Warpaint

The reason why Warpaint debut LP isn’t in any best of 2011 album lists it’s simple: it was out in October 2010.
This is also when I bought my copy at FOPP for just 6£. Incredible isn’t it? It is to me.

2011 has been Warpaint year.

An all-girls Californian rock band, is already a nice news in its own. But there’s much more. Let’s see.

Some bad.
John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers liking them to the point of being involved in the production. He’s the most genuine of the ‘peppers’ yet not the group you want to sponsor you.

Some good.
Warpaint are one of those bands that needs time to grew. They slowly enter the subconscious with a mixture of Beach House inspired dream-pop infused with some sunny west coast guitar arpeggios curated by someone in love with art-rock and art whatsoever.

At least in UK Warpaint took some time to grow into people minds. Included myself. A significative sign is that
Fopp price for the CD which rose from 6£ to 10£ while its contemporary records were going the opposite direction.

My first listenings to The Fool, Warpaint debut weren’t very successful. I wasn’t caught by the music, maybe distracted by too many things going on in my life to get seduced by 4 LA mermaids playing dreamy choruses and delicate guitars.
I archived the album on my CDteque without much troubles.

Then?
Then it happened that I has a small slice of Warpaint set at Primavera festival in Barcelona in May. They weren’t on my list of must-see acts but playing close to Yuck stage I went for few songs and left before the end to walk the mile to the main stage where Fleet Foxes were about to starting.

I was impressed by those few moments. In one of my very rare admission of being wrong I promised myself to give Warpaint a double chance. My mood and my life must have shifted into a scenario fitting their sound better.

Back home I gave the Fool a second chance and it sounded as it was a first time. Has it ever happened to you to relisten an album you didn’t like and fall in love with it? Some songs sounded ace and I didn’t really know how I couldn’t see that just few months before.

Undertow at those times would have been one of my track of the year. Too late to rank with 2010 list.
It’d be fun to review my best of lists after years and check what still stays there and what replaces forgotten music, but this is maybe going to be another post.

Newly excited by the LP, I checked the summer tour to find Warpaint were going to play Cambridge on the 11th of May. That was a perfect time and perfect venue to see and photograph them on their own tour in a small venue close to home.
Only after my first e-mail to chase a PR to ask for a photopass I realized that was the day Josh T Pearson was scheduled to play the Union Chapel. Tickets in one hand and photopass in the other, I wouldn’t have missed it for no reason.

Especially because it was also a nice night out with friends and an occasion to shoot side by side with Steve Gullick.
Don’t know whether because of my competitive soul or Josh T or the Union Chapel but I know that is one of my favourite photosets of the year.

On the backside, I missed Warpaint Cambridge gig and, I was told, it had been brilliant.

These images of the Californians came from their third appearance in my proximity in that couple of months. London, 6th of August. Field Day Festival. Victoria Park.

Shooting and seeing them on a big stage of a Festival isn’t the same thing, especially considering how many stages there where with “first three songs” rules to chase.
In the end I caught another small set of their show. Enough to have the confirmation of a nice band.

With the amount of show I photographed last year it took me few more months to post these photos.

Weird enough, I am now listening to the Fool special edition on Spotify while writing this. It includes the album plus their first EP I haven’t heard before. (Why do they make deluxe editions if not to rip fans off? I hate this.)

I am now sitting and not as convinced as I was this summer about the record. It must be a mood related thing.
My appreciation of Warpaint has always been related to my spirit. It’s the perfect band on a summer day with friends and sun. It’s less effective in winter times and a troubled mind.

From the moment Warpaint album was released to the moment I have found the time to write about them and post my photographs (mostly unpublished) the entire 2011 slipped away. And many things went with it.

Hopefully 2012 will bring some more of Warpaint music, and I’ll be there ready to emotionally react to their sound.

While we all wait, you can find Warpaint on the net here: [website][facebook][twitter][spotify][myspace]

29/1/2012
Two new Warpaint songs from a Space 1520, Hollywood CA show on youtube [Hi] [Chic U]

Photo tip

Shooting festival gigs is very different from shooting a concert in a venue. I discussed this in several of my hundreds of tips on the pit.

Maybe of all differences the most useful is available light. Since there is no debate that photography is something else than picturing with light and, given that concert photography doesn’t allow the photographer much freedom of move and stage setting, shooting a stage lit by sunlight gives different images from a stage shot in a dark venue.

There are, as in everything, pros and cons. It is wise to get there prepared.

The main advantage is that you will not struggle with darkness. There will be light.
At summer festivals some shows are early enough to happen with plenty of daylight. Occasion for some changes.
It could be the time to use a slow telephoto. There’s less need of fast lenses easy to shoot at f/8 or more.
I am quite obsessed with the background noise of images so I take the advantage not really in a potential f/16 shot but in a potential 1/500s which means, if you have a fast lens, to shoot wide open with a fast shutter.
If you get the focus right a sharp image even of someone jumping is guaranteed.
Light also allows lower ISO which helps the ones with older DSLR, film and wanting some low noise raw files to get printed very large.

Disadvantage of much light is too much light. Too much light often means too much contrast. It’s really up to festival organizers (and the country where it happens). Worst case scenario if the sun sets right on the stage it’s trouble. Dark shadow and high contrast isn’t good for portraits.
One easy solution, if you are close enough, is to use flash. Even the one on the top of your camera body will do. I is forbidden but No one will notice the flash with daylight. The effect it has is to lower the contrast lighting up the dark shadows. It will save some images without changing the natural light that will still be the main source.

One unpredictable thing is the mixture of coloured and natural lights. It is difficult to control. Depending on several factors either one or the other will dominate, as you can see in some of these shots.
White balance in post production surely helps and is difficult to give a better advice than your taste. What I learnt is that the camera is much more sensible to the colours than the human eye is.
Those coloured spots that looks useless for a lightshow, will be much more visible on your photos. Consider including them for some special effects. Plain light image are usually not as dramatic as a gig shot under a multicolour light-show against a dark stage.

There may be much more to say, if it comes to my mind I’ll add them, if you do, please feel free to contribute.

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~ by Valerio on January 19, 2012.

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