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Best of 2015: Music Photography

2015 has been insane for music photography. Last year I wrote about how great 2014 was and I honestly expected 2015 to be a little quieter for me after feeling so happy with how the previous year had gone. I’m going to try and make this an annual thing (check out 2014’s music photography), so here’s the second in hopefully many annual reflections.

The goal for 2015 was to streamline my processes for identifying and working with bands, venues and promoters. While 2014 was a full and fruitful year, I felt my work was a little too diluted and lacked focus. Photographing bands on the same stages has you relying on the same techniques after a while. I set myself the goal of producing more work with less in 2015.

First Quarter

January kicked off with the newly rebranded The HiFi becoming Max Watt’s, and there I shot Danny Brown and Jamie T. Danny Brown was my personal pick this month, and while the crowd loved him, Jamie T packed the place to the brim.

February was huge as always with a mammoth Soundwave lineup and some work with Noisey: Music By VICE. I mean, just look at the work I did for VICE. This dude was absolutely amazing, had no idea who he came to the festival to see, but he was loving being a total badass.

In addition to that guy, I photographed the first ever performance of music supergroup, Killer Be Killed. If you weren’t part of that wave of excitement, it’s members of Dillinger Escape Plan, Soulfly and Mastadon.

Swedish hard rock band, Graveyard, played at Crowbar and there’s a sweet signed poster in Crowbar Black now!

I got to know some of the Smith Street Band guys in February when they toured with PUP and Great Cynics. It was like an all star tour where they hit almost every city in Australia (or at least that’s what it felt like) so I stopped in for a second helping when I was in Melbourne shooting Soundwave.

Second Quarter

The Drunk Promoter brought Guttermouth to Crowbar for two shows back-to-back. Both were packed!

I took a quick break from punk to cover Mobb Deep at Max Watt’s. There was so much rap there this year!

One of my favourite bands, A Wilhelm Scream came through Crowbar and their Soundcheck was just as intense as their performance.

I shot Against Me!’s soundcheck as they warmed up Max Watt’s, and played some new material which sounded amazing. The new album is on my hype train list for 2016 for sure.

UNFD did me a massive favour (or so I like to think of it as one) and brought Beartooth to Australia on the In Heart’s Wake tour. Levitation!

High Tension filmed their “Killed By Life” video at Crowbar and then played a show straight after. Another highlight of 2015!

King Parrot was also on the bill, and Matt Young and Karina did a duet of Lapindo, which is an awesome track off High Tension’s 2015 album, Bully. Plus, King Parrot ripped it up and is playing the New Year’s Eve show at Crowbar.

Unfortunately, June was a horrible month. Or so it started out as. Someone stole my camera after I shot Clowns at Crowbar. The community put in so much work, sharing, commenting, liking, spreading the word, offering me their cameras to shoot with until I got back on my feet with a new one… Honestly, it was one of the best feelings ever. So when I got it back, I was hyped up! Just check out the look on my face. I honestly cannot thank everyone enough for helping me get it back. It was someone who saw the photo that recognised the people who took it and ultimately was what helped me get it back. I wasn’t even angry, I was just happy it was back and in one piece. THANK YOU to everyone at Crowbar, all of the patrons and people in the community who helped spread the word. Even Eric Melvin from NOFX offered words of support. I appreciate everyone’s kind words and all the amazing things they did for me, from offering to put on a benefit show, to simply sharing kind words of support with me. Amazingly, the photos I took of Clowns that night were still on the camera!

Third Quarter

The third quarter of the year included one of my highlights – Crowbar’s third birthday. There was 100 McDonalds cheeseburgers during soundcheck. The Bennies headlined the celebrations gig, with everyone jumping on the mic.

It was also the night that Crowbar Couch was born. Denis had the idea of taking photos somewhere in Crowbar as each band rolls through, and I thought it was a great idea so suggested the green room. There’s some classic leather couches out there, and we found a sign to throw up on the wall behind it. DIY forever! Here is the first photo from Crowbar Couch:

Deathproof PR also had a kickass booth on night one of Big Sound, and everyone was recovering for the rest of the conference. They know how to throw a pre-party. Cosmic Psychos, High Tension, Born Lion and Super Best Friends all played awesome sets.

Oh and I also took the photo of High Tension that inspired the art direction for their film clip for ‘Killed By Life’, which is here:

The Dillinger Escape Plan unofficially brought Max Watt’s into its own after being changed from The HiFi. It felt like a reopening of sorts, with the band meeting the crowd’s expectations of having no expectations.

Smith Street Band did another tour, the “I Love Life” tour, with Andrew Jackson Jihad and Iron Chic. All were awesome, but Smith Street Band’s return was great for me because I was happier with these photos than I was with the “Get High, See Everyone” tour.

The Met started doing more shows in Brisbane, and surprisingly, some quite good ones. PVRIS and Circa Survive did an awesome show there, despite the poor lighting conditions.

Six Foot Hick reminded everyone of their place in the Brisbane music scene by playing their 20th anniversary show at Crowbar. Gentle Ben was not so gentle on himself, and punched himself in the head and threw himself around so much that he drew blood. Made for an awesome Crowbar Couch shot, though!

The Smith Street Band played (another) show (but who is complaining?!) at Crowbar just before their appearance at Splendour in the Grass. They played with The Grates and only sold door sale tickets. The lineup went around the block and sold out within 10 minutes. Deafcult played too and became a known band at a super fast rate after Zan Rowe endorsed them on Triple J.

Fourth Quarter

I was lucky enough to be invited by I Oh You and UNFD to work with Violent Soho for their upcoming record slated for 2016. I spent some time in the studio with the guys, and also did the behind the scenes photography of their clip, Like Soda. The new record is sounding fantastic.

The “Like Soda” film clip was filmed at Bardon Bowls Club in Brisbane, and was as funny to make as it is to watch the final product.

The bowls club was HOT. But their show at The Zoo on the ‘Like Soda’ tour was even hotter. Henery almost fainted outside, and I’ve been trying to convince him to shave his head ever since.

Clowns played Crowbar for Halloween and much fun was had. They also produced one of my favourite Crowbar Couch photos.

Pulled Apart By Horses played an awesome show at Crowbar, too. On the tour they were seeing what weird items they could get on their rider, so on the Brisbane show they requested a wine tasting ‘experience’. They got it. Then they played and sweated it out. Then they crashed.

Abbath had one of the weirdest and funniest sets at Max Watt’s, but they also had an awesome lighting setup that was on par with Dillinger Escape Plan’s lighting setup.

Clowns took me on a short tour with them in December while they supported Rise Against. It was an amazing experience supporting such deserving dudes that work their asses off. The tour involved Stevie jumping off Rise Against’s speaker stack and toppling it over, a pinball tournament at The Old Bar for a 70 cent jackpot, and lots of beer.

Last but not least, one of my favourite experiences of 2015 was photographing The Flatliners and One Week Records’ Australian tours. Anyone that knows me knows I can listen to Flatliners for months on end. Being able to photograph them and have them be absolute lords to me meant the world.

Everything that I did in 2015 was because of good people that I feel like I owe so much to. Thank you in particular to Trad and Tyla from Crowbar, the rest of the Crowbar team, Hysteria Magazine, Chris from Max Watt’s, Megsy from TBC, the Violent Soho and Clowns’ guys, The Drunk Promoter, Tim at VICE, LusidArt, Chris Cresswell, the Deathproof PR team, and every single person that said something nice, did something or offered to do something nice when my camera was stolen. You are all the best.

Until next year!


Matt Walter
Matt Walter
Photographer for Violent Soho, Crowbar, Dune Rats, Skegss, WAAX, Ceres, Camp Cope, Hard Aches, Clowns, and more. Host of Filter Photography Podcast.