After the love and peace of Glastonbury 2009 comes the angst, anger and aggression of the Sonisphere rock festival at Knebworth.

Featuring rock and metal bands ranging from veteran British groups “Saxon” and “Heaven and Hell” through to the latest young bands from around the world such as “Airbourne” and “The Defiled”, it saw the usually sedate Knebworth estate turned into a mecca of metal.

On a much smaller scale than Glasto, Sonisphere aims to cater purely for rock and metal fans although the inclusion of “Bjorn Again” and a semi-acoustic travelling minstrel group called called “Blaas of Glory” performing rock covers in the billing didn’t illicit the onslaught of “piss bombs” that I’d half expected.

Highlight of the weekend by a country mile for me was Anthrax. Having grown up on them, it was fantastic to be able to shoot them again, then head straight into the crowd to enjoy the atmosphere.

The emergency drafting of former singer John Bush resulted in a hastily compiled Bush-era setlist but that certainly wasn’t a problem for me. As ever Scott Ian looked the perfect example of rock coolness.

Having enjoyed shooting the features aspect of previous festivals, I thought I’d do the same here and found a few little amusements but on the whole, the general crowd was far too well-behaved. Obviously matters were different in the mosh pit..

Having not really followed all that’s going on in the rock world, I had to get a few tips from various people with the advice to go and see Canadian group “Fucked Up” a bit of a gem. For those not in the know, lead singer Father Damien spends the show setting fire to his chest hair, igniting aerosols and falling all over the crowd. Scars on his forehead demonstrate how the bands performances usually end up. The fact that he’s a BIG fella makes quite a sight too. Now when this is combined with half of the audience being there for the decidedly tamer rock group “Thunder”, the clash was rather fun..

One of my favourite finds of the weekend came with a chance spotting of this tattoo. I really need to know what the story is. Surely it can’t have been intentional?

Having no idea on the security arrangements on-site, I decided to book into a hotel which proved rather pointless as I ended up having to drive 19 miles to reach it. Home was only 29 miles from the festival site. Doh.

Which leads me to the main point of the weekend, Metallica. If you’re going to shoot a festival, everything naturally acts as a build-up to the main event. On both days, I’d filed shots of people wearing Metallica shirts as Knebworth prepared for the headliners to take to the stage but when the time came, the bands management decided to block agency access. Newspaper photographer? Fine, come on in. Agency? Nope. It just leaves me baffled every time this happens. Why do bands think that agencies are automatically going to start making illegal copies of t-shirts while the Daily Mail will want to run a photo-set of a heavy metal band? I was angry about it last night but today I’m just confused. If anyone has any idea what the logic is, please let me know.

15 Responses to “Metal as anything”

  1. Crap!! Ignore the last link up above. It didn’t copy. :-( However, like i said, the images made the Big Picture section of the BBC entertainment page.

    Posted by pixgremlin
  2. Ha! If you think that being discriminated because you’re from an agency is bad, then listen to this 😀
    Quite recently, one of the biggest Polish football clubs has decided to change the rules around accreditations for press photographers. Now, after every match you have to give them a CD with high-res photographs from the game, and the Club picks 5 shots. Which they can later use for whatever they want. If you don’t comply then you won’t get in.
    Now that is bad.

    Btw, awesome shots.

    Posted by RobKal
  3. @Akin and Mark Cheers, chaps! Glad SOMEONE used a few of the pics! :)

    @RobKal That’s terrible. I know a few football clubs tried that over here a while ago and had a bit of a revolt to deal with. I just don’t get the greed of the bands. They own the music, the merchandise, the logo, everything. Why are they so scared of allowing people to take their pictures!?

    Posted by tabascokid
  4. Oh yeah the photographers will probably boycott the games and there will be no photos at all.

    What surprises me about your situation is the “difference” between the agency and the newspaper. Photos from the agency would surely reach more publications than the newspaper ones which should promote the band even further. Unless Metallica needs no publicity at all.
    Or maybe the AFP is going to start selling band merchandise, you never know 😀

    Posted by RobKal
  5. Apparently when one photographer approached the management, he was told that they had “enough pictures of Metallica, thanks.” So why allow newspapers and websites in? The only coverage I’ve seen in any of the mainstream media of the weekend has been my pictures on the BBC site above. I wish I understood the thinking, for my own sanity!

    Posted by tabascokid
  6. Great pictures. How’s the hearing???

    Posted by Will
  7. Eh? Speak up! 😉

    The volume levels were a lot lower than I had expected actually. At Glasto, the subs are right in front of the photographers so you can feel your organs being jostled about with every beat but it was all mounted onstage at Sonisphere. I didn’t even need ear plugs oddly enough.

    Just realised I forgot to reply to your mail too. I should well be around although it is my day off. I’ll give you a shout over the weekend.

    Posted by tabascokid
  8. I’d imagine its probably because of bad experiences with “dodgy” agencies who have made use of the pictures in less than proper ways. If the PRs can’t distinguish between small dodgy poxy agencies and big international news services, then surely they’re in the wrong job?!

    Great shots; love the drummer :-) An award winner in the making me thinks!

    Posted by Edmond Terakopian
  9. @Edmond Yeah, that could well be it but from previous experience, when pressed on the issue, copyright infringements, archiving and all these excuses get thrown up and easily dismissed until it just gets to the point where you’re told “Sorry, it’s just no.” I’d really love anyone who’s in the position of making this decision to explain it to me. There are plenty of photographers who’d lov to know the reasons, I’m sure!

    As for the drummer, why thank you very much Sir. :)

    Posted by tabascokid
  10. Great shots. I just added you to my RSS shortly after Glasto and have been enjoying your blog.

    One note: Fucked Up are from Canada, not the U.S.! :)

    Posted by Carrie
  11. Oops! I thought I’d watched out for that but I guess it slipped through. Cheers for the heads up (and the support!) :)

    Posted by tabascokid
  12. ‘lo again, sir!

    Those pesky watermarks can get right in the way of a good photo, can’t they?

    You should reconsider your use of watermarks; I suspect you may not have given the time of a clone-stamper sufficient value.

    Think of the clone-stampers. That’s all I’m asking.

    Posted by simisker
  13. Wotcha! Great to hear from you!

    Cheers for pointing it out but it could well have just come from the AFP site. :( This is the reason why I’ve always been unsure of going for higher res images on the next incarnation of the site. Still, who dares wins!

    Posted by tabascokid

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