My 2018 - This is my Hobby: Gigs, Gigs and Gigs
If you've followed my other posts at all then you'd know that I am a photographer.
Now it may surprise you to read this but I do not count photography as one of my hobbies.
To me it's a job.
It's a business.
It's a tool for telling stories but it's not the point of the story.
My route into photography was through other creative work. I used photos for reference, used them to create textures for digital artworks and used industrial cameras to enlarge images.
That just evolved into using my camera more often until it was the main medium I worked in.
What I was really passionate about all of the time behind the scenes was music.
Finding new bands, hearing things that I've never heard before, going to shows and seeing gigs.
I have always been surrounded by music and always had a family connection to it somewhere.
Family members were in bands or choirs.
Some of them were involved behind the scenes in the music industry, in sound production and artist management.
Most people get into photography and become wedding or portrait photographers by photographing their friends weddings or kids.
My friends didn't do that.
They formed bands instead.
That was something that attracted me to live where I do.
Glasgow has a world class music scene and I love being part of that.
You can see everything here.
From an Open Mic night to emerging bands in a dive bar, to established bands in medium sized venues to stadium rock acts or even Opera or Symphonies in the concert halls.
All within a couple of miles radius.
All comfortably walkable from my front door.
The added benefit too is that Glasgow is a reasonably affordable place to live so it's possible for normal folk to stay here, start a band and get somewhere without working 6 jobs or dying of starvation in the process.
Unlike places like London or New York.
What was the last really exciting band to come from there?
(Answer: it's this band. Gogol Bordello!)
I have been fortunate enough to have had the chance to see virtually all of my musical heroes.
All of the bands that were important to me.
At least all of my musical heroes that it was possible to see.
I have also been fortunate enough to be able to photograph music professionally.
Though the opportunities to do that are rarer these days.
I'd like to think that I got the job both because of my technical skills but also by the fact that I understand the music.
When I'm shooting something I try to tell a story to the audience.
I feel that the audience for music photos is pretty much my friends. They are the ones who buy stuff and consume that media.
So do I and because of that I feel that I understand it a little more in-depth than anyone else.
None of this would have been possible for me without technology and social media.
Back in the day it was Myspace that was the place to be.
Every band was on there and it was easy to contact or connect or arrange passes or shoots.
When that went down the tubes it wasn't Facebook that replaced it, they all moved to Twitter.
I found so many bands through Myspace, one of them were First Aid Kit.
I remember them sending me messages.
"Thanks for the add, hope you like the tunes, cool photos!"
That kind of thing.
It's lovely to see them grow into something bigger and know that you were a tiny part of that journey.
Doing a hobby for work does slightly ruin the hobby for you.
for that reason the bands that I'm most fond of I have avoided doing photos at them preferring instead to be there as a paying customer.
Wouldn't you rather be down the front seeing the setting as it was meant to be instead of stuck in the wings or beyond the speakers?
In terms of health and safety the best investment I ever made was to buy earplugs.
Musicians ones with a filter that take the edge off loud noises but let you still hear the music.
They've proved the best investment of gear that I've ever made.
I haven't always had the chance to go concerts. There were a few years before I lived in the city where it became difficult to travel and expensive too.
With the money I spent on train fares I could probably have travelled the world a couple of times around.
However that would have meant sitting at home on my own with nothing to do for the other 50 weeks of the year instead of going places and meeting people.
Recently I do feel that I'm being priced out of the market for some concerts.
Small shows in tiny venues haven't changed their ticket prices in forever but the shows in huge venues have become very costly.
I'm talking about £50-75 a ticket. Occasionally more.
That type of show doesn't appeal to me. I've always tended to like more obscure bands that are unlikely to reach that level anyway.
In these photos there are so many memories.
The band I've seen the most here are The Fall.
They were the first band I ever saw.
Edinburgh Acropolis August 1994 as part of the Fringe.
The night in the photo was in 2005. That was actually a rescheduled gig as the first night didn't happen.
The band never made it out of Aberdeen the night previous.
I remember our debate whether to ask for a refund or just hold on to our tickets. We chose the latter and it was one of the best nights and best gigs that I ever went to.
I even got a proposal from a random Irish girl, down on one knee presenting a diamond engagement ring under my nose.
I saw the Fall 8 or 9 times and I'm sad that I'll never get to see them again.
Or the Saturday night seeing First Aid Kit my friend then ending up in the Western General Hospital.
Him not me!
I go to a couple of shows per month. It depends on who's playing of course.
There are times when I really shouldn't have but made the sacrifice and was prepared to eat noodles for a week if it meant I could see something.
I did that with F.F.S as it was their first ever gig and it was in my neighbourhood.
It was also great!
I've made so many wonderful friends through going to shows.
It's hard to get to know people in the city.
Pubs, clubs and coffee shops are designed for groups showing up. So if you turn up alone it's always awkward.
The days of going into a bar, saying hello to the person beside you and 3 hours later having heard their life story and memoirs are gone.
Then there are times like this Afro Celt gig here.
By the end of that night there was basically a little mosh pit down the front.
When the gig finished and the lights were raised the people all turned to head to the exit and I noticed that I knew every single one of them and every single one of them knew me and greeted me.
Being part of these little communities is something I dearly love.
Going to a show is special. You have an inbuilt topic of conversation and a common interest.
Almost all of my friends in the city I met through music.
With only a couple of notable exceptions.
Usually I go alone. I don't mind being on my own.
You end up losing people anyway.
If I was with you. I'd be down the front. If you're not then I've lost you. I'll get you outside.
Coming home with a photo is still a bit of a compulsion though I don't spend the whole gig taking photos.
I grab a couple and then forget about it.
I like having the memento and because it's my photo not someone else's view of the night.
All of these photographs are mine.
Most were taken on my phone apart from The Fall, my old Nikon Coolpix, First Aid Kit, Beirut, Beach House and P.I.L with my Dad's Fujifilm F100fd.
(I still have almost all of my tickets too in case you're wondering.)
The P.I.L gig was interesting that way. It was a small venue and everybody was trying to capture it on their phone.
That lead to John Lydon asking folk to witness the show with their eyes and not see him as a digital recreation.
But having said that, he asked for the lights to put up full and told the crowd that now was their chance. Take the photos now and then forget about it.
Which I wish every act would do.
Make photos, videos and technology part of the show.
I am very thankful for being able to do this and for having built an archive of photos of things that I love.
In many ways I have travelled the world through music. From seeing Argentinean Electro Tango bands, to Japanese Noise bands, Californian Punk and Thrash, West African Guitar bands, Tuvan Throat singers, Jamaican Ska & Dub superstars to Gaelic songs.
I will end this post with the one that opened doors for me.
I'd take my camera along to gigs. My little Nikon as it was small enough to fit in a pocket.
Afterwards I'd write blogs about the things I've seen, for fun mostly.
That was until I saw Morrissey in Stirling.
This was a novelty on many fronts as here was an artist that was important to us playing locally.
I was the only ones with photos of this gig and I got asked by a few folk at the show if they could use my photos.
Eventually I ended up working with them for a while and the rabbit hole door was opened. I've never looked back.
That night (quite literally) had opened my eyes.
The music is the thing I love but also the connections that it brings you, the friendships and relationships forged on the back of it.
My plan is to keep on doing this
Thank you for reading
All Photographs Copyright © 2005-2018 Andrew McKenna