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Radio Massacre International @ Orion Sound Studios

Monday, November 19th, 2007

I haven’t taken a camera to a concert in years, mostly because I realized that whenever I did, I paid more attention to photography than I did to the music. That wasn’t a trade-off I was willing to make. Also, bringing an expensive digital SLR into a packed, dingy club (usually in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood) isn’t my idea of a relaxing time. So I haven’t mixed my passion for photography with my passion for music since, oh, maybe 2001 or so.

For whatever reason I decided to change things up a bit last night, and I brought my trusty Nikon D70 to Orion Sound Studios for the Radio Massacre International show. An electronic music group doesn’t exactly make for the most exciting of concert photography, but on the other hand at least they’re somewhat easier to shoot because they’re relatively static. The studio was dim enough that I had to shoot wide open (f/2.8) at a high ISO (800-1250) to get any reasonably fast shutter speeds, so if they’d been moving around very much I wouldn’t have gotten anything sharp.

The results of my efforts are up at Flickr; I’m reasonably happy with them considering I haven’t tried anything like this in years (most of my photography is either nature or, more rarely, sports photography). I do wish the D70 performed better at high ISOs, but there isn’t really anything I can do about that. In any case, the predictable thing happened, and indeed, I didn’t pay as much attention to the music as I would have liked.

That said, I did enjoy the show quite a bit, especially the first set. RMI played about an hour of their “traditional” Berlin-school electronic music for the first set, although there were times where they burst into more rock-oriented material, which I found a little off-putting at first. This stuff was great for the most part, really evocative and slow-moving. I’m only familiar with three of the band’s albums — (Emissaries, Septentrional and Rain Falls in Grey — of which Emissaries, whose music is closest to the style of this first set, is my favorite. So it makes sense that I dug this set a lot.

The second set was Rain Falls in Grey performed in its entirety, with the core trio augmented by Cyndee Lee Rule on violin and Premik Russell Tubbs on saxophones. I haven’t quite made up my mind about this album yet; parts of it are great (the track “Emissaries” in particular), whereas other parts seem to wander without really going anywhere in particular. The live performance didn’t change my mind; the parts I already liked were even better live, but the meandering parts still meandered. Also, I couldn’t really tell what Rule added to the band, she didn’t seem to play all that much and when she did I sometimes thought she muddied up the sound. That might have just been my earplugs cutting out some the high end of the mix, though.

In any case, a good show, and the big news is that Radio Massacre International got announced for next year’s NEARfest. Hopefully I can make it next year, as I will welcome the chance to see these guys again and really put my full attention to the music.