Now and again, as I am doing this project, I get to photograph an act I really like. I have ambivalent feelings about this – sometimes I’d prefer to be just enjoying the music without thinking about taking the photograph. Sometimes though, if things go well, it adds an extra level of enjoyment to the night. When a double-bill of Dinosaur Jr and Built To Spill was announced for a May Vicar Street date it was like someone had designed a gig especially for me. I have been a giant fan of Dinosaur Jr ever since I first saw them in McGonagles in Dublin way back in 1990 or so, and all their recent reunion shows of the last few years have been fantastic. Similarly, Built To Spill have blown me away on those rare occasions I’ve caught them, and albums like Perfect From Now On and Keep It Like A Secret are, for me, just perfect exemplars of what it is possible for a rock band to be.
Weirdly though, the gig was something of a let-down. Built To Spill went on really early and people were just drifting in to the venue while they were playing. Long, awkward gaps between songs didn’t help matters and they just never really took off. In comparison to the storming gig they played to a packed, rapt Whelans the last time they were in Ireland, it was a bit disappointing. They’re still a great band – I hope they come back but can’t help feeling that it’s unlikely. Dinosaur Jr rocked the house but again the whole thing just seemed a little flat. Both audience and band have probably seen a bit too much of each other over the last few years. Still, J Mascis’s extended guitar improvisation in Forget The Swan remains one of the greatest things in music.
The photo above is of Built To Spill. It’s an 8-minute exposure. The shots of BTS came out a lot better than those of Dinosaur Jr as there was less stage lighting going on during their set. In particular, Dinosaur had some crazy front facing light blasting off from behind the drum kit every now and again that wreaked havoc with my exposures. Lesson learned here is always shoot the support band as well as the main one. Actually I had to sign some sort of photo release agreement thing in order to shoot Dinosaur Jr anyway so it would have restricted the usage of any of the photographs so I’m glad it’s the Built To Spill ones that came out best. I’m looking forward to doing more pictures in Vicar Street as it’s a really great place to do this.