Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong
A story so brief they still haven’t got an entry on allmusic.com. Even Wikipedia doesn’t go much beyond few lines.
Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong released a first single Lucio starts fire last October, Lonely Buoy, their second, is due only in the second half of February.
If contemporary music is what you are after, you have it here. More contemporary than this means it hasn’t been composed yet.
So many rumours have been appearing on this young London band, impatient enough to wait for an album, with just few tracks on their myspace, I decided to go and see in the place where musicians are supposed to be listened to: live on stage. I always needed to experience music physically. The occasion came when they opened CSS recent tour.
I arrived at the site 7.30 PM, 2 hours before the headliners. A small group of teenagers was already squeezed to grab the first row barrier of a quite empty venue. They were yearning for Joe Lean and his JJJs. Hundreds of gigs taught me not to elucidate fans behaviour unless you are a sociologist working on youth interests.
7.45 PM the J&JJJs show began.
First I was captured by bassist’s haircut.
Second I was suspicious by their (and front row’s) liveliness. Too much energy has a distracting role from the songs.
In fact, few lines into the first tune, I found myself thinking of Robert Plant’s voice on Led Zeppelin’s Whola lotta lovefrom their London come back gig. Even if heard on youtube, a couple of days before they moved it, it was breathtaking. I was being unfair to J&JJJs so I concentrated my eyes on the photos, leaving my ears listening to their familiar indie-pop of clanging guitars.
3 songs on, the security guy stopped my photographer’s duties. I stepped back among the kids to glimpse to the band, eyes and ears.
I could see why Joe Lean, the singer, left his drummer role with the Pipettes to front his creature. He is an actor, also appearing on some television series and, as any actor, he needs to be the centre of the audience attention, quite impossible if you are that thin and sit behind a drum set fronted by an all-girls band.
A charismatic guy, press says, not me though.
4th song I struggle to see what the fuss is all about.
On their official site they grandly claim “the goal is to have a nine-year-old girl and 80-year-old man in a different country dancing at the same time”. Italian and “only” 37, I am clearly the oldest bloke tonight but very far from dancing. Teenagers are going mad, it must be a good vibe for them.
5 songs on, my skepticism rides my memory back to their second pompous official statement “…but see one of their incendiary live shows and it becomes clear that this band channel the spirit of every rock ‘n’ pop giant of the last 50 years through their suavely attired frames”.
Combined to what I was listening it was honestly enough, hopefully the 6th song was their last. They anticipated me on leaving the venue.
Why Joe Lean and the JJJs have got signed by Vertigo? Why they have already headlined a Barfly circuit tour? Why NME selected them to play in their Shockwave tour? Why they pass on MTV so often? Why the Guardian put them on the Guide’s cover? Why endless magazines, blogs, papers foresee them as the “next big thing” to storm British audiences in 2008?
I don’t actually have a clue!
Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong are the umpteenth indie-pop nonsense that sounds OK for one distract listening of a couple of songs. Is that really enough “now-a-mp3-days”?
Ages ago there were The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines and the Hives who brought a fresh guitar sound to indie-pop. A second, wider generation of bands followed lead by the excellent Arctic Monkeys; Dirty Pretty Things, Babyshambles, The Cribs and the View still have something interesting to say even though signs of weakness became apparent. Today, well into a third generation, which counts innumerable acts from 1990s to these guys, I have the feeling there is no more juice in the lemon.
Indie music desperately needs a delivery of exotic fruits to mix up fresh new cocktails.
I can understand why teenagers love new bands and identifies with their members. I cannot understand why press supports them. I arrived to believe that journalists attention is tricked by silly onomatopoeic names. In recent times it seems you can draw a linear correlation between band names’ weirdness versus quick success. Few years ago, attracted by a 5£ sale, I ended up buying the “Clap your hands say yeah” debut album intrigued by that name, I won’t commit the same error twice!
Shall I go and shoot the support?
A question that comes to me anytime I have a pass for a concert.
Shooting the support implies going to the gig earlier, using more films (well that’s me), more time post-processing the pictures…in the end it costs a photographer more money. Is it worth?
It is very difficult to predict the answer, unless you have a nice double bill as when Joe Spencer Blues Explosion were opening for the Hives.
I suggest to look for the support a bit in advance. Even in this internet era it is not straightforward to have information on the opening act. If the headliner or the venue websites don’t say it, the Google search can be long. Trust me, it is worth your time.
Knowing the names beforehand gives me time to listen to some of their music, check some pictures and read about their fame. Myspace is useful as a start. I also rely on my friends, often much more informed than me. If you are convinced by the band…go, if reviews say they are going to be big…go. If you don’t like and no one talks about them…well, it’s your choice.
When you got your way up to the photographers’ guest list, usually you are allowed to cover the support act as well. If it is very famous, you may need a separate pass.
Quite often the opening bands are in need of exposure so they give you more freedom than just the “three songs no flash” rule. It is a good chance to experiment those tricks you had in mind for a while.
Try to get some good shots as well. Most times the support is a completely unknown act to you but, believe me, you will be surprised to see how many of them become big in few months.
It happened to me to photograph perfectly anonymous band today known as Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, the Kooks, the Arctic Monkeys just to name a few. They were opening for someone I totally forgot.
Don’t be lazy concert photography is a passion, if you have a pass go for the entire show.