Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gotye at Radio City Music Hall 09.25.12

"Things change. Always do. You'll get your chance. The important thing is when it comes, you gotta grab it with both hands and hold on tight."
– Otis from The Last Starfighter

I wrote a lengthy post earlier in the week which discussed how this whole opportunity came about. You can read that here. I've received numerous tweets and comments on how much people enjoyed that post. Thank you! I love being able to share it with you!

Radio City Music Hall is an amazing venue. From the architecture to the sound quality, the comfy seats and well dressed ushers, it is all class. It made for a different Gotye concert experience.  Radio City almost felt like the Gentleman's Gotye show; the band wore dress shirts and shiny shoes, the crowd was respectfully quiet throughout the night. It made some of the softer songs, Bronte and Giving Me A Chance, so much more impactful.

Gotye as a live band has grown leaps and bounds since I saw them in March. I was looking forward to hearing a longer set, the House of Blues show was about 45-50 minutes, with a greater variety of songs from their earlier catalog. The guys look so much more comfortable on stage and it was a real joy to see how much fun they were having. Every member of the band bounced between instruments all the while back dropped by amazing visual art. It is an incredible feast for the senses and beyond amazing to photograph.

I promised not to go on too long in this post. Let's just get to the pictures!

The Only Way
I have a soft spot for silhouette shots; there's something iconic about them. The show starts and the lights haven't fully come up yet. The screen behind the band comes on and you see the outline of the performer. You've waited months for this moment, for this experience, and now it's here.

Tim Shiel dancing. This was on my shot list and was taken within seconds of the band on stage. I love how into the music the entire band is.

I thought Wally looked like a fencer in the first shot of this series.

As I said in my previous post, this could've very easy been a Tim Shiel photo shoot. He had great light and I was set up directly in front of him. For those of you that haven't already done this, take a listen to some of Tim's solo work, Faux Pas. I've found that it's great photo processing music.

Drummer Michael Iveson. I really wanted to make sure I got pictures of the entire band, but the combination of low light, stands and cymbals really made this a challenge.

What I loved about my position was that I was able to capture a lot of the visuals in this song. I knew Wally really wanted to see that in the pictures because it is such a big part of their live show.

Ah, the Gotye howl. I think everybody that has shot a show at this point has a picture similar to this one. I like that mine has some color behind it.

This is one of my favorite shots of the night. Two brilliant musicians both looking pretty intense.

While I was busy shooting what I could see, I kept an eye on the other musicians. Lucas Taranto moved farther back onto the stage, finally giving me a clear view of him. Throughout the entire concert, band members watch what the others are doing, similar to the way The Punch Brothers are live.

Lucas making his way back to the front of the stage with plenty of attitude.

Mostly clear shot of the rhythm section

What Do You Want?
Wally came to the mini drum kit at the front of the stage for the second song. I remember the photographers on my side breathing a sigh of relief to finally have an unobstructed view of him. I captured some great pictures during this song, but there was no way to get the visuals behind him from my angle.

One of the biggest challenges of photographing Wally is that he rarely sings with his eyes open. Shoot enough frames and you'll catch it eventually.

I'm not sure why I like the harsh lighting in this picture so much, but I do.

I went back to Tim to get another visual shot. It really does make the pictures so much more interesting.

I put together a couple of sets because of Wally drumming because I couldn't pick which one I liked best. I really like all of these because they were something I hadn't seen from other photographers before. Wally had turned directly to the left side, giving me the perfect opportunity to get some drumming portraits. Did I mention how glad I was that I picked the left side?

You really get a chance to see just how much fun he's having. Yes, the intense pictures where Wally belts out powerful notes are amazing, but I'd rather capture someone loving what they do.

With some creative mic stand cropping, I was able to eek out a picture of guitarist Ben Edgar.

While everyone was focused on Wally, I saw Tim waving his arms around out of the corner of my eye. I zoomed out and actually caught a couple of nice smiles on his face. Nothing gets past me, Mr. Shiel!

Addressing the crowd

Easy Way Out
The third song already? I managed a couple of shots with some white light still hitting Wally and Tim before a red flood light from the side of the stage pretty much blinded me.

I kept shooting even though my color was done for. A quick switch over to black and white in post process gave me another handful of keepers.

I really like the energy captured in these two shots. Wally was running back and forth across the stage between drum kits. While I had no angle at the back kit, I waited for him to return to the front. It's not easy to tell yourself to wait it out when you know you have but a few seconds left to take pictures, but I'm glad I did.

After the third song, I gathered my gear, thanked the fans directly behind me who I hoped I didn't distract or annoy too much and walked back out to the lobby. I threw my camera in my bag as quickly as possible, pulled out my ticket and took my seat. Again, apologies to the people in my row that had to stand up in the middle of a show; that always drives me crazy.

Thanks For Your Time
Ok, so technically, I wasn't supposed to be shooting any more, but come on. I refrained as much as possible, but when the entire band came up front, I couldn't not snap a few more frames. I tried to be as stealthy as possible, but didn't push my luck.

New York has a law that indoor live performances have to end at 11:00 PM. The band came back out after the briefest round of applause I've ever seen. Wally announced that they had five minutes to be able to play their entire encore. I have to say, the band showed great restraint and maturity. They played one song and knew they had to wrap it up. Think back to July, where Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen played 50 minutes past curfew, which cost them $1,000 per minute. What about Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day flipping out after his set was cut short at IHeartRadio just days earlier? Of course, I would've loved to have heard more music, but the guys were out of time and respected that. Wally tossed his drum sticks into the crowd and told them to come see them in two days at Williamsburg Park to see the rest of their set. Cheeky till the last minute.

Again, when the guys lined up at the end of the show, I tried to get a decent bowing shot.

Set List:
• The Only Way
• What Do You Want?
• Easy Way Out
• Eyes Wide Open
• Smoke and Mirrors
• State of the Art
• Thanks for Your Time
• Dig Your Own Hole
• Night Drive
• Giving Me A Chance
• Bronte
• Somebody That I Used To Know
• Save Me
• Heart's A Mess
• Seven Hours With a Backseat Driver

Normally, I end my concert posts with what's become my signature shot: a detail of the performer's shoes. Although I was right at the edge of the stage, I couldn't go higher than stage level. Sadly, there are no shoe shots from this night. Instead, I'm putting in the last picture of the night, which I had featured as my Photo of the Week last week. It's a Polaroid picture of Wally at the after party. It's probably one of my favorite portrait shots of all time.

One of the things I admire most about Gotye and his creative process is the use of quirky, old instruments and devices and the way he integrates them into his unique style of music.  I feel the same fondness for old cameras and equipment. I have four different Polaroids, but the SX-70 is my favorite. It's the original Instagram.

If you want to learn more about the camera I used, check out this awesome instructional video from the '70s.

The experience was out of this world and I would've been completely content if it ended here. But it doesn't. I also attended the Williamsburg Park show and with Wally's permission, photographed the entire show. I hope to start processing those photos over the weekend and get a portion of them up next week. Unending thanks to Wally and his staff for this opportunity, and again, to my readers old and new.


  1. Beautiful captures ! Thank you for sharing !

  2. Wonderful work, Audra! All the shots are so beautiful. And the shot of Tim smiling, that's like capturing a shot of a unicorn, good on ya! :}

  3. Cynthia, this has to be my favorite comment of all time!

  4. Cheri, thanks!

  5. Haha! His smile is definitely a rarity. Thanks for sharing your work!

  6. Audra,
    lovely work! It's wonderful to make another connection with such a talented photographer! You did them all justice X10!!

  7. I love re-living the night through your sumptuously-colored
    photos, Audra. You really do justice to both the fan-experience AND the live performance,
    capturing the really immersive visuals and movements on stage.

    From the “Gotye Howler Pose” to Tim’s smile (I thought that
    was legend!) to the lovely shots of Wally on drums and the entire band at the
    end of the night (my favorites), the entire photo-set looks great!

    Thanks for sharing it with us, as well as for
    including the story behind it, too.

    I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work.

  8. Thank you so much, Paige! Very glad to have connected with the Wall-Nuts!

  9. Great photos, Audra. I particularly like the 2 together where you talk about him having fun. You really captured the excitement he has when playing - you can almost read his thoughts ( oooh I'm going to hit that cymbal now!!!). I remember seeing your photos of him from the HOB concert and thought how great the were/are. Glad you made it to this show too.

  10. Those are wonderful photos. I LOVE THEM! Plus your subject matter is captivating to say the least. Keep up the great job. Can't wait to see more. You should make a book with those! Excellent! Let me know when you post more at any other upcoming Gotye concerts. Thanks!