The Ting Tings


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The Ting Tings

Unless you are a teenager, there is no such an uncool thing in UK as confessing to read NME. Recently, I must admit, with good reasons. NME isn’t anymore the music news magazine it used to be. In 50 years + of existence the magazine has constantly published an issue a week claiming on the cover that the “Next Big Thing” has just arrived. Statistic is an exact science, inevitably they have been right quite few times, but many other very wrong.
NME machine promotes several concerts and a main tour each February.
From a photographer’s perspective it is a good occasion to cover four bands in the same night, to them they are, obviously, Next Big Things.

The Ting Tings

Let’s give it a look back.

NME 2005
Kaiser Chiefs – Bloc Party – Futurheads – Killers
A line up like this, today, will sell out any festival in minutes. Despite the Futurheads didn’t really make it big and the reason why Kaiser Chiefs did is a big mystery to me, three out of the four have become arena filling groups.

NME 2006
Mistery Jets – We Are Scientists – Arctic Monkeys – Maximo Park
Again, leaving the Mistery Jets in their niche of new-psychedelic band in love with Syd Barrett, all the bunch was quite good including the Arctic Monkeys that are the best band England delivered in years.

The Ting Tings

I am not into press so much to know if something changed in NME editing or budgeting but I am into live music enough to notice that something changed in the quality of their line-ups.

NME 2007
Mumm-Ra – Horrors – View – Automatic
Erm, what? The Horrors are the only ones I classified as mildly interesting. For their stage look more than for the music. I know Birthday Party quite well, you know what I mean.
The View occupy the crowded area of post-Libertines bands which is already full with the original ex-Libertines; Mumm-Ra appeared and disappeared from my mind in their 20 minutes timeslot and the headliners, The Automatic, never entered my mind …actually I left the venue midway through their discovery of a “…monster up on the hill”.

The Ting Tings

It’s February 2008. Next round. When I first read this year line-up, I thought it was a joke. Are they putting together a list of support acts with funny names?

NME 2008
The Ting Tings – Does it Offend you, Yeah? – Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong – The Cribs

Despite I was already put down by Joe Lean when supporting the CSS and truly offended just reading a name such as “Does it offend you, yeah!”, I decided to go!
I was driven by a curious appearance of the Ting Tings at Glastonbury and intrigued by The Cribs set at Jools Holland TV show.

As a photographer you always have at least two excuses to justify your id with your superego that you are going to a NME gig with such a line-up.
One is that you are not paying; the second is that, in the end, you are working.
Pictures of a key band at their debut may be very important for your photographer’s carreer…well, it hasn’t turned out to be the case so far, but nevermind, excuses are not intended to be reality.

The Ting Tings

If you arrived up to here, you may have noticed, The Ting Tings are a duo. They apparently play drum and guitar on stage. They are a boy and a girl and they are NOT the White Stripes. You understand it is a different story not when you see that the drummer is the man and the singer/guitarist the girl but when you realize that most of the music is not coming out of their instruments. Hidden somewhere, a laptop or some weird machine is working its beat out of nowhere, free of minimum salary and unions. Bargain!

Trapped in thirty minutes of basic drumming, plain chords, few choruses and repetitive pre-recorded dance-pop synthetic loops, the set left me trying to remember which of the six was the song which impressed me at Glastonbury.
That’s Not My Name, as you would expect, arrives at the end. It has the catchier, funkier chorus than the rest of the anonymous list. I’d lie if I said it doesn’t work, I did find myself tapping my right foot while changing the films but… is this really enough?

Around me everyone finally is joyfully handclapping, today’s youth is easy to satisfy.
Mp3s are turning the music world back to singles’ age. Actually, not even singles, ten seconds of a song are enough for global fame achieved on teenagers’ mobiles.

But “wasn’t there a light there never goes out?”. Indeed, and that is stage light, that is live music.
You can entertain your school mate with a ringtone between math and history classes, but you cannot keep a thousand people happy with a 10 seconds bouncing chorus. Even repeated and repeated several times it won’t work, not with me.

You may disagree, so If I intrigued you enough to listen to the Ting Tings songs you have their [myspace] and you can have a look at their [website], then come back here and let me know.

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The Ting Tings

Photo Tip

When you have a messy stage that is waiting to host four bands, with three drum kits, zillions of amplifiers, cables, stage monitors and so on, trying to get a clean defining picture is not easy.

This is why I like when bands, especially bands not yet very famous and recognizable, stick their name or logo on the bass drum. It helps.
Try this simple thing, imagine you don’t know what this article is about, pick one of the pictures without and one with the band name.

The picture showing the name works out better, doesn’t it? Considering that the average time an observer spends watching a photograph is just few seconds, knowing instantly who is the subject leaves you the rest of the time to concentrate on the image with the mind free from quizzing about it.

If you are shooting a band which has the name clearly visible, take few shots with it. The only suggestion is be aware not to cut it and, if you have to choose what to focus (as always happen at concert where low lights force you to wide apertures and short depth of field), always focus on the artist. A fuzzy name is still readable and acceptable, a blurred artist is likely to be unpleasant.

Concert photography is a difficult art. Through a lens concerts are all very similar, setting and lighting are low, instruments are always same shape, 3 songs are always too short.
Very small details that seem irrelevant can make the differences between a good picture and an average one.

Just to deny, in facts, what I am saying I am closing this article with a couple of pictures that have the name cut and the subject blurred and dark. The exception confirms the rule or writing about photography is much easier than, erm, photographing! Your choice.

The Ting Tings

~ by Valerio on February 23, 2008.

13 Responses to “The Ting Tings”

  1. Hello Valerio!
    I’ve now browsed through your entire blog. I like your subjects, photography, music and music photography, as well as some of the bands you shoot and write about. It’s been a very interesting read. I especially like hearing about things from a photographer’s vantage point (and the tips are interesting). I’ve added you to the blogroll of my blog (I mostly write about new, mostly british groups and musicians, occasionally about (music)photographers and other random things), I hope you don’t mind. I’ll surely come check back here.

  2. Valerio, but give it ……...
    English for maddai….
    The blonde woman seems enough nice.
    The drummer is an incubus.
    After reading your post I’m not very interested to hear their music….
    However I’m happy because my postbox was full!
    Thank you very much indeed.

  3. good review Vale, I agree with most that you have written. I buy the NME every week however never read it as the quality of the journalism is so poor. When I first started buying the NME in the early 80’s Julie Birchill and Paul Morley were both staff journalists. The quality of the writing was excellent and the magazine sold over a million copies a week! Not bad bearing in mind they also had competition from Sounds, Melody Maker and Record Mirror. Anyhow on to the Ting Tings. Yes they are a very straight forward pop band masquerading as an indie act. Musically they won’t win any prizes however have a DIY attitude which is quite endearing. I think there is room for The Ting Tings along with acts like Black Kids and The Teenagers.
    Hope to see you soon. John

  4. Hello from overseas. I’m Laura, the photographer that shot the Ting Ting’s article on Spin.com. . .I’ll have to check out more of your site, great work thus far! (I’ve got a site that needs some serious update at http://www.lauramgray.com. . .I use digital and film format, but with time constraints, maily digital now. . .but I love to play with hand coloring b&w with different paints and mediums too!)

    At any rate. . I would argue that the stuff posted in NME, Spin, Rolling Stone are all pop music.. I mean, they are pop magazines. I enjoyed the Ting Ting’s set in chicago quite throughly. . .they brought a ton of energy and dedication to the show, and despite what they were using to play it, it sounded great. Maybe its the photographer in me, but I really dug their enegy infused set. . .despite the label put on them.

  5. OK OK 2 photographers in a row telling me I am wrong with my idea about the Ting Tings. I trust you guys, since I am going to shoot them again at the end of April I promise I’ll put more attention to them…I can be wrong, I am human!

  6. Valerio,
    I just love reading these reviews and your views. As the mother of a teenager and constantly listening to his rubbish I think I have become one easy to satisfy as well. My taste in music is a bit wild and not in harmony because I like so many different types of music.
    English, foreign, slow, heavy to name a few of my preferences.
    I have to tell you I love The monster coming up the hill, haha. It makes me dance or jump more like it, it must be the brazilian in me.
    I usually enjoy some bands better live because of the energy they transmit to the crowd and the way the whole atmosphere turn the evening.
    I don’t know much about of The Ting Tings music, just know that the boys here in the house think the blonde girl is fit.
    I’ll check their myspace and see what I think.
    Ciao

  7. Randomly stumbled upon your blog when I googled searched the Ting Tings. I saw a video of them and decided to get their album, and boy was I disappointed. I felt like they were just riding along on the wave of ‘nu-rave’ and not doing a very good job at that to boot. I guess it helps if your frontperson is a gorgeous blonde chick. Well, if one good thing came out of this, that it was I found your excellent blog. Will return for more soundbytes and great pictures.

  8. hi ,ting tins …
    I am a one girl brasilian..I dont talk inglish very well but i love your band…..i saw a video and i love your music “taht’s not my name”.
    I love your….

  9. Oh how i love the tings tings! so cute and sassy!!!!

  10. anyone know what they do about their sampling?

  11. Another good article. I’d agree about NME, i used to work with someone who reviewed for NME and they seemed far more interested in writing something funny then anything with journalistic/musical insight.

    The Ting Tings don’t do anything for me, maybe if they’d listened to some of your criticism rather than blacklisting you i’d be saying something different. But as some of your other comments show, when you’ve got a horde of people saying how great you are, maybe you don’t need to listen??

    Keep up the great work.

  12. WHO IS THE DRUMMER!!!!

  13. Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so
    I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading through
    your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that
    deal with the same subjects? Thank you so much!

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