Future Islands

This is a difficult one for me.

In 48 hours I crossed the USA and the Atlantic (with the help of a plane) I am fighting an 8 hours jet-lag, I worked for two days and photographed 2 gigs in two different cities in two consequent nights editing the photos till early hours in the morning to realize they haven’t been uploaded onto REX feed. Good, actually bad.

The first of these 2 nights was an incredible outburst of energy provided by a double bill, Wytches + Pulled Apart By Horses in a Cambridge pub. You can see some pics online and I will tell you about this maybe at a later time.

Here I will go through the second of my jet-lag recapping nights (#fail) which was London yesterday and is pushing my resistance to the limit.

I travelled to the Electric Ballroom in Camden, got a crappy falafel wrap discounted from 4 to 3£ because of the late evening order, all salad and pickled pepper included except the chilly sauce cause it had a hair in it but the guy didn’t even bother removing. I took an Instagram (not of the hair!) of Camden lock while eating it on the bridge over locked waters (after too many snaps of Far West landscapes it was difficult to get some inspiration for my IG followers).

I enter the Ballroom, I show the security I have cameras in my bag. The way they ask “what’s in it?” make me believe there must be a solution to be a photographer without a camera, if anyone knows please tell.

This is the short (not) intro, to justify my tiredness and any mistake in this post.

Hordes of touts outside are eager to: “buy or sell spare tickets for Future Islands?”. The band recent TV appearances have been seen by millions but when I enter the Electric Ballroom, minutes before the first support, Kristian Haring, there’s no one. It is the first time I see a venue completely empty. Where is everybody?
He does a very good job mistreating an acoustic guitar and people gathers close to the stage.

Maybe they are all taking advantage of the discounted wraps and one will even win the chilly-sauced hair.
Fact is, in the space of few minutes and another support, it gets busy, then crowded, in the end packed.

By the time Samuel T. Herring walks on stage there is an adoring crowd ready to dance, sing, clap in the front.

When I walk through the sea of people to the back of the venue (need rest) after the three songs slot, I also meet many that chat, take pictures, drink beer, kiss and ignore the show.

It’s getting more and more a London (modern?) thing to go to a gig and, instead of listening and watching aiming at being listened and watched.

For the ones who wants to see the gig, either they opt to sweat to death in the first rows of the moshpit with the hardcore fans or you have to tolerate to listen to the music and also listen to the latest adventures of girls with men, men with beer, hipsters with “this is fucking cool, mate” and bloggers writing everything down to tell about it in the next post.
Irritating to say the least. Unavoidable, am I not doing the same? Maybe.

Future Islands are 4 guys, drum, bass, keys and Herring singing. The first two things I notice are the lack of a guitar (negative) and the lack of an instrument in front of the singer (positive).

Rock history tells that the best performers, from Jim Morrison to Morrissey are the ones that limit to sing without messing up strumming a guitar or hiding behind a piano.

Samuel T. Herring is undoubtedly one of the best performers I have seen in a long time. He’s magnetic the way he stares at the audience, his dancing is different from anyone else. Unpredictable, he looks clumsy but become harmonious if you follow his body along the music.

He has the opposite of a rockstar look. He’s not the kind of guy I like at a first glance. There’s something too theatrical and melodramatic in this moves. Being (myself) uncomfortable with dancing, as 99% of indie-music listeners we love this music because it is impossible to dance, I must have a sort of unconscious rejection to anyone comfortable with his body. My superego needs to be escavenged.
Herring dance moves have nothing to do with sinuous steps but it’s entirely personal and passionate, hence unique.

So put it sounds this show is all about Herring which, to be fair, it’s true. The rest of the band has a support role on building a solid dance beat, synth oriented pop to host is singing. Stage-presence-wise this is a one man show.

someone between Morrissey and Henry Rollins come to my mind, if the clone doesn’t frightens you.

I am not an expert of Future Islands music. I can’t name the title of their best single, despite I know the album they are touring, their fourth. It is also the debut with the ever brilliant 4AD label and is ambitiously titled Singles. Deserved ambition because I still have to read a non very-positive review.

The three other records have been recorded in the last 5 years or so. It is the typical indie-hyperbole. it started with self-released EPs and singles, then first album Wave Like Home on obscure label. Than they get noticed by Thrill Jockey for the subsequent to acclaimed LPs, In Evening Air and On The Water.

Here is when the magic slowly happens. Endless tours in any small venue of the western world, the words of mouth spread the gospel about the performances and reaches any small place of the blogosphere including my ringing ears (that’s because of PABH show the night before).

Thrill Jockey is an amazing label but I struggle to see Future Islands sitting next to Pontiak, White Hills, Arbouretum or Tortoise.

They sound more at home on 4AD, next to the calibres of The National, Bon Iver or Daughter.

Singles charted both in UK and USA, it is true I recently read that only few thousands copies bring you in the top40 but still is an achievement and surely, the begin of a rise. It’s tough to be a musician, not that a music photographer is easier but at least you know you can’t live out of it and need a planB ready. Musicians cannot, brave people.

For this Future Islands are beginning to tour all the summer festivals and surely there will be a lot of buzz around them. Support music, check them out online at [website][facebook][twitter][Spotify]

Photo tip

It’s bizarre that after several years happily using Aperture, I decide to write a photo tip about it the week I opted for Adobe Creative Cloud and imported my first photos into a Lightroom library (or whatever it’s called).

The reason is that my first impression with Lightroom, overwhelmed by reading how marvellous the software is, so far has been underwhelming.

Lightroom and Aperture do pretty much the same thing, surely in terms of library management, basic control of a photo, workflow and editing.
Lightroom has the addition of correcting distorsion, something I rarely use after I invested thousands of pounds in distorsion free Zeiss glasses and something I don’t consider essential at gigs.
I am sure Lightroom does much more, I promise I’ll write on it when I got my hands on it.

So far I wanted to praise aperture, especially for gig photography, telling about my workflow…

Import is straightforward, a project about the gig, backed up in an external HD with the same name. To be precise I delete a lot of pics straight from the camera card, I know it’s a bit naïve given how cheap storage is, but I hate keeping photos that will never be used.

Photos go through a couple of rounds of starring. I suggest to start with one star, than go again through the ones without rating to double check you missed something. Starting with about 200 photos I end up starring around 50. At this point I add metadata, and keywords in batch to all the starred ones. Then I go through a second and eventually third round of starring.
The end point is something between 10 and 20 photos I am ready to edit.

I don’t post-edit much, white balance in Aperture is brilliant. Levels and curves also help fighting the LED channel saturation. When they don’t it’s time for some desaturation. Vignetting and sharpening sometime keep the viewer focused on the subject. One thing Aperture doesn’t handle well (or at all) is noise reduction, so the 6400ISO images aren’t always state-of-the-postediting-art. Lightroom is said to be much better. Look forward to double checking.

From downloading (Aperture is faster than Lightroom to download photos from the card) to final edit it doesn’t take me more than one to two hours.
So the question now is, why did I go for Lightroom? I don’t know, I am open to hear your experience, I have time for another 3 weeks to cancel my subscription.

~ by Valerio on May 14, 2014.

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