just to see them, I was stoked that they would finally be playing in Vienna. Their show has developed so much since I first saw them and all of Tracer's albums are starters in the car collection as they have become a favourite of my son's as well. If you haven't heard their album El Pistolero yet, you have definitely missed something! Full set of their Vienna gig here.
5. Discure @ Rhiz Vienna, 08.11.2013
Not knowing what to expect can be fun sometimes - I realized that the Rhiz was not going to be big, but I would have thought that there might be a stage at least. But then I was treated to what hardcore music should be. Raw, close-quartered power coming played right in front and in the midst of the audience. I needed to push around a bit to get everywhere, and it was fisheye and flash all the way, but it was great fun!
4. Loxodrome @ Bauhof Pettenbach, 20.09.2013
Loxodrome invited me to come over to their album release show in their hometown (or thereabouts, at least for some of them) of Pettenbach. I love Loxodrome's music and have seen them live a few times (for example, they played at the Nova Rock festival) so I really wanted to make sure I wouldn't miss them. I spent the day with them, shooting some promo in the afternoon and then the show in the evening.
3. Anthrax @ Kulturfabrik Kufstein, 07.08.2013
One of my favourite bands, this was my second time shooting Anthrax (and I have seen them live a bunch of times over the 25 years or so that I have been a fan) and it all came about again due to Jon Dette touring with them again. Last time was in Brno in November of last year and I got some killer shots there but I knew the Kulturfabrik in Kufstein would not be as big a venue. Anthrax was playing festivals all summer so the club atmosphere was certainly something different for them. I went down by train with my friend Tom and had a good chat with him while traveling. The gig itself was great with a fantastic setlist but the venue heated up to about 45 degrees and it got to a point where some locals went and got a hose and sprayed the crowd with cold water - not sure if that was a great idea around all the amps, monitors, lights and other electric equipment... anyway - the lighting was nothing to write home about but I did get up close and personal... full set here.
2. Iced Earth @ Stadthalle Vienna, 17.11.2013
Iced Earth is another one of my absolute favourite bands of all time. They're right down my alley: pure heavy metal the way it's supposed to be. I went to see (and shoot) them in December of last year and developed a bit of a relationship with them as a bunch of my pictures was used for their "Live in Ancient Kourion" boxed set. When I saw that they would be coming back in 2014 I was stoked but even more so when it was announced that they would be opening for Volbeat on their huge tour. When on top of everything I realized that Jon Dette would be on drums for them it was like the trifecta of concert photography! So, a couple of promo shots backstage and then pictures of the gig with all access, oh yeah!
1. Black Light Burns @ ((szene)) Vienna, 06.02.2013
What a gig this was. About 6 months before it I actually listened to BLB's "Cruel Melody" for the first time and was blown away. I really wanted to see them live but had no idea what to expect. We did some promo before the show (pics in the promo gallery) and I discovered that they are a very nice bunch of guys and that Wes Borland is really articulate, interesting and amiable. The gig itself was just amazing: it started with Jayce Lewis performing as support - quite a find for me and definitely something I really liked. Black Light Burns themselves just come on stage and start playing - and then rip it up. It was nonstop energy and madness and I was allowed to take pics on stage, which led to some unique views and shots of what to me is still the best concert I have ever been to. Full set here.
This year's Dimebash was slightly different than last year's in that the core of the band playing Pantera covers was This Is Riot, a band that was built specifically for these kind of gigs. We still had loads of guests on stage at different points of the magnificent setlist though! Overall, it was a really awesome evening which saw me moving around the place for the entire night. I took some pics backstage and of the crowd while on my way from the photopit to the stage so I think I got a good all-round set of shots!
Two bands warmed up the crowd: Camp Chaos and Earased. I was particularly impressed with the groovy metal sound that Earased provided, I'm definitely going to keep my eyes and ears open for them in the future!
I got my usual band shot from stage right at the end. What a great night it was, can't wait for the 2014 version!!!
A small selection below. Full set of pics here.
Early in 1994: I was at ((szene)) Wien with friends and saw some bands. Bit of a blur really, but I do remember a band that played a cover of Metallica's "Seek and Destroy" and wasn't really hitting the lyrics properly... and I thought hmm - I'd love to sing in a band...
Present day: I'm at the Dimebash 2013 at ((szene)) Wien where people come together to listen to some of Austria's best metal musicians play covers of Pantera songs in honour of Dimebag Darrell, the deceased guitarist and songwriter of one of the most influential metal bands. A guy comes up to me and introduces himself as Wolfgang - someone I have seen around a few times but don't really know well except for knowing that he sings for Boon, a relatively successful Austrian metal band. He says, "you're Shervin, right?"
So back in 94 I talk to the band, suggest they may need a singer who speaks English and maybe they would be interested in working together? "Sure!" they say, we remain in contact and then eventually have a band session together a few weeks later. I know then and there in the practice room that I will never be a singer in a band - and they know it too. They're too polite to say so but we all know what the score is so we go our separate ways.
Last night Wolfgang says: "could it be that you were here in 1994 when I played my first gig with my first band and we spoke after the show?"
You can see where this went from there. We run into each other in the same place almost 20 years later! Wofgang was there with Markus, who was also in the band at the time! And I have finally found a way to be part of the music scene without subjecting anyone to my total lack of musical talent!
One of my all-time favourites in town? I had to be there! I've loved these guys since the early 90s and I am so glad they endured through the ages! I was there early enough to get a few promo shots in before the support acts started. ((szene)) doesn't have too many places with space so instead I opted for a really enclosed space: the anteroom of the stage. I set up three Speedlites and while I was looking at what to do with them exactly my friend Jerzy suggested I use the big circuitry cupboards as a reflector. (By the way: you should really check out Jerzy's site. He's a fantastic photographer and a great guy as well!)
Anyway, here's the setup:
So, set up ready, all I need is a band. Eventually Rob and Ted (guitars) show up, closely followed by Damien (bass). A few minutes later Mark (vocals) also saunters in. Now we wait. Apparently we need a drummer too (I did want to have a picture of the WHOLE band after all). Much searching goes on and phones are not an option because Will doesn't turn his on due to the high roaming costs. Julia the tour manager goes out to the bus twice and can't find him, although Rob is convinced he must be asleep in the lounge area. On the third try it turns out he was there after all but had his hood on and was thus cleverly camouflaged! OK, just a few minutes to get this done and then get the hell out of the way of the first support act! Here it is:
Then on to the live show, which was simply awesome. These guys have lost absolutely nothing over the last 25 years and they played a great mix of old and new (thanks for bringing out new albums by the way!!!). I moved around a bit during the show so I got a bunch of angles - especially closeups of the Beastman Mike behind the drums! Full set is here.
Just a place to log my photographic activities and share some thoughts.