The third performer for the day at the New Wave Music Festival at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Drunk Moon Lake, I missed the first two sets because due to personal reasons — namely a fragile human shell that requires nourishment (the shindig started at noon) — was one-man show Sonic Deadhorse. This Asian Dave Grohl look-alike was one seriously busy dude. Aside from a couple of guitars, he had a variety of other accessories he used during his show, namely a laptop, effects boxes, a violin bow and a ring pointer. I’m not kidding, there was a lot of gear on stage and he had to have a big ol’ table up there just to effectively manage it all.
His musical style was kinda all over the place, which is both good and bad. The good is that he really did demonstrate a wide variety of skills and styles. The bad, of course, was that this kind of leaves an unfocused feeling. While he did really have some nice jams, some stuff just felt like it was going on and on.
There was one point, though, where I actually yanked my earplugs out in surprise to make sure I was hearing things right. For a couple of songs, there was a very nice Radiohead Kid A groove to everything. It wasn’t as refined, and as Revolver owner Jez mentioned, it “lacks melody.” Couldn’t have put it better myself. Be that as it may, for one guy to achieve nearly that level of sonic goodness live is pretty impressive.
Going back to the gear for a minute, the ring pointer was pretty friggin’ neat. I’m guessing it was a 3D control type of thing, where he was using motions with the ring to modulate sound. Overall it was impressive, and he seems to have enough practice in it that he achieved some really nice effects.
Overall, Sonic Deadhorse was a nice change of pace and definitely a decent opener for the music festival. If you’re sick of metal bands in Taipei and all the pop going around, Sonic Deadhorse might be an interesting option to mix things up a bit. I’d definitely be interested in hearing some more, especially if he refines it up a bit.
I rarely get to go out and shoot concerts in broad daylight, so I try to enjoy it as much as I can when I do have the opportunity. The weather was decent, meaning not ridiculously hot with nice billowy clouds providing a lot of diffused lighting across the entire area. Essentially, it was an ISO100, shoot as fast or wide as you want depending on what effect you want to create; which in my case usually means wide or nearly-wide open to achieve a decently shallow depth of field.
At this point I still hadn’t gotten around to nuking all the sharpening, active D-lighting and other “enhancements” the camera does to image files, so image quality is on par with what I’ve shot in the past. I did, however, use my new sharpening process and saw much better results (and learned a ton). Masking is your friend, seriously.
My one gripe about shooting at NTU’s Drunken Moon Lake is that the stage is pretty high up, and recessed a bit. Its net height is about 2 meters up, but there’s a small ledge with a flower bed (that got trampled) immediately before it, giving myself and others a nice platform from where to shoot and then duck (which must have looked hilarious to the audience sitting on a grassy knoll about 50m back). Despite this vertical assist, the sheer height of the stage means that almost all shooting takes place at an unflattering angle from below.
One specific issue when shooting Sonic Deadhorse that wasn’t a problem later was the damned table he kept all his gear on. This basically killed any full body shots from straight on to about 90 degrees in each direction. I tried solving this by shooting from the side of the stage, but only stage-left was fully open at that angle, so that limited options as well.
Nikon D7000 (Amazon)
Nikon AF 24mm f/2.8D (Amazon)
Nikon AF 50mm f/1.4D (Amazon)
Nikon AF 80-200mm f/2.8D (Amazon)