Kuopio RockCock 2009 – preparations

So, I’m finally getting ready to head for the first festival / gig that I have accreditation for. Although in a sense it’s no different from the gigs that I’ve already shot, I’m still feeling more nervous than before. And shooting from the pit will be a new experience. As well as shooting in a gig in daylight ;)

Although the festival began today we’re only going for a day. Nothing good enough today to warrant dragging ourselves to Kuopio on a weekday. For once though, I’m not going to pack my photo gear at the last minute, so I decided to catalog my preparations for future reference. And comments on what I could maybe do better ;)

  • Load camera batteries (30D + grip = two batteries). Load up a set of spares.
  • Format all memory cards.
  • Clean sensor (yay, it took only one pass).
  • Clean all optics (ugh – four curious and often wet retrievers).

I guess that about covers everything that needs to be done beforehand. I’ll be packing all the gear in a LowePro Rover AW II which should be comfy enough on my back with the gear and water bottles etc. The following is the list of stuff I’ll be packing:

  • 30D + battery grip
  • Canon 70-200 f/4 L (non-IS)
  • Tamron 28-75 f/2.8
  • Tokina 11-16 f/2.8
  • Canon 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 USM II (just in case, I don’t really expect to use it)
  • 10 GB memory cards
  • Rocket blower
  • Cleaning fluid and wipe

I think that should about cover it. The 70-200 probably won’t see much use in the pit, but I’ll use it when I’m in the audience. The 18-55 is coming along just in case. I can’t honestly remember when I’ve used it last, but it doesn’t weigh much either.

I’ve also printed out a timetable and map of which stages the bands are at that I want to see (and shoot). There are a couple of other bands that I’ll probably shoot, but not actively listen to (hey, I’m there to enjoy the music ;).

How I chose my future electric

Early in January over on Shutterclicks I wrote that I’d promised myself an electric guitar if I kept up practicing with my acoustic. Well, I’ve been hitting the strings fairly actively lately.

So I’ve spent the spring window shopping for guitars. And amps. And drooling – a lot.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about what I want from an electric. Of course budgetary issues are a great concern, but I had enough leeway that almost any type of guitar is feasible – at least the cheaper versions.

Way back when, when I first started playing, I got an Ibanez electric (a very cheap EX-170). Back then my reasons were quite simple: I idolized Steve Vai and I’d had a chance to play the guitar quite a bit during lessons. What can I say, I liked the neck.

Window shopping online meant I looked at various models, but the problem is you never know what the guitar will feel like. A visit to both of our local music stores had me mainly playing around with various ESP and Ibanez models. My end conclusion was that I still like Ibanez-style neck the most.

So, looking at prices and models for one that I’d like led me to a RG350DX WH. I was in love. It looked close enough to my dream guitar that I was in love. The only problem was the termolo. From everything I’ve read, a Floyd Rose style trem isn’t exactly easy for a beginner.

This is where the differences in our two stores started to show themselves. In the first one I visited, the only comment I got on the trem was that all non-original Floyd Rose’s are crap. In the second store I was able to discuss my doubts and get some good perspective. So I settled down – I’d made my choice.

Hah. While waiting for my vacation pay to arrive (=the budget for the guitar) I was then looking for an amp (more on selecting an amp later). And then I saw it. A real beauty. A weathered black with the classic Ibanez headstock: the S320 WK. But…

The guitar has a tremolo system that I’d never heard of or seen in action. And the body is unbeliavable thin. So, again I marched into the second shop and asked them if they had any experiences in the S-series (the first store is our main Ibanez shop – not this one). This is when I really decided where I’m buying the guitar from. Since they had no knowledge of the S-series and the 320 isn’t that expensive a model they offered to get one from the importer for me to try. Now that is the kind of customer service that allows brick and mortar shops to really compete with online shops.

Two weeks ago I got the call that they’d gotten the guitar. I went in and tried it out. And liked it. I’m still not exactly sure if a floating trem is a good solution, but I want a trem and couldn’t find a Ibanez with a traditional trem that I’d like otherwise (yes, looks matter).

But now I’ve got two workdays left before I can pick up the guitar and amp.

Covering Queen

For a long time I’ve felt that there are some bands that should be protected from most attempts of creating covers of their songs. And naturally, because of the title Queen is one of them.

Almost every time I hear a cover version of a Queen song I cringe and either want to run away screaming or destroy whatever radio is playing the cover. And don’t even get me started on the pan-pipe muzak versions…

I remember seeing a message on the Ytsejam mailing list way back in 1995 that the upcoming A Change of Seasons EP from Dream Theater would have a live medley with a Bohemian Rhapsody cover. I trembled ;) Here was one of my favorites about to cover an all time classic. Something no one should cover.

After picking up the CD as soon as doors opened in the local music stores (and skipping all of the lectures that morning ;) I rushed home and popped in the CD and started listening. Once I got to the medley and heard DT play Bohemian Rhapsody I was floored. This was a good cover.

I should probably clarify that up to that time I hadn’t heard a Queen cover that I liked. Even Freddie’s memorial was a let-down vocally. Up to then, the only real exception was Metallica and Stone Cold Crazy (youtube).

The pre-release hype on DT’s new album coming with a bonus-CD of covers with some Queen tracks had me hopeful. Once I found out which tracks they were, I went to Spotify and listened to them (since I recognized none – I really have to finish collecting all Queen CDs).

I must admit, DT exceeded my expectations. Then I happened to hit Brian May’s soapbox (which doesn’t have a feed so I don’t remember to visit it often enough). Apparently I wasn’t the only one impressed:

Bloody Hell …. !

Dream Theatre seem to be amazing … thanks – I had not heard this …

Brian May

And later in June after seeing DT live:

… Yes, the redoubtable Dream Theatre. IT was a revelation. Their scope is way beyond covering Ancient Rock Bands, of course … and actually way beyond Rock, I’d say. They are what would have been called, about 30 years ago – truly ‘progressive, with more than a touch of fusion’. But their musicianship is way beyond even that. The whole band are virtuosos …

Brian May

P.S. And of course, while writing this I bumped into a tribute album to Alice Cooper (Spotify). While all the versions are quite good and are performed by very good artists most leave me wanting a bit more. Just goes to further show that making a good cover is difficult.