Friendly Fires

This is going to be short, so you can enjoy the pictures and don’t get too bored with my nonsense.
Reason is I had a lot of fun photographing Friendly Fire lively set, but if you ask me to comment about their music I really don’t know where to start.

Friendly Fires, were just before Glasvegas on this year NME Shockwave tour, after Florence and White Lies. They are one of the most hyped band of the rising electro-pop scene, so expectedly they play a catchy electro-dance-pop! Even more expectedly I couldn’t avoid to put them on liveon35mm with they tour mates.

To be “electro” the sound is filled with synthesizers but there is also quite a lot of guitar to keep the indie-rock charm.
Think of My Bloody Valentine, born in the 80s fronted by an upbeat guy good at using today’s computers. Basically nothing to do with My Bloody Valentine. (Have I already written that I don’t know what to write?)

“Dance” requires heavy, steady rhythm and you’ve got loads of it.
The bass player even helps the drummers with further toms, so your foot can’t miss the 4/4, unless you are deaf. Which would happen towards the end of the set if you forgot your earplug. This is probably more My Bloody Valentine than the shoegaze bit that I read on Wiki.

“Pop” requires catchiness, radio friendly (fire) riffs, choruses and sing-along. All is there ready to have you happy for summer festival, rain or shine.
The pop-writing skills helped them on the commercial success.

If you like trivial stories, Friendly Fires can claim to be the only band to have the same song, On Board, used both for a Nintendo and a Playstation3 commercial. Another, White Diamonds, has been used on a never-heard-before American TV series Gossip Girl.

To definitely compromise my reputation, I must confess that just a couple of years ago I would have called a NME band playing this music: Nu-Rave.
Now, I don’t know whether it is me completely missing the point or is the failure of CSS second album, the disappearance of Klaxons after winning Mercury Prize and the dissolution of the rest of the nu-rave platoon to be read as increasing signs of the credit crunch.

A friend told me he saw Friendly Fires playing a full set as guest band in an exclusive party during the London Fashion Week. They appear to have escaped both the credit crunch and the un-coolness of second generation nu-rave inspires.

The light show supports the music (and the photography) transforming the entire venue in a sort of disco, where the only action you are expected to do is to dance incoherently to the rhythm, singing along the refrain. Easy fun.
Anyone can do, even I, for the fraction of time I resist in the hall between the photo shoot and my ear start bleeding for the loud volume.

To close and fit a couple of more pics, a bit of Wiki-ism for the lazy readers.
Friendly Fires formed a couple of years ago in St. Alban, few miles north of London.
A pretty plain indie-story. They published a bunch of EPs before the first single, the very originally titled, Paris. Being voted best of the week from several journals including NME and the Guardian the band started being noticed beyond their circle of faithful fans, which now sum up to 30.000 on myspace.
The homonymous album came out on September 2008 for XL recordings, a label who has on board anyone you can think from Adele to the White Stripe.

If you are interested to know something more interesting and listen these guys music here you have their [myspace] and [website]


Photo tip

There are a lot of annoying things on a stage to disrupt my photographic aesthetic and I have been complaining about them too often. Microphones, monitors, cables, unused instruments, towel, plastic bottles. Some of those are necessary so you can’t help, but what I don’t understand is when a band set up a stage in order to complicate our life even more.

I mean, Friendly Fire were not as bad as Nick Cave solo tour, when he put a piano on the other side of the stage (keyboard to the right, pianos are shaped to sit the player on the left) and the photographers on the back of the venue, on the left of course.
I couldn’t take any image from there but being Nick Cave the closest living person to my idea of God for the last 20 years, I have forgiven him.

Friendly Fires are too young for divinity so, guys, putting the keyboard orthogonal to the stage, is simply annoying.
Guitar(ist) on the left, drum(mer) on the right (?), bass(ist) on the back.
I don’t know, probably it fitted some sort of symmetry they had in mind, but a keyboard in the middle of the stage to the ones in front of it, simply slices it in two parts.

Apart from the frontman, either you shoot the guitarist, or you shoot the drummer. Or you put on a wideangle and shoot, raising your camera without looking in the viewfinder, the keyboards themselves. This is what I did.
No chances to get a full band shot with such a wall obstructing the view. This is why you don’t see it.

Next time please see if you can come out with another bizarre idea to make photographers’ life difficult. You know, we love being challenged to look for unusual angles.


~ by Valerio on March 7, 2009.

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