Monday, April 2, 2012

Gotye & Kimbra at the House of Blues, Boston 03.29.12

I really felt like the last kid picked in gym class. Three concerts in New York had passed and I was seeing pictures on Brooklyn Vegan and reading reviews from fellow blogger Hank. I was dying to get to this concert, seeing how I purchased my tickets back in December. With that in mind, and not entirely impressed with the shots I'd see so far, I was ready for my chance. I even sacrificed the safety of my usual shooting position which I knew would force me to abandon my signature shoe shot. I took my chances out in gen pop, and I couldn't be happier with the results.

Like so many others, I was drawn in by Somebody I Used to Know. Seriously, I watched my news feed fill up with the same comment as friends stumbled across the song: I CAN'T STOP LISTENING TO THIS. The harmonies still give me chills. I saw the video first and it was striking to me because it reminded me of aboriginal art. (Remember, I was an Art History major and I gave a presentation to my class on the rarely researched Dreamings, specifically dot paintings.) As I researched Gotye, I found out he was raised in Australia and quickly realized he's truly an artist. Take a look at his album art, listen to interviews. The man is well spoken with a typical Aussie whit.

Making Mirrors is the third album released as Gotye and the whole album is fantastic. At first listen, it has a slight schizophrenic feel to it. There isn't a real style to his music; each song jumps to a different genre. That's what appeals to me the most. I have such a varied taste in music, and with this one artist, I can find so much to like. Like Drawing Blood has a similar feel to it as Making Mirrors, it closely follows the same energy flow with the songs. Boardface, Gotye's first album, is much more sampled. It reminds me of the early work of bands like Primitive Radio Gods and the Eels, with a tendency to use "sound collages". If you haven't already, you should definitely check out his other albums.

Enough of my rambling, you're here for the pictures. Enjoy!

The House of Blues is an amazing venue. Not all the good shows happen in New York, and if you can't make one there, I highly recommend you check out Boston. It might be a little more of a trek, but I had an absolute blast.

Kimbra opened the show strong. Her powerful voice demanded your attention. She has an amazing range and reminded me of Kate Miller-Heidke, with a No Doubt edge to her. It was impressive. Although she was set up on the opposite side of the stage from me, I took a handful of shots. She was very emotional and passionate; a real joy to photograph.

There was a long break between sets, probably close to a half hour. Things got a bit pushy at this point, as late arrivals wanted to get closer to the stage. The mantra for the night: WIDE BASE! STAY LOW! I started out the night about three rows back, but by the time Gotye came on, it was more like five. I shot around a lot of people, including a six foot plus giant that ended up in front of me. I'm getting pretty good at maneuvering myself and my camera around people.

Gotye opened with the lights down low for Eyes Wide Open and it remained that way for the entire song. I snapped a silhouette shot because I love those then enjoyed the music. The song was just as moody as the light and it really forced you to listen which I appreciated.

Then the lights came on so we could all get a good look at Wally. The House of Blues has some beautiful light and it was a joy to shoot and play with.

You might have seen this picture yesterday, which I chose as my photo of the week. The light kicked up on his face and I knew I nailed it. I wanted to make sure I captured Wally in his element: playing drums. Love, love, love this shot, and the companion to it is below.

Multi-instrumentalist Tim Shiel was directly in front of me and had some nice light.

A shout out to the people "in the middle bit" for Smoke and Mirrors. The House of Blues is set up similarly to Terminal 5, with two balconies and the floor, but the sound is much better. Wally commented that he liked the set up, with all the interesting places for people to hide.

There was a lot of fun between the band members. Lucas started hitting Wally's synthesizer with his bass during State of the Art and Wally tried to block him with his mallets. I wish there was more light in this picture, but I'm glad I caught it all the same.

State of the Art, a classic Aussie tongue in cheek commentary on the overproduced music business, was followed up by Thanks for your Time, a lesson in dealing with frustrating corporations that are only in it for your money. Wally lead the audience in a sing along during it, and yes, his forearms are longer than my entire arm.

Some more dramatic light during Somebody That I Used To Know.

The crowd was singing along so loudly, I could barely hear Kimbra. I loved the way Kimbra and Wally didn't make eye contact. It added to the drama and tension of the song.

Such an emotional song, which resulted in some incredible shots.

Save Me is my favorite Gotye song. It's been the last song over in my 2012 playlist. It has such an amazingly positive message, I instantly fell in love. I imagined him conducting the audience to sing the harmonies ala Ben Folds and that's exactly what happened.

It took the crowd a while to catch on to the sing along. Many of them were just shouting, which prompted a funny response. "Don't scream, sing the part! God damn it!" Wally joked. I shot a lot during this song, knowing there would be a lot of passion exuded.

Heart's a Mess ended the set. I kept trying to get a shot of Wally playing the finger cymbal, but there wasn't enough light. Take my word for it: a nearly seven foot bean pole Aussie playing a miniature hand held cymbal was ridiculous.

The lights were once again low for the first song of the encore, Bronte. He requested the crowd take a moment to settle down, give the person next to them a hug and not to say a word. Unfortunately, despite a lot of shushing, the crowd never really stopped talking, so they really missed out on the delicate performance. I think a lot of musicians would've been bent out of shape, but Wally bounced back thanking those of us that were quiet. He quickly quipped that the rest of the crowd needed to shut up. Good on ya!

For the song In Your Light, I felt the need to pull back on my zoom. The stage was really well lit, as was the audience, so I tried to capture some of that energy. I was really happy with the variety of shots I got during it.

He closed out the night with I Feel Better, a high energy song. It also had some lovely back lighting.

I managed to capture a couple nice shots of Lucas and Wally together rocking at the end.

Set List
Eyes Wide Open
Only Way
Easy Way Out
Smoke & Mirrors
State of the Art
Thanks for Your Time
Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You
Somebody I Used To Know
Save Me
Heart's A Mess
In Your Light
I Feel Better

A big thanks goes out to Matt and George. Not only did they agree to go to this concert with me before they had even heard who was playing, they had to put up with a lot of drunk girls trying to sweet talk their way past them. You guys are the best! 

I was pleasantly surprised with the full band, which I wasn't expecting. I wasn't sure how I'd like a mostly sampled concert, so I'm glad that wasn't the case. The band names from what I caught during intros were: Michael Everson on drums, Ben Edgar on guitar, Tim Shiel on synths/xylo, Lucas Taranto on bass.

Gotye absolutely lived up to my expectations. They were an incredibly solid live band, passionate and intense. It was well worth the wait and the distance that I traveled to see them. For me, it felt amazing to be shooting a concert again. My pictures of Aimee Mann were only so-so and I didn't really take many of Shatner. I really am happiest and most alive when I'm in the thick of things at a concert. The biggest part of photography is seeing the light and knowing how to use it. I feel like I'm really becoming accomplished at that. It doesn't even matter whether I have my DLSR or my point and shoot any more; I know how each camera will work and how much I can push them. (Although I'd be much happier shooting every concert with my DLSR!)

And what better way to show you, than one more shot during In Your Light.


  1. I was at the show too.  You do a great job of capturing the emotion in his performance.  I agree that your shot taken during "The Only Way" is your best.  You should post it on FB page so other fans can admire it.

  2. Audra NapolitanoApril 3, 2012 at 8:04 PM

     Thanks so much, Annie! I was waiting for a little work to be done on my main website before emailing a few shots over to the band. Keep your fingers crossed!