You'd be forgiven for not instantly recognising the name (other than perhaps the early 90s Sega video game console, which is in no way relevant) as Mastersystem only announced themselves at the end of February. The collaborative project is made up of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison and his brother Grant, together with Editors/Minor Victories/yourcodenameis:milo guitarist Justin Lockey and his brother, James (also from Minor Victories). The temptation is there to call them a 'supergroup', but when questioned Scott refers to them as an "Okay group, an alright group". I'd beg to differ.
Personally I'm a huge Frightened Rabbit/Editors fan, and I'd rate Mastersystem's debut album Dance Music as my favourite album of 2018 so far - It really is brilliant! More raucous than anything F'Rabbit or Editors have put out before, at times bordering grunge, whilst maintaining many of the subtleties that make their step-bands (can't think of a more appropriate term) so great. I had to see it live.
I'd not shot a show at The Brud for what felt like an absolute age - three years, to be exact - and this felt like as good an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the iconic Social Club. A lot had changed in my absence - most noticeably, a chunk of the carpark had now been replaced with the new(ish) Community Room, which is where I was due to spend my evening. The undercard for the evening was pretty special, too. The delightful Mi Mye from Wakefield, and my old pals from Bradford, Glass Mountain. Two acts that had been on my radar for years, but for one reason or another I'd not yet had the pleasure of photographing. Neither disappointed! Glass Mountain in particular presenting an interesting challenge to shoot, as the bulk of light for the show came from a projector.
The community room gradually filled as it neared showtime for Mastersystem, and I took camp at the front of the crowd. It'd been a loooong time since I'd shot a show from the crowd, and I'm always overly aware of how much of a disturbance a photographer can be to a crowd trying to enjoy a gig they've paid for, so tried to keep myself as inconspicuous as possible. Originally I tried shooting using a Sigma 50mm f1.4 prime, with the hope that I could rely on the house lights and a wide aperture to get some decent exposures. However, after a song or so, it became apparent that my 50mm Sigma suffered from the same autofocus issues my 35mm encountered when I shot Marmozets back in February. I had to revert back to my standard Canon 24-70mm f2.8Lii with a flashgun making up for the lack of light. You become a much more noticeable photographer as soon as you start lighting the room up with a flashgun, so I had to really pick my shots carefully. Thankfully the band provided plenty of opportunities - Grant in particular was particular expressive in his drumming, to the point where he looked like an enraged beast! Scott also appeared a lot more animated, often breaking away from the mic inbetween verses to interact with the rest of the band. Possibly the best value to shoot was guitarist Nick Willes who was standing in for Justin (who's out on tour with Editors), who presented me with a couple of quality moments to capture quickly without being too much of an annoyance to the massing crowd.
I hung around for the whole show, and it was amazing. In particular album/set closer 'Bird Is Bored Of Flying', which sounded absolutely huge live. Safe to say Mastersystem have whet my appetite for shooting shows again. There's a lot to be said for shooting bands you're really into - the energy and enthusiasm I had for shooting this show was something I'd not experience for quite a while.
Check out the interview with Scott - accompanied with my pics - over on Clash, as well as my gallery of shots below
If Mastersystem weren't previously on your radar, but you're into well-written anthemic alternative rock, then Dance Music is certainly worth a spin. There's an awesome live rendition of most of the album from the BBC Quay Session's over on the iPlayer till the end of the month. You can check out 'Must Try Harder' below: