Another Night with Dolby and Some Strange Camera Rules

A couple of nights ago I went to a Thomas Dolby concert at Park West here in Chicago.  I had been to see a smaller event with him last year that I also blogged about but that was more focused on some dumb stuff more related to me than to him.  Since the disappointment I had then was entirely down to my own stupidity, when he set a date for a full concert back here, I bought my ticket swiftly.

This is not going to be a concert review.  I know I wander about on stuff on this blog but it is supposed to be more focused on the photography side of things and I promise that the heart of what I am talking about is actually photography related.  However, I shall start off by pointing out that it was a great evening.  The support act were a fun pair although possibly not your usual support act in that they were a duo playing predominantly bluegrass music.  They were good and funny although possibly not what a bunch of electronic music fans might be heading out to see.  Then again, the demographic of a Thomas Dolby concert is not what it once was – although you could argue it is exactly what it once was, just they are all a lot older now!

The main event was a lot of fun for an old fan who has continued to follow his newer music and the advantage of seeing an act that is no longer quite as big as once they were is that they play smaller venues and you feel a lot closer to the performer – because you are!

So, for those patient photography types out there who have stuck with it so long, where is the photography reference?  Here it comes.  I had popped up to the venue in the afternoon.  Thomas has a steam-punk trailer called the Time Machine that he has been towing around behind the tour bus.  I was interested in grabbing a few shots of it so went up ahead of time assuming it would be there.  It was and I got a few images although the afternoon light was a bit harsh and the polished metal finish didn’t help in those conditions.

I figured that a camera would be a problem in the evening so the afternoon recce was the alternative I went with.  When I came back up for the show itself, there were some big signs on the doors saying that video and audio recording were not allowed but feel free to take as many stills as you like.  CRAP!  I hadn’t brought a camera.  I did have my phone but nothing else.  I was feeling pretty annoyed about this but I was there for the music and the photos would have been a side benefit so not the end of the world.

I ended up sitting just behind a guy that had a camera with him.  It was not long before one of the venue staff payed him a visit.  They were checking his camera and that of everyone else around.  Apparently, they had a rule (not on the signs) about professional cameras.  What is a professional camera you ask?  Apparently, an SLR of any sort counted.  If the lens could come off, it was verboten.  No explanation of why but that was it.

When I was a more regular concert goer, cameras were always a problem so I had assumed nothing was allowed.  When I saw something was allowed, I was then confused by their arbitrary rule.  Some of the cameras people had were pretty capable.  A Canon G12 would have been fine for example?  How does that work?  Who knows.  Anyway, since I had not brought my stuff, I didn’t have a problem.

One amusing footnote to all of this, the support guys made a big deal of pointing out that they didn’t care if you videoed the whole of their performance.  They just wanted to make sure that you got their names right!  Great stuff.  The shots I did take I grabbed occasionally with my phone.  I think they came out quite well actually.  However, I was there for the music and didn’t allow the shots to distract me more than a little.  Fun night!

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