I read somewhere that every year 10.000 CDs are released worldwide. I felt more comfortable, I will never be able to listen to everything.
The disappointing aspect is that I am definitely missing lot of stuff I would love but, for my compulsive-obsessive approach to collecting CDs, it is an economic relief second only to the perspective of an mp3-only world.
Relaxed by the news, I put on the Pussy Galore version of Exile on a main street, just downloaded thanks to my appeal on the Heavy Trash previous article, while cherry picking something new to know out of that pile of 10.000 albums that was left.
One part of me was browsing bloody Amazon catalogue buying Cat Power’s CDs, someone I always had the feeling I could like but never had the occasion to know properly. Few days of wait to get them free delivered and I will see if I wasted 20 quid or my collection will have a richer sound.
The other part of me, was preparing my cameras to go to a live gig. I was about to joining a friend to an Art Brut concert (he listens and knows everything, but I am quite convinced he is not just one person I guess he hides at least twelve look-alikes).
Both Art Brut’s albums had brilliant reviews. They have a strong fan base, they tour UK a lot and they are part of the indie-art-punk-next-big-rock-thing scene which I usually follow. Despite all of this I didn’t know anything about their music, I didn’t even bumped into them on TV highlights of summer festivals. They are among those band left out of the pile for no particular reason.
Art Brut tour arrived at the Cambridge Barfly on a winter night.
Outside temperature was in the range of Antarctic winters before global warming, inside is Barbados summer without the sun, the beach and the clear waters.
A tiny venue packed…I mean PACKED, a double size would have been as crowded.
All the arty and multicoloured students of Cambridge University must have gathered there for Art Brut concert. I wait in a corner, the support ends its slot, I am trying to put films in my frozen cameras. I need to find a way to warm them up, all the lenses are misted up and cover in haze.
I grasp that the band is on stage only at the beginning of the second song, when some figures holding guitars materialize from the artificial fog caused by a smoke machine.
That mixture of Art Rock and shiny indie pop finally finds its voice when the singer finds his microphone.
A talkative approach on (and between) the songs. He has the gift of being funny and clever, imagine something between Franz Ferdinand and The Fall jamming in a special edition of “never mind the Buzzcocks” with Jarvis Cocker directing.
An intellectual-party atmosphere. Hardly breathing, three songs on I moved to the back to enjoy the rest of the gig. The party was on downthere too, colourful girls, high on colourful alchoholic sugary drinks, are dancing on the bar table flirting for another shot. Music flows, frivolous and charming as the dancing girls. A night out of pure distraction, just another beer before facing the reality of a journey back home, zigzagging the icebergs with my scooter.
Sometime it is very easy to realize that live music is nothing more than having a funny, nice, frolicsome night out, without all those debates about the sex of angels.
Check them out on [myspace] or their arty [website]
I realized very soon it wasn’t going to be an easy night photography-wise. After the long struggle to get rid of lenses mist (warm them up and use a dry tissue, if you have a better solution, please use the comment box!); after fighting a sweaty and beery human barrier to get to the very first row; after the quick mirage of seeing there was a pit in front of a stage and the disillusion of discovering that it was not wider than 25cm; squeezed there for the first three songs (no flash of course), insulting myself and my friend to having followed his suggestion, instead of lying on the sofa with my lovely girlfriend…the worst was still to come.
Just when the band entered the stage, with me still working on the last hazy lens glass, a smoke machine filled up the whole venue with a thick, white fog; so dense the singer couldn’t see his microphone and I couldn’t see them all.
Impossible to photograph, kneeled down and constrict in twenty, beer-soaked, square centimeters, my main aim at that moment was to be sure the singer, funnily trying to jump over the crowd, was aware of my presence. He clearly didn’t care.
The smoke started to vanish just to make me realize a band member is photophobic.
She didn’t want to be included in the shots and keep hiding anytime I lift my camera. Easy to deal with if you are playing at Wembley arena, honey, quite tricky if you are standing next to the lead guitarist on such a minute stage.
But I am respectful and creativity is photographers’ best gift.
I made use of the smoke: to create the atmosphere, to blur the background and even to try hiding her in the mist.
At the end it wasn’t an easy one nevertheless was a good experience.
So, if you find yourself immerse in a white cloud that last 9 of the 10 minutes slot you are allocated, don’t despair.
Check where the smoke come from, get as close as you can to your subject (even mounting a wide angles and shooting without using the viewfinder), point to the lights (backlight shots are great in the fog) and swear at your friends. It helps. If it doesn’t you can always try to get some shots of the audience or move back and enjoy the gig. Don’t use flash, it just makes things worse.
Photographers, such a hard life!