rock for controversial people?

Muse: Matt at Royal Albert Hall Now typically I steer clear of any website clashing/wars and just stick to my own stuff and whatnot, but after reading an article from one of my fellow bloggers and close friends. I thought I’d share the article to those who aren’t fully in the know about the things behind it all and show my support for every word he’s said. It’s one of those things where you could either ignore and hope it doesn’t get worse or something you just need to start taking action on and pointing out that there is something fundamentally wrong about them.

I was never keen on making money from a band, quite a lot of their fanbase was built upon hosting loads of bootlegs and making it a prerequisite for users to register before being able to download it. For musewiki, I only make it a prerequisite for users to register in order to edit the pages to prevent people from easily sabotaging pages but never would I deny users information that essentially isn’t mind by forcing them to register. At the same time, never would I be charging users for content that isn’t legally my property or something that I deserve should be shared freely.

I think I could go on about this case but Stu has pretty much summarised how I feel (and I need to goto work). If other muse fansites feel the same way about this they should definitely speak up about it and not leave it as something we’d push away and ignore because we’ve been letting this happen for quite a long time already.

Muse and sugar: V Festival 08 2/2

Part 2 of this epic adventure that is V Festival 08 (though I doubt you have more anticipation for it now since it happened quite a while back haha). Mainly a photo dump of the actual gig. Anyway, the lineup sucked so badly that all I saw were Sugababes, a bit of Stereophonics and Muse, so lets get straight down to it

I only took a few shots of sugababes. It was really difficult to shoot from my position and yeah, beggers can’t be choosers. The show itself was all kinds of awesome was hits such as round round, and that song that makes you jump up and down at the end (that being their end song).

When Muse were on we knew it was going to be an epic one since it was their last show for their blackholes and revelations tour, nothing too special but enough to get you rocking out. They started off with Map of the Problematic and went through most of the popular tracks that everyone knew. The atmosphere was pretty intense and even though I was taking photos in the crowd, I was still able to rock out for a bit. Can’t help but mime sing either (because real singing involves wasting energy on your throat).

The satellites looked pretty amazing and the lights were entrancing and pretty. I think what made it even better was the fact that there was nothing else to watch the entire day and it was just such a relief when they started playing. Not sure what my favorite song was for that gig, kev had already revealed that they were going to play Deadstar for the set so I wasn’t too surprised when that came up, the synths really worked well and it makes me wonder how different it’d sound if they rerecorded it (I’m also interested in seeing Apocalype Please all disco drum beated up as well). The man with the harmonica was pretty intense, nice to see this song live and obviously Knights of Cydonia was accompanied by pervasive horse riding dance. So yeah, here’s some some photos, excuse the lack of close up shots but I was honestly nowhere near the stage this time

The v stands for mud: V festival 08 1/2

Welcome to my lovely two part post on V Festival 2008, thought I’d separate the social part of v festival and the gig part of v into two posts to make things easier to digest, granted there’s not much to talk about in the gig section so it will probably be photo flooded whilst this one will most likely be content orientated. So yeah, after being guestlisted for the lovely v festival at Staffordshire on a Sunday, I had arranged all the travel and accomodation a few weeks in advanced to ensure things go well (”well” being i can actually get there and have a place to stay), I booked a lovely hotel at the Wolverhampton Quality Hotel (where quality is oozing from the hotel so much that the word quality popped into the name of the hotel, that’s how awesome it was!) and some tiddly train rides to Wolverhapton (was about 3 hours to Wolves but 2 hours back, silly trains). Fact was I was going for the day and wasn’t really keen in heading home early or camping (that wasn’t allowed anyway what with the wristbands and not having weekend passes). The hotel seemed like the best (and warmest) option and I was surprised that it was only £48, including bed and breakfast. I had booked a holiday for Monday to ensure I had sufficient amount of rest once I arrive home (besides I don’t think work would appreciate me coming into work all muddy and bloody from the festival (mm soft skulls).

Festival checklist and hungry touts

There really wasn’t much to prepare, the only last minute thing i brought were my spotty wellies that I used for Reading Festival 2006, my bag consisted of a poncho I got from the filmfour somerset house show (mmm scarface), a hoodie in case i got cold, tickets, maps to my hotel, a notebook (containing writing instruments, post it notes and other bits and bobs), and my lovely dslr camera, dont think I bought a book for this trip, in festivals you simply assume that you’ll lose everything you own. plus i loved the idea of packing and ensuring that things were at it’s bare essentials. Once the packing it was time to put on a lovely pair of green converse chucks and hit the road. The train journey was boring as ever, but nothing internet on the phone or music on the ipod won’t kill (i actually find them to be the ultimate time killing combo, you can either read the interweb or write blogs and random entries with the lovely qwerty keypad). I eventually reached Wolverhampton to meet up with kev. He had arrived pretty early and found time to kill by asking touts how much they’d pay him for his additional V Festival VIP ticket, the story was pretty hilarious as the tout originally offered £20 which kev immediately thought “forget it” and left him, but obviously that’s how touts roll, insist that the first offer is their lowest and simply walk away, they know how to bargain (they probably try haggling at McDonalds when they order their happy meals (assuming they eat happy meals, there’s very little happiness in the life of a tout)). Kev had ignored the touts but found them to be slightly aggressive nearer the end when they kept pestering him and asking him for an offer, but obviously kev wasn’t intending on selling it. Once we met up we immediately waited outside at the shuttle bus stop place where the shuttle buses roam. There again the touters were there ready to offer kev money he cannot refuse (but did). From £20 they simply asked him how much did he want, kev asked for £100 and the tout reluctantly started to unload a few twenties from his pocket ready to hand to kev, but kev immediately changed his mind and said “nah”. Man did kev know how to piss the touts off. Kev eventually offered the ticket to a fellow muser once we were at the box office area.

Why wellies were your best friend at v festival

On the shuttle bus we talked a bit about Marley park and other bits and bobs, once we were close to the arena we donned our wellies (kev was ultra proud that he could make use of the wellies once again since he only bought them for the purpose of Marley which really wasn’t used much). Upon walking up to the box office we met a few folks, including dip. Conversation then began and slowly but surely we got our passes, and was in the arena where we met up with Stu. I think this is the point where we finally realised how important it was to wear wellies, it was just as important as our festival tickets (well not really but saying that makes it important). The fields outside the arena weren’t too bad but as soon as we saw the entrance, man how glad were we to have wellies. The v in v festival really stood for mud; rain, fields and loads of festival goers never mix. Of course having wellies on instantly had that sense of feeling as if you touched a gold star in super mario and was invincible to it’s thick and miserable aura the thick brown mud gave out (and if you listened hard enough you probably could hear the invincibility theme tune in your head as you started stamping onto the mud, killing mushrooms and turtles).

Oh did I mention about dip? he was all kinds of awesome and it was fun meeting him, it turns out that everybody including myself love dip, got to love a bit of emo. He’s in quite a few of my photos since he was “hanging out” with the folks and kev gave his VIP pass to him so he was able to chillax with us in there too.

A burger and chips stall called “burger and chips”
Not long we met up with everybody, I think from then on there was a lot of chillaxing involved, we were told that the VIP area had a Nando’s in it which got both me and kev pumped, however our dreams were immediately raped silly when all they served were nando’s burgers. You couldn’t even go “fitter with a chicken on the pitta”, nonetheless, it had to be done, me and Stu bought a nando’s burger (no idea what burger number stu was on hehe) and whipped on the extra extra extra hot sauce and feasted on the hot piece of chicken wrapped around this cold floury bun. I never liked eating food that had two temperatures at the same time, usually buns are heated up to compliment the burger but hey, we’re in a field i suppose, it reminded me of eating salmon nigiri’s where the fish was nice and warm (in the melting kind of way) however the rice was cold, these things require delicacy. Anyway, that was me on the food, I eventually spent the rest of the evening food wise having lovely “gourmet” bbq jumbo sausages, and they were bad at all, definitely had that lovely bbq feel to it and not that mass produced festival food feel. The stalls in the festivals were pretty hilarious, I was constantly pointing out the names of the stalls, going “HEY LOOK, THEY HAVE A PLACE CALLED BURGERS AND CHIPS, AND THEY SOLD BURGER AND CHIPS”, evidently stall owners assume all people are retarded and have to be pretty clear of what a stall is saying before venturing out to buy some beef tacos, noodles or whatever they fancied, though I suppose calling it “Johns Stall” really didn’t help one bit (we later on discover that this wasn’t just inside the festival, there was a kebab place called Doner Kebab in town). That’s the food commentary sorted, lets think of some more things that happened.

The special place

The VIP area was pretty nice, but somewhat lame at the same time, the bar tent had a DJ playing thumping dance music but with nobody dancing to it, it’s probably a DJ’s worse nightmare playing music to nobody, you could definitely feel the energy once you’re in there but the lack of involvement with other people was an immediate turn off, I did manage to dance for a bit when another person started dancing, but that didn’t last too long, the area was simply empty if you exclude the 3 girls who were actually using the dark dance floor as an area to get changed (weirdos). There were lots of lovely tents and seats in the guest area too, the toilets were of a better variety than the ones in the arena (obviously) and I believe kev was able to swot out a hollyoaks cast member (bless). Another good thing about the VIP area was the fact that the grass wasn’t muddy as it was out there, you could actually lie down and chillax the entire day, but that really wasn’t the point of the festival, we had like… 2 bands to see (haha). At one point we were playing buckeroo with some guy who was actually sleeping in the arena, it was pretty fun until someone poured beer on him, bad form and sleep man!

“Nobody plays you because you always win” :(

After heading off to go see Sugababes we went to the guitar hero tent since inn wanted me and kev to battle it out, the tent was a bit lame since they were playing thumping rock music meaning people couldn’t hear the songs they were playing, it was all about eye coordination and guesswork. We were given cute little guitar hero badges and waited around the booths for people to finish playing, the booth we were waiting for had two kids playing, one of them was obviously whooping the other kid, for his last he picked “Through Fire and Flames” by Dragonforce, if people have played Guitar hero 3 you should all know about this song and how painful it is to play. My heart however started racing because that was the most exciting song to play and I didn’t mind giving that kid a run for his money, the losing opponent left knowing he was most likely going to lose and so I stepped in and challenged him to a battle of guitar hero, dragonforce style. Of course we picked expert mode and then we were off. The needle indicating who was winning stayed on my side and eventually I defeated the kid, he shook my hand and then left whilst kev stepped up to battle it out on guitar hero. We picked the most obvious song on the list (Muse - Knights of Cydonia) and began rocking out (silently mind, still couldn’t hear the song and all). Now kev has actually played guitar hero a lot longer than me so I was pretty scared that he would win, but fortunately the guitar controller was shite, and kev wasn’t a fan of tremolo picking, that’s where I got all my brownie points from and defeated kev hehe. People were obviously cheering kev on more because as inn says i “always win” hence noone really wants to play me, oh cruel video gaming skills how you curse me with the lack of opponents.

After some guitar hero’ing i believe we did more lounging about, meeting up with random people, chillaxing back at the tent, and then meeting people some more, it was quite a tiring day and there really wasn’t much to watch due to the lack of good bands, it really was more about the social part of the festival where we were all together and chatting away though, and good company is usually hard to gather around since they only respond to muse gigs haha. Near the end we went off to check out Stereophonics and then found a decent spot to see Muse. That was pretty much it (the gigs will be explained on part 2 obviously).

Birthday stories and post it notes

We met up with a few musers and then went back to the campsite, halfway through we decided to take a toilet break so he headed back to the VIP area and used the nicer toilets (by this time most people were using the golden wall to relieve themselves, it’s quite a horrific event so I’ll simply skip that chapter altogether). Once settled me and kev paid the camping people a visit to celebrate Gem’s birthday. The last bus supposedly was leaving at 11:30am so we had very little time to hang around, once there we began counting down the time to Gem’s birthday, I had already given Gem my presents to her which consisted of a pink bag (because she likes pink), a fairly big cow model (because she likes cows), and a Joseph CD (because she likes theatre). I also gave everyone post it notes from that post it note project and everyone was happy to read what it said. Gem and Ste remembered to bring their post it notes to me and it was amazing seeing them, I’ll most likely update the post it note section and show you what they wrote. After pulling some party poppers and singing happy birthday to Gem (not to mention attracting some drug dealers at the same time) it was time for me and kev to depart the camping world and return to the world were beds had mattresses and showers were a mere facility and not a luxury hehe (man we did rub it in quite a bit with the hotel dwelling). I wasn’t keen on camping on the last days anyway, the last time that happened I had to sleep through toilet banging, fires, and people screaming, not to mention the ubiquitous drunk man who opens up your tent to pee inside it whilst you’re there (is it ubiquitous or is it just a mere myth that i devilishly inserted to make things interesting? alas, most likely the latter (but i’m very sure it does happen for the unfortunate ones))

Back to civilisation

It was now me and kev heading back to Wolverhampton, as kev said earlier on (Wolverhampton is shit) haha, we were misguided twice by incompetent festival staff for where the shuttle buses were and I was at a point of running to the bus stop in fear that we might miss it, strangely I still had a lot of energy left whilst kev wasn’t having any of it, he said he’d rather get a taxi than run to the bus stop hehe. Nonetheless we arrived at the bus stop and was able to board the freedom shutter bus back to civilisation. It was pretty tiring at this point, we eventually changed back to our normal shoes and sat there talking about the show and the entire day, it was a pretty nice day, nothing hectic and intense as most meetups generally are, just having one commitment (ie seeing muse at the end) was enough to make the entire day nice and relaxing. It was around 1am and we were finally at the Wolverhampton bus stop, we went to a Doner Kebab place called Doner Kebab and ordered a can of coke each, man it’s refreshing to drink some sugary water after an intense day of mud trotting and jumping up and down during Muse, all drinks are amazing when you’re thirsty enough. Once the moment was over we eventually spoke to the cab driver who was suspiciously parked right next to us in his “nonchalant” way (granted we were standing near the taxi rink) and asked him how much it was to drive us back to our separate hotels, it came out to a mere £10 so we entered the vehicle and was transported to our hotels, kevs first (grr). We agreed that if one of us wasn’t able to check in because of the time we’d taxi it to the other’s hotel and stay there. Fortunately both of us were able to check into our hotels and begin the arduous task of cleaning our wellies.

Hotel antics

I was greet by a kind lady and man at the door, they seemed very friendly and helpful, they were well aware of the festival goers so it wasn’t out of the ordinary to have people coming into their hotel all muddy and bloody, it turns out I was the last person to check in (damn toilet break for stalling time) he gave me my card key and directions to my room, I was able to catch the other staff members chillaxing in the living room, it did have that homey feel, and boy did the place smelt of “quality” teehee. Once inside my room I unpacked my bag and threw myself into the soft cuddly mattress, you suddenly realise how aching you are when you meet comfort once again, anyway, lots to do before I head to bed. I only cared about the wellies (and poncho to some extent) and used kev’s method of cleaning them which was to run them in the shower and have some scrubbing fun. The process was pretty quick but I did make a proper mess of the room. Grass and mud were all over the place which I immediately rinsed out to avoid any hotel faux pas. Once that was done I took a shower, wrote in my notebook for a bit, and began taking photos in the room, I had an urge to write a post it note to the cleaners since I was in a post it note mood so I sat at the desk and scribbled a quick message to them. Whilst all of this was happening I was texting kev back and fourth in regards to his status of cleaning his wellies and stuff, that was sorted for him but his task now was to clean up his jeans, he didn’t want to go into town (and subsequently) and Birmingham with mud all over him so he tried washing off with a the shower head. The next task was making it dry, he used the hair dryer to dry up the thing (i had a trouser press but I couldn’t be bothered with cleaning my jeans since I was going home immediately). He texted me back saying the blow dryer broke hehe, so he was stuck in wearing the jeans wet whilst sleeping *shudders*. That was pretty much it, it was a tiring day so eventually I turned off the lights and went to bed.

You can never have enough bacon.

The next morning was the best bit, I tend to wake up dead early when I’m not sleeping in my own bed or sleeping somewhere where I’m most comfortable, today I did just that, enough time to exit the room and head down for Breakfast of the buffet variety. I usually get my money’s worth at breakfast buffets. A lovely full english breakfast was exactly what I needed after an exhausting day of the yester variety. The food was pretty good for a 3 star hotel and the buffet obviously enticed me to order more than I can handle (no caps this time at least, once I was capped for ordering too much bacon :(). There were a few customers who were obviously at the festival too, intently listening to the news about the what happened at the festival last night, there was the ubiquitous review of a festival goer who sounded more like a chav being interviewed in the street than a music lover. Once breakfast was over (mmm lovely croissant) it was time to check out and head off to Wolverhampton station. With the post it note ready i left it at the most obviously place, packed my bags and vacated the quality hotel. I asked the receptionist to order me a taxi and spent three lovely british pounds for my transport to the station, the driver didn’t appreciate my constant headphone mode but I didn’t care. Once at the station I was able to say hi to kev for a wee moment and then I was off, back to the city of London. The rest of the day was spent chillaxing and making stuff.

Part two, the gigs

Purging old logs for Musewiki

I think it’s time to delete some of the old change logs for Musewiki. This should help make backing up a lot easier since the database is becoming pretty epic, though I suppose the main cause is actually the photos but nonetheless, a purge is in order. I shall propose to do it on the 15th of July (because I like that number) So make sure you’re not leaving out anything that needs restoring.

Travelling abroad to see Muse

Far away.... to see museLately I’ve been pondering, Muse have seriously become one of those bands where some fans just can’t get enough of the band and have to see them more than once during each tour. Of course, Muse are reknown for making stunning performances on stage and have won enough awards to pretty much be one of the best live acts in the Uk. But what makes a person take a nice plane to another new destination to see the band?

Now, to get some perspective on how dedicate some people are, I know people who’ve been to about 22 gigs for ONE TOUR. Not their entire gig list, just for one tour. I’ve seen the elderly females travel from the other side of the pond to catch an extra glimpse of the band and I’ve seen the ridiculous folks who came all the way from Japan to see them (wait a sec, that applies for all bands (and I’m still confused as to how the Japanese go on holiday so much, I hear that they seldomly use their holidays)). Feel free to beat those figures, I’m pretty sure there’s someone mad enough.

So yeah, this is more of an ask the readers on why they do it. Two of the staff on the Muse board crew are going to see Muse at Dublin so I wanted to see what your opinion is on gigging abroad, and whether it’s worth the effort of going.

I can understand people who’s hometown is hardly recognise which forces them to go other destinations but some people like me live in the city which makes it incredibly easy to catch the band a shed load of times. Anyway, get commenting.

Don’t forget to take note on the witty photo caption haha ;)

Sorting out 500 muse photos

I dislike deleting photos I take, these days when I come back from a gig I have about 500 shots that I need to sort out, pick and then upload onto flickr. Now usually in gig environments you’ll discover that there’s a high ratio of crap shots and good shots purely because of crazy fans pushing you, random hands in the way, or the band moving too fast etc but once you throw all them out you have about 100-200 shots of nice shots.

Now what happens next? Do I upload them all? Now if all shots were unique then hell yeah, upload them all, but this is from one gig. A magazine doesn’t show millions of photos for one gig so neither should I. It’s only best to strip out all the similar but not as epic shots and only keep the epic ones. That means comparing them against one and another and SLOWLY killing the photos off. It usually takes hours to do and is a toughie when the photos are all sharp and presentable. I do have a few rules of deciding which photo goes through, usually judging on how interesting the lights are, and how dynamic the musician’s pose is. Once we’ve declared the winners, we start killing loads of photos that are simply “bad duplicates“.

Once all that is done, next thing is mining out rare gems. Sometimes you can take perfect shots and they require very little photoshopping or editing to make it good, but there are cases where you actually need to crop or “black and whitify” the photos in order to make the photo nicer, usually killing distractions or focusing into the musician, and sometimes these cropped or edited photos beat those natural ones. It’s more apparent with gig photography since you need to immediately focus people’s attention on the band so sometimes it’s important to get that kick and draw nailed.

So yeah, an example is this bad boy.

It’s a nice shot, but the background is quite distracting, it’s wide because when shooting, I wanted to shoot him and his foot on the pedal. But when it came on the screen, it wasn’t really that interesting, and when zooming in, I discover that the shot is pretty sharp so I was able to actually crop this and focus on just the top half of Matt, and here’s the end result.

You’ll notice that this photo has a better impact since it focuses on the subject more. The crowd is quite distracting but meh, they’ll stay for now haha. This crop was done a day after uploading the photos, I was slowly swotting down photos that people weren’t keen on looking at to keep the photo count down, but this one seemed like one of those “hmm, if i cropped it, perhaps it will look better”, and it really did. It’s definitely tough work post processing these bad boys, at the end of the day I tend to stick with about 20-30 photos (the amount you can take with the disposable camera usually) I broke the boundries with Muse but hey, it’s Royal Albert Hall :p.

So yeah, when sorting out photos, it’s a pain, but if you put the time and effort you’ll yield excellent results. I hope you all enjoyed the photos, thanks for commenting on them and all.

Muse Royal Albert Hall Review

I was able to grab a ticket at the last minute and go see the band play at a very respectable and epic venue, the Royal Albert Hall, which is renowned for it’s awesome acoustics and dazzling lightings (saw a few musicals there beforehand). It was all part of the Teenage Cancer Trust charity and made everyone feel happy inside that they’ve donated some money from it all. Anyway, I’m sure most of the information can be found at Musewiki so I’ll get straight into the review.

Oh and I spoke to a ticket tout (to research on how much they were charging) about buying Muse tickets and he said £70, tut tut. He was willing to go lower but I left since I was quite disgusted.

The gig was spectacular. They did a lot of new things, a lot of right things and all in all it was a rocking gig. When Take a bow came up I immediately gave them the nod of approval knowing full well that if Take a Bow was the opener, Knights of Cydonia will be the last song (which I prefer a lot). The acoustics were amazing as well as the lighting. Their choice of songs were really good, introducing a few new riffs as well as playing some old songs such as Fury which really lighted up the stage for the die hard fans. The highlight would be when Matt got up to the organs and played Megalomania. Really making use of the venue’s facilities. Makes you wonder if that could have been an end song? (Epic but not rocky). From the gig you would have thought Matt had learnt some new facial expressions because he was pulling all sorts of faces during the gig. The highlight songs would have been, Knights of Cydonia, Megalomania, Fury and Bliss. The balloons coming out, although old, felt like it wasn’t done in a long time, probably because you rarely GET to play with the balloons on venues such as Wembley Stadium etc. It reminded me of the Brixton gig due to it’s size and everything.

Anyway, enjoy some photos! I uploaded about 50 shots so be sure to check them all out on my flickr page

The best shot! It looks epic in big!

Looks like Matt has on tooth here!

and why not, some Matt pouting, he did this pout right after Butterflies and Hurricanes, it’s weird to think you’d make that face at the last note of it.

Anyway, what did YOU think of the gig? Post your review and experiences, how awesome was the organs for you?

Muse cover: Supermassive black hole

I’ll be having a nice 1 week + holiday so I won’t be blogging much / at all, during that period. So yeah, thought I’d be nice and release one of my slightly hidden covers that I did last year. This is using pro tools so it’s slightly cooler but it’s all recorded pretty live which gives it that very raw edge. Unfortunately I sing in this one, this is probably the only cover you’ll ever hear me sing. I don’t like singing because my voice sucks and I don’t think it’ll get any better so yeah. First ever song where I really went all out on trying to get mixing and mastering done right, my first shot at it and all so I’m still learning. So yeah, I’ll be up north now, enjoy.