Cold War Kids @ The Gov, February ’09

Had an interesting time shooting Cold War Kids at the Gov last month.

The email from the tour manager stated first three songs, no flash (as per standard practice). This time however, there was an extra requirement that after those three songs I had to put my gear behind the bar and not shoot from anywhere else in the room. That sucked, because I often get my best shots with my 70-200 from a distance as the Gov is a smaller venue, but I was content to do as requested.

After the obligatory wait, Cold War Kids came on.

The lights didn’t.

I waited the first half of the first song and then a few flat white lights barely lit up the front of the stage (the drummer was virtually non existent). No probs I thought, I have three songs to get the goods.

The next two songs came and went and the lights barely changed. I shot at ISO 1600, f/2.8 varying my shutter from 1/20 – 1/60 to accommodate the situation. There was no pit area for this gig (there seldom is at the Gov) and I was surrounded by happy snappers with flashes going off willy nilly. My shots were going to suck without a flash, but what could I do?

I struggled to get anything decent and after the third song (“We Used To Vacation” – even better live than on record!) took my gear to the bar as per email instructions. I then came back to the front to watch the rest of the show. I noticed the lights had changed notably in the time it took me to stash my gear. I also noticed another photog in the front row blatantly still shooting. I am positive she would have been privy to the same email I was and was curious as to how long she would shoot for. She shot until the end of the gig! The lights did progressively get better (barely) and her shots without a doubt will be better than mine.

After the encore I went and had a chat to the tour manager. I explained the dilemma with the lights. I asked her if the minimal lighting for the first three songs was intentional. Turns out the lighting guy was touring with the band and was requested by the band to create a minimal ambience. I mentioned how hard it is to shoot without any light and that I was conscious of returning my work to Rip It Up with nothing worthwhile. I then asked her if she would mind getting the band together for a publicity shot so I could at least submit that if the live shots were duds. The band was milling around signing autographs and chatting with fans anyway. What she said next blew me away. She said why would they want a publicity shot after the gig? They had already sold out the show here in Adelaide and her job was done. (What!??!!) She said she understood the situation and was apologetic to me, she also mentioned she saw the other photog shooting the whole show yet would not be addressing it, and that was it!

And these woeful pics were the only ones that I took from the show.