The Fat White Family

It all happens at the end of the year.
In December thre are a couple of weeks when a continuous flow of tweets, posts, news, announce the best albums of the year lists.
These are kindly offered by any music publication (with or without any expertise in music) from any media source: the web.

(and beyond the web) ut let’s focus on the web, it’s where I am, it’s (kind of) free, it’s wide, is comprehensive.
This year there was a difference. Spotify unlimited, for free. Most of web publications linked playlists, the ones that don’t only require a quick search and less YouTube browsing.

I spent that couple of weeks lost among the lists to keep up with what I may have lost. To perceive the trends, which in the last 4 or five years saw a decline of guitars being replaced by bedroom laptop pop. Yawn.

Chartflow.
First, I discard the albums that are present on every other ranks. I already listened to most, the rest is usually mainstream music that I wouldn’t stand beyond the first song.

Then I focus on the bands I know and I haven’t yet listened to. Corsicana Lemonade is the great new album by White Denim for example which I had missed.

About a week has gonewhen the discovery phase arrive.
(No, I’m not that obsessive, by the way, just helps me to dilute these photos)

Lack of guitars means I am eager to find some.
Skipping between artists and songs I never heard, suggested by people and sites I trust, gather mostly a sequence of skip and fast forwards.

Till my mouse stops onto Auto Neutron. The opening track of The Fat White Family debut record Champagne Holocaust.
The opening organ, almost out of tune, a retarded chorus, it’s like someone taking you by hand into a cartoon set in a post atomic landscape. You can’t skip this, it glues ears to earphones including the single note guitar-solo arriving mid song. It’s already best track of the year. A free ticket to listen to the whole thing regardless any weak point emerging. There are not.

Auto Neutron culminates in a guitar crescendo I have been waiting for a while and Is It Raining in Your Mouth speed things up.
The album keeps slapping unpredictably. Lias Saudi voiceis low and unconventional as anything this band does.

it’s unsettling start to end. It leaves with many more questions than tries to give answers. Most important it left me with enough songs to be satisfied for the first half of the year.

Three months later I have listened to this album endless times, I bought the CD and I still can’t get enough.

It has that sane perversion than only ‘punk’ music offers. But it’s 2014 and I do not know what I mean with punk.

The record has the right dose of provocation, naughtiness, anger, dirt, intelligence and fun. All what rock’n’roll needs to have to keep its soul out of the grave and kick asses.

This is not bedroom pop by a shy nerd. It’s like the Fall and The Libertines someway landed onto the same star with only one recording studio.
There is Birthday Party intelligence and The Clash political provocation, spectacularly showed off from the top of a Pub in London on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s dead.

The unanticipated consequence is that The Fat White Family at the same time are praised by The Quietus, The Guardian and NME, that sponsored this concert as one of their NME Awards special events.

In a scenario were music taste is fragmented, listeners follow the favourite publications to not find themselves outside a comfort zone, the consequence is that publications tend to please their audiences giving them what they want. This trend brought to a music landscape clustered around faved bands, same audiences, same niches, even dedicated festivals.

Another consequence is that what usually someone likes, the antagonist dislikes.
Which is what you expect between Quietus and NME, to name two.

The Fat White Family are nothing close to be an easy band, still in their perverted way managed to make ends meet.

In love with the CD, I have been looking for the first available date I could make to see (and photograph) them live.

From their Southern London base, the Electrowerkz in Islington is accessible heading north on the, erm, Northern line. Angel is the stop.
A couple of blocks down a side street and you find yourself in one of those basement-like venues (it is at first floor): dirty, sticky, smelly, pitch black darkness.
No pit.

Either the band was born to play here or the guy of The Electrowerkz opened this place knowing that at some point the perfect band would materialize in suche a stage.
It is the venue for Fat White Family, it is not the venue for concert photography. Not on a sold out night with a band that defining “lively” is an understatement.

I was expecting this, can’t do it anymore every weekend but a mosh pit every so often is what you know to verify  there is life beyond daily routine.

Few hundreds people gather under the stage. Few girls hate me from before the start. Fans hate photographers like me.
I’ve got here very early to stand in the central spot of the first row. With cameras.
If you are a dedicated concert photographer you gotta be ready to sweat and fight and conquer the frontline. There are no chances to take good pics from the second row. Bob Capa rule always applies more than ever here: get close.

I did. A blonde girl tries to push me out of her way, I resist. She has her reasons, I have mine. I don’t travel Cambridge to Islington on a working day to let her at the front and miss the chance, sorry honey.

It’s from the first chord of the first song, same Auto Neutron that open the album, that the intent is clear: to provoke. To have fun, to surprise, to shock the unbelievers, convert the infidels to the Fat White cult.

It happens at the sound of guitars, pumping bass and steer energy. The energy that only a band at its peak has. Everything is perfect, everything they do tonight would be what it is needed.

Lias Saudi, the lead singer and the soul of the family, takes about a song to get rid of his shirt and tie and ends up shirtless for the rest of the set.

The girl once behind, is now next to me. One of us three photographers gave up at the second song and the second shower courtesy of a flying pint. She desperately tries to undress Lias pulling down his trousers for the whole set. He knows, he let her go ahead to pull out at the last moment. Mimics a resistance which only increases the naughtiness of the show. It’s a sexy, dirty set something rare I wonder if Prince is in the audience.

Sure there was Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand

When Lias, out of the blue, stares at the back of the hall, bends as he were to start a wobbling 100m race, you gotta be careful. He will sprint toward the fans jumping high and landing over them. It’s a ritual that repeats almost every song, it would make good pics if I had a flash. I had not.

Nevermind, I’m having fun, I’m sweating, I manage to change the lens in the most unstable of balances and risky of conditions for a digital body with a sensor exposed to a rain of sticky sugary drinks.

It works I’m so close I need to go wide to frame the band. I can feel Bob Capa pushing my back, I almost fall onto the monitors, Lias falls over me. It’s a body fluid mess joined to concert photography.  The 14-24mm is on.

The music doesn’t stop, the show doesn’t either. I keep shooting, advantages of no pit, no one is brave enough to come and get me out, no one cares if I shoot three songs, if I use flash. It’s pointless. It’s a rock’n’roll animal.

Music goes on, hard to follow, not important to check they pick the right chords. It’s an event, one of those night to remember, one of those gigs that enter high on the list of bests.

Yes I don’t do my “best of” lists, but if there is a list of my favourite concerts, this is probably on the top ten of several hundreds.

Catch The Fat White Family, Live. They’re here [website][facebook][twitter][spotify]

And if you don’t believe me, believe him

Photo tip

With this news Getty last week revolutionised the photography world.

From 6th of March 2014 Getty offers most of their archive, 35 millions photos for free for web non commercial use.
It is still not clear what non commercial is, cause they said newspaper and adv containing sites can use their embedded photos.

This one below isn’t mine, it’s from the same gig and it’s usable by anyone for free. Robin is the photographer that left to save his gear, clothes and everything else from the moshpit. Was it wrong? you judge.

They confessed to have lost the copyright war. Sincerely it’s not them to loose, it’s us, the photographers. They have a plan to capitalise these images with customers info and targeted advs. What is less clear is what will be in the hand of photographers, money wise.
Visibility and credit in change of photos made legal by the biggest agency.

Great? Don’t think. Where I stand, I still don’t know. I don’t distribute through Getty but I do through Rex and what will the answer of other agencies is what everyone is waiting to see.

It’s difficult to get the “full picture”.
For the moment Getty move is very simple to understand.
They set a price. A very debated price online.
How much is worth a low res image for web-only use? Getty fixed the price: $0.00

This set the precedent and this precedent will make it difficult to expect someone would pay for a web image now. Not from Getty, from anyone.

Even worse. If someone takes a web image without permission and a photographer claims his/her (copy)right, the potential consequence in a dispute is that the stealing blogger and the court can state that the market value for such an image is $0.00.

So what? I don’t know.

A truth is that web only images ain’t paid so much. I have been paid for one 0.21 pence so my life will not change.

Still this is serious. Space for photojournalism is getting tighter.

On the positive side there is hope to sell through instagram. This photographer made $15.000 in a day.

~ by Valerio on March 14, 2014.

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