The Ettes in Vera

Checking out the gigs in the Vera venue in Groningen a while ago, I noticed the name The Ettes and reading the announcement I got very intregued: Great Garage-rock band with punky edges and vocals reminiscent of 60’s country. The Ettes had already toured with names like The New York Dolls, Gossip,  Kings Of Leon and (my favorite) The Black Keys and their latest album got great reviews. All in all more than enough encouragement to go and see this band.

They played in Groningen last night and were even better then I had imagined. Coco the singer/guitarist has a great voice but drummer Poni just blew me away. Style, rhythm and looks, that has to be a female drummer :) And she was phenomenal, ferociously driving the band on and creating a fantastic rhythm together with male bassist Jem. From what I’ve read this trio makes up The Ettes, but they had an extra guitarist with them on stage.

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Apparently they’re about to tour with Jack White’s Dead Weather shortly, so go see them in the small venues while you still can. They’ll be in the big venues on their own shortly.

El Pino & The Volunteers in Vera

On Thursday February 18 El Pino & The Volunteers played at the Vera venue in Groningen. Opening for them was The Information, a fairly new band from Meppel (nl).

The Information played a great set. The voice was incredibly familiar, but I couldn’t really recall what it reminded me of. I’ve been thinking about that a lot and I think it’s the Norwegian band Helldorado. But it’s been a while since I saw and heard Helldorado, so I’m not 100% sure. The Information played a great set, but it was weird seeing the audience so far in the back.

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After a quick stage rebuild and a large audience increase El Pino & The Volunteers, led by frontman David Pino, took to the stage. The bandmembers have quite a history. Nearly all of them have a history in various punkbands. Longing for other, ‘simpler’ music, El Pino & The Volunteers was born and had -initially- a rootsy Americana-sound. However after the first album and an extensive and successful tour one of the bandmembers (and with that the banjo player) quit. If I remember correct I saw one of their very last concerts in Hoogeveen back then. After two years the band is back with a new album and sounds a lot punchier and pop/rock.

The concert in Vera was terrific. The band played with lots of enthusiasm, the venue was well filled and the concert just flowed and had a lovely raw edge. Lots of new songs, some oldies and before we knew it 18 songs were played and the gig was over.

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I would like to express my thanks to the stagelight operator. Can’t remember the time I had such an amount of light, it was AWESOME!

Panorama photos of Assen

I recently posted a blog on my new Nodal Ninja 3 panorama head for my camera gear. However, I hadn’t really found the time to test the device. For those that thought (like me a while ago) that it was mearly a matter of installing the head, hooking up the camera and shoot… well it’s not really like that. Not at all. You need to do some work first to get the right shots.

In the past week I read reviews and tutorials, learned about the Nodal point (you set up the panorama head so the lens is rotating around it’s nodal point, this assures seamless stitching of photos) and fount the nodal point for a few of my lenses. I first tried a set of my livingroom and then went in search for the right software. This wasn’t that either. TheCanon Photostich program turned out not to work in Apple Snow Leopard, the freeware software Hugin made photos that looked like they were thought up by Esher of H.R. Giger and not like a panorama at all. Also the Photomerge option of Photoshop didn’t work at all, it could not make any decent panorama of the supplied photos. Eventually I found PTGui and that’s just incredible.

So now that I had a working setup and the means to produce a panorama, it was time to take the kit outside. I first did a simple walk just outside of Assen and tried a few with my 15mm fisheye and also one with my 50mm lens (different Nodal point, but I remembered what it was). However, I also wanted to try a few with buildings, so I headed to the center of Assen and shot some over there.

The way it works is really simple. Setup the tripod, make sure it’s level and shoot the photos all the way round. I shot 18 (at 20 degrees intervals) per photo. Back home I fed the photos into PTGui and that turned them into lovely panoramas. Here are a few that I uploaded to Flickr (check them there for large views):

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There are a few afterthoughts… I really need another tripod. My Manfrotto 055 is a great tripod, but way to heavy and large to easily carry around. Also a remote trigger would be better to make sure I don’t shake the camera when taking the photos. oh… and I had just thought that a macro lens in combination with a panorama head when I found the settings for the 100mm Canon macro lens with the Nodal Ninja set. So don’t be surprised if that lens is added to my collection at some point this year ;) All in all I’m very happy that the Nodal Ninja 3 works so well and I can’t wait for the summer to come and to find some wonderful locations to make more panoramas.

Benjamin Herman Kwartet in Simplon

On February 11 Benjamin Herman, well known for his part in the New Cool Collective jazz band came to Groningen. Not as a New Cool Collective gig, but with a quartet and under his own name: The Benjamin Herman Kwartet. Still very jazz, amazingly cool and it’s still absolutely brilliant, just fewer people on stage. But the names on stage are impressive: Carlo de Wijs on a modified Hammond organ, Jesse van Ruller on guitar and Martijn Vink on drums. Herman himself of course on saxophone and occasionally on tambourine. The gig was steaming (the fact that the venue was packed helped a lot too). Had a terrific night, only the lights could have been a bit better (what is it with these endless red lights on stage, are they cheaper?).

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Lou Barlow in Platformtheater

Last night Lou Barlow (known for his work in Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Sentridoh and Folk Implosion) came to the Platformtheater in Groningen. It was my first visit to this theater, but it looked great and had a fantastic atmosphere thanks to great placements of lights. The stage for the bands looked a bit makeshift though, but that didn’t matter a bit.

Opening for Lou was Vox Von Braun from Groningen. A great band, but I found the vocals a bit hard to follow. Would love to see them again sometime.

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When Vox Von Braun finished the set the stage was quickly reset for the main act: Lou Barlow & The Missingmen. Lou started solo, sounding ever so fragile. Then the Missingmen took their place on stage and the concert gained a lot of power. As an encore, Lou played a bunch of requests. He did this solo again and it sounded (like the rest of the gig) absolutely fantastic. Had a terrific night.

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Camera gear – Nodal Ninja 3

I’ve been reading about panorama photos for a while and like the shots you can get with the right gear. And then suddenly I found this Nodal Ninja set. It’s affordable and looks like great fun to use. So as my birthday is creeping nearer, I decided I’d allow myself this set as my birthday present. The company I usually order my gear at, had it ‘on order’ for a while now, so when I found it to be on stock at a different company and for the same price, I decided to not take any chance and order it. It’s a bit early so I’m not allowed to play with it very much yet, but hey; I did get my own personal panorama kit today :D

The images aren’t perfect, but I wanted to show what it looks like. I’ll try some panorama pictures soon, when I find the time.

The full name of this kit is “Nodal Ninja 3 MKII + RD8 Rotator“. The Nodal Ninja 3 part is the bracketing system to install the camera on, the RD8 is the lower part; the rotating head. The RD8 uses a screw to turn in a specific amount of degrees (from 20 to 120).

Joan As Police Woman in De Oosterpoort

Last night the ‘normal’ concert season started with a terrific gig by Joan As Police Woman. The Eurosonic/Noorderslag days are great, but incredibly hectic. Last night I was able to enjoy the whole concert, and that’s a nice change :)

Joan Wasser (the ‘Joan’ of ‘Joan As Police Woman’) is a great singer/songwriter and mixes musical styles with great results. The gig itself was great. Lots of songs from the albums ‘Real Life’ and ‘To Survive’ and some unexpected covers. In between the songs there was time to kid around a bit with band and audience, to learn some Dutch and to exchange some fashion tips on boots. Not a sold out venue, but a good turn-up anyway and a fantastic way to start the season

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Sports – World Championship Icespeedway

I just found out that in March this year (as actually every year) the World Championship Motorcycle ice Racing (a.k.a. Icespeedway) is held in Assen, in De Bonte Wever, from March 11 to March 14. Training will be held on Thursday and Friday, races on Saturday and Sunday. A spectacular way of getting into sports photography :D

Noorderslag – De Staat

The last band I saw at Noorderslag before my feet, legs, back and shoulder finally gave in was another favorite and a great live band: De Staat, an Alt.Rock band that, like Kyteman, was a sensation on the previous Noorderslag edition and has since played loads of stages and festivals. They’ve absolutely lived up to the hype and this gig was no different

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And that’s it for this edition of the Eurosonic/Noorderslag festival. But we’ll be back next year, I can hardly wait to delve myself into the chaos once again.

Noorderslag – Popprijs Kyteman

The big event at Noorderslag is the ‘Popprijs’, a prize awarded to a Dutch band or artist that made the most significant contribution to Dutch pop music in the past year, chosen by a jury. Just about every year the winner is a bit of a surprise as it’s always another band/artist that the audience things ought to get it. This year the winner managed to turn quite a lot of heads as this time jury and audience were in total and almost unanimous agreement. The Popprijs (and 10.000 Euros) went to Kyteman’s Hiphop Orchestra. The huge band (20 members) played it’s first gig precisely one year ago, at Noorderslag 2009. In one year it managed to become Netherlands most popular band, playing at just about any festival and every venue, ending the successful year in a completely sold out Heineken Music Hall. All this without any huge commercial budget, it was all done via word-of-mouth and Internet-options. The tradition of winning the Popprijs is that the winner gets soaked in beers, thrown from the audience (with us poor photographers bang in the middle ;)). The Popprijs ceremony was opened by radio 3FM DJ Giel Beelen, who got soaked in beer crowdsurfing to the stage

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After the beer-ceremony Kyteman’s Hiphop Orchestra played one last gig (it was started as a project with the intention to disband after one year) to a ecstatic audience

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Noorderslag – C-Mon & Kypsky and the Metropole Orchestra

For Noorderslag electro-pop-rock-jazz-balkanbeats band C-Mon & Kypsky had a very special show in mind. Not only were they backed by the internationally acclaimed Metropole Orchestra (conducted by Jules Buckley), but they also hauled in lot of special guests. The show defies genres as rock, rap, jazz, soul and every other thinkable genre had it’s moment in the spotlight. A terrific show. I was not able to get all the guests and it pains me to say that I was also not able to get to a location where I was able to shoot the whole stage (it was way to crowded). Special guests that I did manage to shoot were: Jiggy Djé, Giovanca, Janne Schra (singer of Room Eleven), Anneke van Giersbergen (singer of Agua de Annique) and Benjaming Herman of New Cool Collective together with the ‘night-mayor of Rotterdam’ Jules Deelder. A fantastic gig with lots of greats musicians

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Noorderslag – Moke and DeWolff

Moke, the Britrock band from Amsterdam led by the Irish Felix Maginn, has been around for a few years now and has built quite a reputation. Musically they’re very close to Paul Weller (with whom they’ve also toured)

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A lot younger is the band DeWolff, not to mention it’s members. Three teenagers armed with a drumkit, a Hammond and a guitar, they rock the stage with a sound that draws it’s energy from the early years of psychedelic rock. Old bands like The Doors, Deep Purple, Taste. A fantastic sound and room to spare for long jams and all that brought with youthful enthusiasm. The only problem I had was the same I had with the afternoon session at Platosonic: a huge drumsolo at the start of the set. I’m not that big a fan of most drum-solos anyway, but to put them at the beginning of the set just kills the flow of the gig. Apart from that point of criticism a great gig

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Noorderslag – Bettie Serveert and Anne Soldaat

Back to the 3voor12 room for two of my favorite Dutch bands. In the afternoon I had already seen a short set of Bettie Serveert and I felt extremely happy when I was able to get myself a half-decent spot in the 3voor12 room to see them again. However, this time I was pressed for time, so I didn’t stay very long, but with the two sets combined I did get to see the band quite a bit

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I was actually way on time for the Anne Soldaat gig and stood fairly in front of the queue waiting for the doors to open. Anne Soldaat’s album ‘In Another Life’ make it to 2nd place in my 2009 album list (only to be beaten by Vic Chesnutt) and his concert in Vera last year was one of the highlights of the gig-season. Now again it was great to see a few songs of Anne. In the afternoon I saw him play solo at PlatoSonic, here at Noorderslag he played with band

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Noorderslag – Laura Jansen, Lola Kite and Awkward I

Laura Jansen is a Dutch singer/songwriter living in L.A., musically you should think of Tori Amos and Regina Spector. She plays in the ‘Ned3 Zaal’. Ned3 is one of the three Dutch public TV-channels and the concerts here are broadcasted live on TV

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Upstairs the 3voor12 room (3voor12 is the music division of Dutch broadcaster VPRO) is the place to be to check out alternative bands such as Lola Kite. “Psychedelic space rock with an eighties pop streak” Call it what you like, I just though it was really good

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In a tent dubbed “Hilversum Mediastad” Awkward I played what I thought was a phenomenal set. The album ‘I Really Should Whisper’ is great, I was happy to see thet it’s still fantastic played live

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Noorderslag – a start

Where as EuroSonic is aimed to showcase up and coming European bands, the Noorderslag festival that immediately follows it is all about Dutch bands. Also it’s held in the Oosterpoort venue, so this night no hopping from one café to another venue. The tickets to Noorderslag were sold out in a matter of hours and so a good 8000 people flooded the Oosterpoort venue last Saturday.

I shot quit a lot of bands and so I’ll post them over various posts like I did with the EuroSonic photos. I’ll start with a set of smaller galleries of six bands. First Dutch rapper Kraantje Pappie. I ‘missed’ him earlier on at PlatoSonic but as the reviewers for FileUnder said that they’d put him in the review, I had to have some photos of Kraantje Pappie playing in the basement too. Not my style in music though

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On that same stage later in the evening, a duo called Knalpot played something I can’t quite put my finger on. Not sure if I like it or not yet

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At the Heineken Foyer The Madd played. They’re a 60’s sounding and looking band. Not bad, but I’m more of a 70’s psychedelic rock lover ;)

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Also on the Heineken Foyer was a band called Knobsticker playing “funky disco soul with a futuristic twist”

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The band Rigby got to play two sets. One on the Serious Talent Stage and one in the ‘Ned3 Zaal’. The photos are of the latter stage. This stage was designed to have a more homely feel. Rigby plays ‘catchy pop rock’

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And the last set in this post is The Mad Trist, a rockband from the southern parts of the Netherands. Light in the ‘Bizon Zaal’ was pretty grim, so photography was a challenge

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