There's this band in Melbourne that seems to be playing everywhere at the moment. The Tote (just before it announced its closure), The Birmingham, The Espy, Cherry, Rats, The Worker's Club, Pony - plus MySpace tells me there are upcoming support gigs for Dan Kelly and The Gin Club on the calendar. As far as I can tell, there are two reasons this band is gigging so much: 1 - This is an incredible band. Truly, amazing. 2 - Browntown is just such a good guy.
Eagle and the Worm is the combination of a motley bunch of musicians who, to my untrained ears, are damn good at what they do and, to my untrained eyes, have a brilliant time doing it. What they are doing, exactly, is largely dictated by the quiet genius of Browntown, or Jarrad Brown - the bespectacled man behind the band that seems to have become local music's new darling. There he is, above, on stage at The Tote in his green All Stars the night Eagle and the Worm debuted as a live band.
I met Jarrad about a year ago and he's one of the nicest and most unaffected musicians I have met. I reckon most other people who have met him would probably think the same thing, and maybe that explains why venues are so enthusiastic about hosting his band. I mean, who could say no to this face:
Moreover, the parts of Jarrad's personality that I have witnessed shine through brilliantly in his music - overwhelmingly positive, chilled out, a little bit psychadelic - in his own words, good times. Maybe that's why venues are so enthusiastic about hosting his band.
So when Jarrad asked me to take photos of his new band at The Tote, I instantly obliged even though I hadn't done such specific projects before and my cameras are notoriously unreliable. The gig was packed but for whatever reason people stayed away from the front of the stage. Which meant I had to shoot in full view of the entire audience. Which, on a school night with very little alcohol, meant I was pretty damn nervous. But I swallowed the nerves and persisted, shooting a couple of rolls on colour and black and white.
When the photos came back I was bitterly disappointed. Not because they were awful, but because they weren't what I wanted. They were (are) too dark, too vague, too ordinary. It took a long time to choose a photo to include here, but in the end I went with the one that showed Jarrad most clearly (which should give you an idea of the overall lack of clarity in the results). I could never really articulate the overarching thing that bugged me about these photos. But now I get it. After writing what I have just written, it seems so obvious. The photos just didn't do justice to, or fit, the music - or the bloke behind it all.
So here it is, my (semi-)public admission that I took some bad photos... when someone specifically asked me to take good photos. I cracked under pressure and let my discomfort get the better of me. (Jarrad being Jarrad, he maintained that he liked them and was ever grateful.) In order to wash the acrid taste of disappointment from my mouth, the best thing to do is to stand up, move on and write the whole thing off as a learning experience. And above all the other lessons I could take from this - and there are many - maybe the most poignant is to just relax and do what you love. If you're anything like Browntown, the results will not disappoint.