The exhibition Rockviu set sail a few weeks ago at Palau Robert and is not scheduled to arrive at port until August 29. A long journey in which its content can be appreciated, which is none other than checking the role, especially of Barcelona, as a live rock scene.
Xavier Mercadé is one of the inseparable photographers of that local and Catalan music scene, and for years linked to the Enderrock publishing group.
Of the million photographs that he assures that his archive contains, he has selected 300 to offer a vision at the same time panoramic and detailed of what rock has been live throughout four decades in these latitudes.
Apart from the raw material itself of the exhibition, it has an interesting added value from the outset, as it has been displayed in the Cotxeres, converted into an interesting tribute to the concert halls and in the Palau garden, with a design by Manuel Cuyàs.
Another basic element in this exhibition is the condition of its author, since Mercadé (Barcelona, 1967) confesses that “I am both things at the same time, photographer and fan.” And you could also add your perseverance, knowledge, patience or that you also write about music.
What can be seen and, above all, enjoyed are graphic testimonies of four decades of the history of live music in Catalonia theoretically, although the role of Barcelona as the setting and framework of operations for the majority.
Three hundred photos that cover this cultural activity from 1984 to 2020 and that he had to select them from a material that the author has after covering 14,000 concerts. The chosen photographs were compiled for the commemorative magazine Enderrock 300 and then articulated in the form of this exhibition Rockviu, which is commissioned by the aforementioned editorial group.
There is a variety to fix eyes and attention, from venues and ambient scenes, through unknown soloists and bands to stellar names like Madonna, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Tom Waits, The Who or, more closely, Rosalía, Joan Manuel Serrat, Love of Lesbian, Goat Soup or Sidonie.
Mercadé, on the day of the presentation of the exhibition, explained interesting and curious things such as throughout his professional experience “the most boring thing to photograph at the concert level was the indie-pop of the 90s and, without any doubt, a group like Los Planetas “. And that some of those who have caught his attention the most are David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Rosalía.
For the hard-working photographer -and confessed lover of heavy metal- his great professional reference has also been the photographer Francesc Fàbregas, and on the other hand he recognizes that he has not had major problems adapting to the different technological advances in the world of photography. What’s more, in his opinion “digital has been the great change for the better, especially at the logistical level.”
In addition, for a year now a parallel exhibition has been available in virtual format (www.rockviu.cat), in which an archive image is published every day accompanied by a text from Mercadé itself. This virtual version will end on the same day that the Palau Robert exhibition closes.
In the presentation to the press of the exhibition (which featured a performance by Sidonie) Mercadé himself wrote a series of reflections / advice on his vision of the profession and its teachings. “You have to always be a fan of live music, get involved until you get emotional, but always being aware that the job is with the camera and that we are there to work professionally.”
And later in the same chapter, says that “it is clear that moments before photographing Tom Waits, The Who, Pearl Jam or Roger Waters it is inevitable to be nervous. You may have already studied all the movements that they will make in YouTube video, which passes before the anxiety of Knowing that you will meet a legend first. The key is to think that you will do the best of it and you will get into a balloon between the musician and the audience “
And for amateurs and professionals in the photographic field, he ends with a tip: “Never forget about backups. It is clear that I have had problems, computers damaged at the worst moment, external disks that do not start or stoned, DVD’s that have stopped shooting … Never erase the memory card until you have made sure you have at least two different copies, on hard disk or in the cloud “.
You see, a very pedagogical exhibition too.