DIIV, a five piece from New York played to a packed Rough Trade back in March. The band throws up a huge hazy wall of woozy-reverb underpinned by melodic guitar and driven on by Ben Newman’s drumming. All of which forms the expansive foundations for the vocal harmonies of Zachary Cole Smith and Colin Caulfield. It’s an exciting mix, but balanced. No one element overpowers the other, and the result is at times delicate and dream-like, but in others builds up in to enthralling but chaotic and stormy crescendos.
At the end of the gig I really didn’t think this set of photos were going to work out well… DIIV filling the whole stage, a full-house, and a more subtle use of the projector than I’ve encountered before combined to make me work really hard to get good shots. In the end, I think changing position and lenses and taking a different approach to setting the camera up enabled me to pull it off and I was quite relieved and pleasantly surprised with the results.
Previously I’ve seen artists like Bill Baird and Yahyel use the projector to throw bright contrasting abstract images on to the band, in practice the projector acts as an extra complimentary layer on the normal lighting set-up. In contrast, DIIV add texture to their atmospheric sound by projecting grainy home videos on to the band during the performance, so to get the effect of the images, the stage lights have to be kept low which means quite a chunk of the stage isn’t really lit and impacts the shutter speeds I can get away with… (makes for a great show for the crowd through!) The twin saving graces which provided some colour and depth to the shots were the uplighting of the drum kit and the randomness of the glitter ball. After a few complete failures and some (really) badly exposed shots I hit on slowing things right down, lining up on the shot I wanted and used spot metering and exposure lock. Then I waited for the intensity of the projection to cycle (and for guitarist Andrew Bailey to move… I didn’t usually have long to wait for that) to get the shots of frontman Zachary.
There’s rather a lot of DIIV to get on the tiny stage at Rough Trade! A packed stage and highly mobile performers meant shooting through the gaps with a long lens turned out to be a risky affair with a lot of shots of indistinguishable, blurred “things” being the main result. So, I broke out the wide-angle lens opened the aperture as wide as I dared to get as much depth-of-field as possible took the shutter speed down and focussed on framing the stage, all of which really brings out the the movement in DIIV’s performance in a few of the shots!
Rough Trade East 16/03/2016
More photos here…