Saturday, March 20, 2010

Postdata at the Black Sheep Inn

It might seem that my review of this excellent concert took a long time to get written, and that I have not blogged much at all this week. Well, that’s all true, and the reason for it stems from the two boys catching a Norovirus, a rather nasty form of stomach flu that can knock you on your arse totally for days.

Things have calmed down now and I have a bit of time, so here are my thoughts.

This concert was hosted by Amanda Putz, recorded by CBC Radio 2, and will be published in audio form in about a month. But you will see and hear the whole Postdata set and about half the Fader set on my YouTube channel well before that. The quality of the HD video and stereo audio from the Panasonic ZS3 that I used for most of it is stellar, with only the final two songs of the night recorded in SD and mono by the F70EXR. Still acceptable, but a huge step down unfortunately.

Here’s the playlist, which will increase in size until the entire concert is visible.

Update: It is now complete in 7 parts. Remember to play it moderately loud, as the audio sounds even better that way.

I recorded non-stop, so there are only a few short glitches near the end as I was forced to switch cameras, but the rest of them run end to end with every spoken word and every song in its entirety, at least for Postdata.

I’ve been having significant issues with Nero 9 lately, and it is driving me nuts. I mastered Rita McNeil on the MAC and those turned out beautifully, but the MAC is showing terrible video quality from the Panny, while Nero on the PC shows the video to perfection, but screws up the length as marked. It seems to add the offset to the length and confuses YouTube (although this could easily be YouTube’s issue as well … I don’t trust a lot of the script-kiddies that pass for WEB developers these days.)

Windows Live Essentials Movie Maker doesn’t seem to be able to import the raw AVCHD, but even having it import and rewrite the MP4 output file to WMV format manages to ruin the video, although it cuts the size almost in half. Anyway, I will eventually get the rest of the video mastered. As I do, I will expand the list above.

Update: I finally chose to purchase the very inexpensive Pinnacle Studio HD 14 and am extremely satisfied with how it handled these videos. Editing is a breeze and the output looks just as good while taking half the bandwidth. I.e. best of both worlds … smallest file from all of these and yet imports and edits AVCHD easily. Excellent application – recommended.

So the boys and I arrived rather early … about 5:30pm. I drove Jon downtown for an exam and waited with Nick while Jon finished up and then joined us at a gas station on King Edward street, which was the perfect exit to the city to go north to Wakefield during rush hour.

We drove the 30 minutes or so up to the Black Sheep and arrived at about 5:30pm, and then waited 3 hours for the concert to start. This was fortuitous since we were able to have dinner -– the best poutine I have ever eaten (try the pulled pork variant) – and then watch the entire sound check. It was like a mini concert since they all got up on stage at one point or other and played a few songs to get the sound just right.

The Black Sheep has a small stage, but an excellent sound system. Really first rate for a small venue. Everything is crystal clear, and this is picked up really well by the Panny.

The Black Sheep has terrible lighting … they think of it as ambience, but I think of is as a huge pain in the ass for documenting the concert. Even the D700, a spectacular low light camera, was challenged somewhat to capture clean images.

While there was still some light, I took out the D700 to play a bit and captured this image of the venue’s mascot, a cute Pug. They also had a couple of small-ish cats who were quite cute, but this dog stole the show. Here he (or she) is at the back of the venue up on the sound console.


Nick enjoys photography quite a bit now that he works at Henrys and is exposed to it every day, so he grabbed the D700 and shot a bunch of images with it while we waited. Here is his still life of a Bud with lens cap and the stage in the background …


As it got darker, he caught this quick image of the candle girl walking around and lighting up all the tables. Quick thinking, I gotta say.


He then experimented a bit with foreground / background focus and lighting. These two still life images differ only in the use of the built in flash on the second shot with a heavy layer of tissue diffusing the image.




After we ate, there happened to be a french fry lying around and of course the firebug in Jonathan got the best of him. I asked him to  pose when I noticed how the fry looked once lit …


Nick had had a few beers and got right into the spirit here :-)


And we waited some more …


I positioned one of our two candles to light his head from below, which balanced the light from above. Interesting …


And then Julie Fader and her band …


… arrived and gave us a very nice set. I really enjoyed her stuff and was a bit surprised that the boys  did too. I bought her lone CD from iTunes when I got back. Note … randy Randy Lee is the violinist.


Note that the lighting was incredibly low for her set. I had to boost the shadows on that image something wicked, so it’s a bit noisy, especially in the blue channel.

Between sets, Nick farted around with the D700 a bit more and captured this really nice image.


And then Postdata came out …

Postdata is made up of Paul Murphy and his brother Michael and is an acoustic version of Wintersleep … sort of. Paul is the main writer for both bands and the similarities are there in both the music and the sound. Michael was unavailable for touring, so Tim D’Eon, also of Wintersleep, stepped in for the live shows. (Michael appeared in Halifax, near where he studies law, and Nick thinks that would have been an awesome concert to see … I agree.)

Tim sat behind several synthesizers all evening, as shown here.


When not sitting where he is in that image, he was crouching on the floor behind the equipment playing a guitar.

Paul of course stood and played acoustic guitar all evening, with the notable exception of electric where noted in the set list that follows Paul’s image.

Note: Nick shot all the images I have of Postdata, since I was busy recording their complete set.



This was a fairly long set, perhaps because the CBC recorded? I was very pleased with what I was hearing … these guys were right on and the music was full and rich, a real feet with two guys. Tim played a little blow keyboard that mimicked a harmonica pretty well, and once in a while he added synthesized chorus, which I personally love listening to …

Near the end, I ran out of battery! I had to record the finale and encore with the Fuji F70EXR, which has inferior video and audio. But at least I had the cam with me and caught the rest of the set. A few minor glitches there, but all in all a pretty decent overall result.

Paul’s encore, Astronaut, brought the house down … what a special treat for their fans!

One more thing … I asked permission to shoot images and record video ahead of time and Paul was most gracious in granting me permission. These guys are true easterners … as nice as it gets.

Paul seemed to remember Nick, who spent time back stage and in the pubs with Tim and other band members several times while he lived in the UK last year. Tim and Nick also reconnected while standing outside for a smoke once or twice …

This band (and the much louder Wintersleep – I’ve heard them called a sonic assault) is a must see when touring. Really. You will never regret seeing them live, and their CDs grow on you very quickly … they have been playing on my car CD player non-stop since Tuesday …

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