Being friends with Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, their guitarist Paul approached me few weeks ago to ask me to be their photographer for their first hometown show in over a year. I have directly accepted, as I had, yet, never had an AAA pass, allowing me to shoot from the stage sides, go where I want, when I want, not stick on the photo pit (which was absent this day in this venue), or push people so I can shoot.
Arriving in the afternoon, hanged with my friends of The Earl Grey and The Great Divide, and the later asked me if I could document their set, the last one from their EP “White Bird” era, and guitarist’s last show. Again, I have accepted, and got ready as hours passed.
When I got in the venue at around 2pm, some people were already queuing up in front of the venue, and Chunk! were on stage, starting their soundcheck. After long minutes, trying to figure how to place backlines, Eric (Chunk! guitarist) in the crowd area, checking the volume, and testing samples (including an epic intro), Chunk! were ready, and headed back to their dressing room, full of food and beers. Tour stories told to their sound guy of the day, me listening. Stress level increased to Bert (vocals) as hours passed, after doing some interviews, worried about the turnout, as pre-sales were not high at the moment (spoiler: the show ended up almost sold out).
After doors opened, the first band came on stage, and from this moment, everything went wrong. Taking too long to play, or set up, or leave the stage, the whole night took 15 minutes late in everything. The Great Divide had to hurry to build their stage after doing a fast promo shot in their dressing room, do a last minute sound check, connect all the cables, and move the venue up and down. Not saying that TGD stole the show, but were totally wanted this night. So it was my first time, stage side, behind the amps, doing everything to avoid being kicked by a band member jumping. The worst thing were the size of the stage, and the lights. The size, first. It does matter. When you cannot access to the sides of the stage, and shoot properly, you know it’s going to be a long night. The only option left, as there was no photo pit, was to stand behind the walls of amps, and even if I’m not small, I couldn’t correctly see what was going on the stage. Luckily, a small spot on the opposite side of the stage was free, getting me, running half bent, and hoping that I would not fall. From this side, I could get some good shots of Seb (vocals) interacting with the crowd. Thanks Seb! For the end of their set, we agreed on doing something I have dreamt of doing ever since I started photography: a group shot with the venue. Going behind the drums set to do it: Priceless. My only fear was that my camera would refuse to work, settings would go crazy or anything. Thankfully it didn’t.
After TGD set, The Earl Grey got ready, and having their own photographer, I decided to go back to Chunk!’s room and chill with them, knowing that I had nothing to do for the next 40 minutes, before the stage change, and Chunk!’s show. But I had totally forgotten that Paul would jump on stage to sing a song he’s featured in, and didn’t capture the moment. More tour stories, getting to know the inside of this Parisian band that is touring the world, that was in Japan and Australia a month ago, and is going back to South-East Asia in the following weeks, before an other UK headlining tour, after playing few weeks ago the Vans Warped Tour UK. And killing it. Being their first headline show in over a year (the band opened for Yellowcard in their winter European tour earlier this year), Chunk!’s former drummer came in, a bit bittersweet, as much as many of Chunk!’s friends, with AAA passes as well, allowing them, thus, to be stage side during the show, making my mission even more complicated given the size of the stage… The stroboscopic lights, and lights in general, this night were awful, and I have deleted more than half of what I shot, and with an ISO set at 800, many shots were grainy. On focus, but grainy, making me disappointed on my shots, not being happy of them. But the band seemed to like them, so I’m happy, and it’s all that matters. Some Belgium fans came to the show, Bert came to them, and I got some pretty nice shots of him smiling, interacting with the crowd, the kind of shots I like. After the encore, we agreed that we would take a group shot, and again, my fears expressed above came back, but I nailed it. No intention to brag here. After this shot, Bert, way too happy, invited the venue to come on stage, but “forgot” that “Restart” was not the last song, and band mates (Mathias, bass, and Paul) had to climb amps to continue playing, while Chunk! former drummer was protecting the drum set of the new one (Bastien). Getting people step down back to the pit was long and difficult, as everyone wanted their selfies on stage… After few minutes, and the end of their iconic and most known song “In Friends We Trust”, the band greeted goodbye the audience, and promising to not wait another year to come back.
Thank you Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! and The Great Divide for having me with you on this date, it helped me a lot. Thank you Alternative Live for the event, thank you Heineken and Monster Energy for getting me hydrated all day long, thank you Nikon and GoPro for the gear, and thank you to the fans present this night.
Nikon D7100 + 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6
GoPro Hero 3 mounted on camera flash grip.