👋 About

My name’s Alex, and everything you see on The Underground Stage is my fault.
If you’re looking to book me to shoot your show then you’re out of luck – I don’t take bookings, at all. I only ever go to the shows I want to, and I won’t tell you in advance if I’m going to your show. That’s because I give away all my photos for free – if I let people book me, or let bands know I’m showing up, then I might take a legit booking away from an actual photographer. If you want to ask me about who’d be a great shooter to book for your show, feel free to ask me – I know of loads of them out there (and they’re all better than me anyway btw).
If you’re asking about playlist submissions or reviews, feel free to Insta DM or email me. Before you do, it might be worth reading this, which spells out how it all works.
If you’re just looking to just get in touch then, again, Instagram DMs or email are probably your best bet. I’m occasionally sort of friendly, but also again, I don’t always respond just because of time etc.
Please also see my personal Music Industry Collaboration Commitment. It seems everywhere you look in music someone’s being an asshole. I hope to leave the place a bit tidier than I found it.

I started this particular thing back in 2014 because it was basically what I’d been doing for about a hundred years prior in different shapes and forms in London, in Scotland, and now here in sunny Sydney. I started off writing about bands in fanzines in the 90s, then for magazines and then websites through the 00s, then filming them doing live sessions. These days I mostly just shoot live shows by emerging artists, write about a few tracks I love each week, and dork out to numbers and stats about what’s happening on the playlists. That said, recently I’m thinking that the core of this thing is more of a fanzine, so maybe I’ve come a bit full circle.

The consistent theme behind it all (if there is one) is that I’m deliberately veering away from the ‘big’ bands, and more towards newer, emerging artists – my default is for smaller shows. I’m not such a twit that I think bands get worse as they get bigger, it’s just that I have so much more fun shooting at a venue the size of my hat, where I can run into the band afterwards, where I don’t need to have a photo pass, where I don’t need to care about ‘firstthreesongsonlynoflash’ and all that (although I never use a flash and I try really hard to be done quickly, and stay out of the way). It’s more personal in smaller venues, it’s sweatier, it’s closer to the action. It’s also usually a lot more raucous and unhinged.

I’m also not in this for any money either. I actually have a Day Job that I really like, so this is my little way of putting something back into a scene that I’ve taken so much from. I pay for every single small show I go to (the only exceptions being the ones where I need a photo pass), I spend money behind the bar, and I’ll try and buy records or merch whenever I really like the bands. I think I’m also buying enough late night kebabs from the places near me to put their kids through college. Anyway, I try to be a net contributor to the band economy. And seriously, who asks for a guest list for a show that costs the same as a single drink and where the artists are barely getting paid anyway? Shitehawks, that’s who.

Sydney may not exactly be world-renowned for its musical scene or its nightlife – in the way that a London, a New York, or a Berlin is – but as an immigrant to Australia I’m still consistently blown away at how much fun it is, how brilliant the bands are, and what a generally friendly and smart scene it is here. Live music as an industry lives a pretty precarious existence, so it’s more important than ever that we all – the discerning music fans – get out to the exactly the types of venues I’m usually lurking in. Not because of the usual sanctimonious “support your scene” bullshit, but simply because it’s just such bloody good fun. The more of us that go, the more fun there is in the world – and that’s a thing worth doing, right?

From a creative perspective, I also do it because I wanted a project that would capture the action in Sydney’s smaller venues. These venues are the hearts and lungs of music in any city, and I wanted to record that. Since 2014 I’ve shot over a thousand sets, and posted over ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen twenty twenty-five thirty thousand photos, all of which I’ve given away to the bands. Sometimes I’ve been in the middle of a moshing frenzy, sometimes I’ve been the only punter there – I’ve loved it all. Let’s stop apologising for not having millions of followers, and let’s start celebrating what we’re part of instead – a thriving, pounding, pulsating underground.

Anyway, I hope you like all this nonsense. You can follow me on the usual stuff, but it’d be really cool to see you at a show. If you’re at Wayward’s, or The Captain Cook, or Mary’s Underground, or The Oxford Art Factory, or The Lansdowne, or The Valve Bar The Alley, or Moshpit, or Frankie’s, or The Sly Fox, or The Hideaway Bar HiWay The Trocadero Room, or The Duke, or any of the other great rooms in Sydney (that are still in business 🤦🏻‍♂️) and you see a lanky scruffbag semi-drunkenly changing a lens or trying to edit photos on his phone, come say hi.

See you down the front.