Listening to music – food for the ears.

We share the same skies

I’m finally back! Actually, I’d arrived at 5am on Friday, and then was at the university merely hours later for my orientation day – resulting in about 38 hours of no sleep by the time I fiiiiiinally made it into bed.

I know, I’d intended to blog whilst on my holiday in Taiwan and Japan, but then my laptop broke within the first 2 days of arriving in Taipei, which royally screwed that plan up. I really should be sleeping now though – the first official day of university is tomorrow and I should try to kick my university career off with a decent night’s sleep… but knowing me, I will be browsing the web until I doze off eventually.

Asides from getting reacquainted with my bass (and any form of technique at all) after a whole month of being thousands of kilometres from it, the other hurdles I really need to tackle this week is my sheer nerves and anxiousness about starting uni itself. It’s exciting, yes, but I’m scared shitless at the same time – I’m doing Jazz Performance for goodness sakes! It’s a far cry from the would-have-been alternative… sitting comfortably unnoticed in a crowded law lecture and being able to do my own thing without putting myself out there – until I was read, at least. But now… I’m crapping out about having combo and improvisation classes, etc etc. Yikes.

In other matters, yesterday evening, the family decided to trade bedrooms – which equals bigger room for me, yay! The only (but huge) problem is that, now that we have fiiiinally moved the furniture contents of 3 bedrooms around, the wardrobes will remain unchanged until we can get it together enough to get everything back in the right places. Despite the bigger room, I still can’t see any carpet, simply because half of what I own is sprawled on the floor. Wish me luck with that…

And last, but certainly not least: Last night I attended The Cribs show at Juice Bar with a couple of friends. It was AMAZING. The best concert I’ve been to in a long time. The Jarman brothers (and yes, who could forget Johnny Marr) had amazing stage presence, everything was tight, energetic, a thousand times better than on record; and their shared vocals were done just so, so perfectly. The sweetest thing was, Ryan had a picture of Kate Nash stuck on his Gibson, under the strings, between the pickups – super cute! I’m just jealous that Gary (which one’s that? the hot bassist, of course!) who’s only 29 is married to a 42 year old! Granted, she’s meant to be pretty amazing (mixed an album of Elliot Smith’s, etc) but still… Gary was well worth the leg pain that comes with a barrier-less venue!

Anyway, I will endeavour to post about my trip in sections along with photos – when I eventually get around to sorting them all. For now, here are some shots that I’d taken on film. All unedited, directly from scans. It’s good to be back!

She’s always lookin’ at me

**Edit: It’s 3am in the morning and I’m not bothered to write a new entry, but the good news is I’ve changed the theme and I have a random image rotation on the head banner; so you can refresh to see almost 30 odd pictures! I may or may not delete/add some more later**

This is such an image-heavy post that I’m not even sure where to begin recalling my past week of events! But I’m counting on the theory of chronology to help me out here:

We left for Raglan on Tuesday, but I’d stayed up to some ridiculous hour on Monday night – well into the early morning – and it was raining all night, with general terrible weather. Thankfully the rain had cleared up a bit by Tuesday morning, and more so when we headed South-West towards Raglan, the first 3 photos are from the beach on the Tuesday:

Everything asides from the crap weather that returned on Wednesday, and my ever-worsening cold was great: the campsite was awesome and it was set up so you could park right next to your tent (instead of the sort with a separate carpark); we were lucky enough to get a spot right next to all the vital facilities like toilet, shower, bbq, etc. On the second day due to my cold and our lack of wetsuits, Charlotte and I opted to stay out of the choppy waves down at the surf beach, but my sister and her friend Caryn dived straight in with some rented boards that were $35 for 3.5 hours. We were all so tired from either surfing or going on an huuge walk down the beach (it’s a very, very long beach, we found out) that we all collapsed and went to sleep halfway through our poker game that night. I haven’t had the chance to get the photos off Charlotte’s camera yet, but she has the other half of photos, which include the huge sand dune that we decided to scale whilst the youngsters surfed. Soft sand is very, very difficult to climb – but the leaps down felt amazing!

The photo on the right is of the Bridal Veil Falls, which we visited on our drive back to Auckland. I believe the sign said it was a 55m drop – and evidently we didn’t feel like taking the half an hour walk down… and back uuuuup.

Upon arrival home, Liv and I cleaned all the sand out of our bags and flopped down on the couch for some much needed rest – I shot the Peaches gig that night too, except I haven’t yet had a chance to sort those photos yet.

The very next day I awoke to my paranoia of forgetting something important as I was leaving to attend Auckland’s Big Day Out. Usually I would’ve packed light – sunnies, money, ticket and phone in pocket, but this year I was photographing for Cheese On Toast (who had offered and gotten me my first fancy-looking media pass that had my name pre-printed and all!). Here are some shots of acts that I’m sure most people will recognise, the rest are up at CoT! (Hopefully I’ll put some up soon as well… although such publication is a bit iffy…)

To be honest, I’d always thought Muse was good, but I had been quite indifferent and definitely didn’t constitute myself as a fan. But that changed after photographing them – I was completely blown away. It was just so EPIC, intense and insane.

Ironically, this is my favourite Muse photo:

Lily Allen:

Sophia Burns of The Veils – she’s stunning, it was a mission to get her face though, with the shoe-gazing bassing stance:

Ladyhawke & what I found beyond the media room beneath the stadium stands – the stadium changing rooms had been converted to the bag check area, and all the rooms and bathroom walls were lined with numbers and bags against the wall in numerical number; here’s a photo of the main corridor:


Joshua Third from The Horrors – once again, trying to get his face was such a mission, but I eventually got quite a few, here’s two I like of him:

At the end of the night my sister got a shot of me in my bright orange photo vest. I never wore it apart from when I was in the pit because the fabric was quite rough, and plus it got pretty hot. Although, the one time I’d left it on whilst trying to find my wallet in the shade, soooooo many people stopped to ask me for directions for things… obviously they couldn’t read the “PHOTO 19” on the back of my vest and assumed I was an event guide – who were in florescent yellow vests scattered throughout the stadium. There were so many of them I couldn’t figure out why anyone ever thought to tap on the shoulder of the girl who was evidently having trouble juggling 2 heavy cameras with 3 lenses digging in her bag! Following that, I had to work both days of the weekend and my shoulders were completely rubbed, raw and soooo sore. But it was definitely quite an experience – front row punters were all jealous, and they all had some misconception that I want to take a photo of everyone of them… haha.

Completely irrelevantly, today my mother bought me a belated graduation gift. It’s a turquoise Thomas Sabo bracelet, and thoroughly appropriate for the occasion, as we were barely just discussing how she hadn’t quite yet found something I could keep close to me all the time. When I spotted the bracelet it immediately reminded me of mum because she has a custom silver cuff with the same stone embedded in the centre of it from Japan when she was about my age – and I’ve been borrowing it for about the past six months. Ahh I’m so in love with this, it adds some sparkle to my silver and monotone jewellery, yay!

Hello, how are you?

My grandmother flew down from Taiwan a week ago and is spending Christmas with us this year; so in between my erratic Christmas shifts and gigs, my nights have been slotted full of silly banter whilst playing Rummikub. Work has been more stressful as of late, as the mall’s been far busier than usual (and I only get called into work on the hectic days). According to today’s newspaper front page, Christmas sales have been down significantly since last year, but at work it seems to be that most people are resorting to cafes to catch up with people, instead of actually spending money on presents for one another.

I’ve been stuck on the till for somewhere between 15-20 hours in the past 4 days alone, and so many things are really making my nerves tick. You know when you enter a store and the sales assistant greets you and ask, “Hi, how are you?” and if they linger for a response you usually respond with “good thanks” and keep browsing? Or, if they’re awful at their job and completely ingenuine, they’ll simply ask and move on before you respond… that’s all very well because it seems to be the routine for sales people. But what I truly cannot wrap my head around is about the 2/5 customers that approach me at the till and go “Hi how are you I’d like a flat white… etc…” – the painful lack of punctuation reflecting the exact way they speak – not even pausing to make their words a question or proper sentence. WHY do they open their sentences with “how are you” without really even making that a question?! Furthermore, even when you totally disregard the fact that it’s a completely redund
ant thing to say, it also makes me feel like a right prick because I’m the one who is supposed to be asking such things, and I don’t know whether or not I should even acknowledged that they’d said it at all?! On top of this, I think the usual 80% of people who say medium when I ask whether they’d like a small or large coffee (whilst pointing to the small, then large cup), has grown into about 90%. Is it really so hard to figure out that a middle-sized cup will not miraculously appear out of thin air, just because many womens’ conscience (or stupidity) seems much more satisfied when they think that they’re not getting a “large”. I give up, I truly do.

I’ve got so many more pet peeves accumulated from work over the past year, but it’s all been heightened over the last few days. It didn’t help that on Saturday morning I started work at 7am following a very late night out in town watching Yacht, who were supported by a crazy set by The Sneaks, and the alien-headed Kazaam Blam. The mere three-hour nap I took before rolling out of bed to get to work on time was simply not enough to refresh myself from having to get quite pushy and block the view of other people in order to get a decent shot of Yacht; their dance moves and craziness kind od reminded me of Karen O, but definitely nowhere as wild. Overall it was a good show, but it was a shame that my friend and I couldn’t stay until the very end of it, just because we were both sooo exhausted from work and Saturday the following would be much worse and busier.

I’ve picked out some photos from Yacht, click here for the full set:

and I want to walk around with you

It’s taken me two days to recuperate from my excitement-filled 18-hour day out on Tuesday: I’d spent the day lounging in the sun at the beach, followed by one of the best gigs of this year –Animal Collective playing at the Powerstation (scroll down for gig details).

My Tuesday kicked off bright and early with a wake-up txt message from my friend making sure that I had indeed gotten out of bed by 7.40am – which I personally thought was a little over-the-top, but considering for the entire year I’d rolled out of bed at 7.55am for school on the days which I didn’t have training nor rehearsal… it seemed understandable that they wanted to make sure the driver was awake.

Nine of us decided to head up north to the Shakespear Regional Park, and set up site for the day on Te Haruhi Bay. Ironically the best part about the whole trip for me (asides from how early they’d made the departure time) was the drive up north. Good friends, decent music, great views through the sunnies and an effortless swift drive for just over an hour was definitely my cup of tea. The biggest obstacle of the day was when the people in my car disagreed with those in the other car as to where we wanted to set our towels down for the day. I’d personally vouched for the sand and didn’t understand why we’d drive all the way to a nice beach with decent, soft sand (Auckland is full of overly shelly beaches that don’t really have decent sand) only to spend the day sitting on the grass; but eventually we compromised, moved around a bit and got the best of both worlds when we threw a frisbee around on the sand and I even attempted to use a soft bat on a foam ball. It either went too far or in whacky directions or both – the foam ball didn’t stand a chance against the wind!

At some point in the afternoon after several hours of swimming, lying in the sun with music and pigging out on buns and a roast chicken that we’d bought from Countdown, we decided that we’d bury Euan in the sand. Well, actually he’d volunteered himself, and made sure that we made the sand wet and compact enough that he couldn’t escape. And soon, what do you know, one of the boys suggested (how typical) to make the buried-Euan into a giant penis. I felt somewhat guilty for having encouraged the use of dried seaweeds as pubs around his head, followed by Michael’s cam-whoring antics as the owner of the giant penis once he saw me whip my camera out!

The real fun began when I got to surpass having my bag checked at the door of the Powerstation simply because I was being given a media photography pass and got to dart through the door. My obligatory drink of a Monteith’s Original led to my vow of never ever drinking beer out of a plastic cup again, regardless of how good and cold the beer was. It just tasted vile… with a slight tinge of that smell of plastic which mixes in with your taste buds at the back of your throat. Nasty. $8 for plastic beer? No thank you. The bartender looked at me with great distaste when I asked if he could just give me the bottle – I imagined in my head that he was thinking something along the lines of “Didn’t you get the memo? No glass bottles in this venue!”, good lord. Not surprisingly the rest of the evening only went uphill from there – Bachelorette’s set (or what I caught of it) was enjoyable albeit the couple of technical difficulties which caused her to even restart a song. Boy was I wrong when I’d expected to see a duo on stage – obviously my friend had misled my beliefs to this “opening band” idea, and apparently I’d also missed her best song. Nonetheless, thanks to the mellow tone of Bachelorette and the use of my camera, I easily settled myself in a comfortable, just off-centre spot in the front row. I’m pretty sure I was allowed, if not supposed to be in the pit in front of the railing, but I simply didn’t want to have to leave the front after 3 songs – which turned out to be a priceless decision.

In a strange way, I’m grateful for the photography for 3-songs-only rule, as it meant I was forced to set my camera aside and fully throw myself into enjoying the show. Otherwise, I know I would’ve been far too torn between thrashing around during the set or staying affixed behind my camera. I applaud them for their set list, especially with slotting in tracks from their latest album evenly throughout the set – opening with In the Flowers, ending the encore with My Girls, with an extended “just a sec more in my… beeeeeed” from Panda Bear nicely placed in the middle. Pure magic. For quite a few of my shots I’d purposely used a slower shutter speed and aperture to capture the atmosphere and buzzy movement of it all.

Here’s my favourite, followed by some highlights (click here for full set):

Tell me where it hurts, amnesia

I’m just going to add this at the top of this post, since I’m lazy: but how the heck did i forget to mention that i got accepted into jazz school?!! I’m so excited, this means I don’t have to fall back on doing law (it sounds a bit backwards, I know), but it’s what I wanted.

I usually take a lot of joy in photographing gigs, especially the really challenging ones in some stupidly dark venue, with rugged band boys that like to move around far too much – but last night was a totally different story. For some reason, despite being a Saturday night, I just wanted to curl up at home and stay that way. It didn’t help that I’d developed a headache, then shown up only to discovered that the “doors open” time had been postponed by an hour (thankfully I always show up very late anyway), but it still pissed me off. To add to this, as I was getting stamped off the doorlist, the promoter/organiser of the gig tells me that no flash photography is allowed. This is usually music to my ears (no pun intended), as it means no one else should be annoyingly flashing also, except that the only other time I had been to the venue, the band had been lit from the back of the stage – silhouettes get old. Quickly.

Lo’ and behold, my worst fears had been confirmed – the stage was indeed lit from behind, and very dimly so, might I add. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I simply thought the first band was rubbish… and faaar too loud. I’d forgotten my earplugs. And in my attempt to photograph with as much light source as possible, I had to be stuck right next to the stack of speakers. Great. I think the only highlight of my night was the fact that the 2nd supporting band had greatly improved since the last time I saw them at their EP release a few months ago, and I actually thoroughly enjoyed their set last night, despite the literal headache plus the one of trying to find some damn light!

Sometimes, I feel like all my photos could end up in one big blur of the same thing. I don’t want to become one of those perfect photographers that has perfect lighting in each shot, with the musicians all in their standard stances and poses of playing their instruments… I try to capture some essence of the moment – something that is only there for that flicker of a second and will never happen again. Even throughout my daily excursions I have this really bad habit with looking at everything twice, or for too long; it’s because I think I will never see it again, which is true depending on if you look at it in the (somewhat) pessimistic way that I do. So i hope these aren’t boring.

Here are some of the pics from last night, the rest are all here:
My favourite is actually the first picture, a reflection of the sky tower that i saw in a puddle whilst waiting for doors to open.

P.S. Thanks for all the comments letting me know about problems regarding my comment form, the gravatar appearance, etc… i should get around to fixing it soon, hopefully along with a new theme.

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