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WORLD TOUR #3 : SOUTH EAST ASIA [1]

Finally putting together my thoughts on the last week in South East Asia – I’m currently in Melbourne Airport waiting on our connecting flight to Auckland, New Zealand. It’s an overnight flight with a 4hr layover in between, so hopefully I’ll be able to get enough sleep to battle the Bali flu me & Sam have come down with today. Airports are a very common sight on this tour, I think this is my 14th flight in less than 3 weeks, and they’re not much fun with the amount of gear we’re carrying.

A week ago today we flew from Hong Kong – which we’d all grown very much fond of, to Bangkok, Thailand, and begun the South East Asian leg of the World Tour. We all looked forward to these dates, as we’d heard from friends bands’ and seen online that the shows can be crazy, and we were well aware lots of fans were waiting from feedback on the ready-accessible Facebook & Twitter, as opposed to the week before in China.

We arrived to a rather bleak looking Bangkok, it’s streets noticeably dirtier and buildings delapidated than the impeccable Hong Kong. After a much more relaxed few days prior, the daily schedule of an international tour kicked in again – 6AM start, much of the day spent waiting at airports & in flight, only arriving at the hotel in the late afternoon, with just enough time to eat before soundcheck, then doors open. After the show everyone is usually eager to get a few hours sleep before the same again the next day. This can make it difficult to get a variety of shots to do new cities and countries justice. Often many of the location shots are shot out of the van or taxi window, with as much as possible gathered from the block around the venue. If I’m lucky I’ll be in a hotel room with a view, so I can setup some timelapse cameras. It takes some to ingenuity to shoot original shots everyday with this kind of schedule.

The standard of the Bangkok venue and equipment (the band only tour with guitars & drum breakables, so rely on the local promoter/venue for amps, cabs & drum kit) was disappointingly poor, and dampened spirits somewhat. No support band and a venue crew that couldn’t speak English meant a very interesting gig. But as the first song of the set kicked in, what we’d heard about the crowds here proved true and the locals put on an incredible disply. I shot the first half of the set with a variety of wide and tight angles, in addition to some slow-motion to give a good variety for the edit, before finding an elevated position at the end of the bar to stage left, where I shot the remainder of the set on the 7mm fisheye. The venue space was tight, and this was the only option to capture both the band and crowd in the last few heavy parts of the set.

The next day followed the same schedule, though as we arrived into Singapore, it’s more westernized architecture welcomed us from the visually unfamiliar Bangkok.

With the usual afternoon arrival and just enough time to spare at the hotel, were overjoyed to find out they had a rooftop swimming pool. A real bounty for footage here, with the Singapore skyline in the background, it massively helped to break the trap of shooting repetitive shots I described earlier.

One of my favourite peices of gear I purchased for this tour is the Lifeproof iPhone case. I used to use a bulkier Speck case, as I’m always careful whilst away on a tour to protect my phone – if it gets smashed repair is often not an option until I’m home, and an out of action phone is not good for so long. Aside from being shockproof, the Lifeproof case is completely waterproof, meaning you can shoot underwater with it. On top of that the speakers work perfectly whilst submerged, and introduce a completely new sensation of listening to music underwater. Incredibly cool.

The venue in Singapore once again let us down, with a bizarre stepped floor, PA system hanging in front of the stage, and one monitor for the whole band.

And just as the day before, the crowd proved non of these things matter, giving an incredible reception. The band commented it was one of their top 3 favourite shows some of them had ever played, it really felt crazy to be so far away from home to see them receiving such a reaction. The bizarre layout of the venue actually enabled me to get some cool & unusual angles, and I spent much of it on top of a DJ booth positioned to the back right of the stage, allowing shots like this [11-16mm f2.8]

The following day we caught another early flight to Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. We all had this penned to be one of the best shows, and the crowd very much proved their worth.

After the disappointing venue setups of the last couple of shows, we were all overjoyed to arrive at a ‘proper’ venue, with large stage, monitors, great lighting and sound engineers. A very welcome change. It was particularly nice to be able to get access to each side of the stage from the back, as well as behind the amps & drums, and also an easy passage to the front of the venue balcony. It really was one of the funnest shows I’ve shot in ages, and for the first few songs had a serious adrenaline rush trying to capture the chaos. The singalongs throughout the set were absurdly loud, and really drove in the importance of this show to the Malaysian crowd.

It’s difficult to try and describe this without sounding big-headed, but the number of people at the show who recognised me and my work made me feel incredibly humbled. Getting my photo taken with ‘fans’ is not something I am at all used to, it really felt special and I truly appreciate anyone who said hello that evening.

After a flying visit to the Petronas Towers[insta link] after the show, we had our heads down, eager for the few days in Bali that were to follow, which would really see the highs and lows of touring pushed to their extents…

Photo credit: Kopigo & madmaulidi

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