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February 26, 2007 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Wellington’s own Online New-Weekly:

If you’ve been going to many electro and indie gigs around Wellington, you’ll probably have noticed a shift in the action.

It’s no longer all about the music- it’s about the people that attend. Wellington-based website has been documenting partiers from various gigs with a prolific “partyphoto” section. As well as advertising gigs, neonsleep’s photographs capture the zeitgeist of the party. And if the photographer is there, the people seem to come.

Welfe, the founder and photographer of neonsleep started the site after a 2005 meeting with Mark, the founder of, who was taking photos at a “rad underground party in a New York loft.”

Welfe realized that no one in Welly was capturing “all the rad people going to these shows…dressing up and going crazy”, so he set up a partyphoto section on his site. He tries to capture the essence or peak of the party (and its “ugly dregs at the end”).

Partyphoto’s aim is about making the experience of a live gig more ‘interactive’ and less focused on the band alone. DJs, band members, prop makers and designers are all involved with “creating new things to do when the sun goes down, (exploding piñatas and giant party explosives occur regularly)” and then taking photos of it.

Critics of the partyphoto section of point out that it’s photos of the same scenesters posing in crazy outfits every week, and that it’s turning these non-rock stars, non-actors and non-models into celebrities. Maybe it is, but who really cares? Most of the people in the photos are there for the party or music and Welfe only goes to see bands he likes. Some people jump in front of the camera while others run away, but with two million hits per month (that’s 10,000 visits) it’s pretty popular.

But what’s the significance of all this? In media speak, it’s the consumers interacting with the producers of the music via the media – neonsleep – an online new-weekly for Wellington, which re-situates the viewer inside the media, rather than outside it. By advertising bands through photos of their audience, Welfe, while embracing his “inner paparazzi”, is increasing the interactivity between the audience and the band. elevates the band’s status by helping transform their gigs into exciting media-fuelled experiences. Neonsleep believes “when international acts come over they must freak out… cos we tend to outshine the band.” If we were to put even more media studies on you, we could say that is a po-mo media spectacle, with neonsleep as both the creator and the flaneur on the city streets observing it, an “analytical connoisseur of the urban fabric”. But unlike the theoretical flaneur of Walter Benjamin’s Paris, Welfe gets into it. Hardcore.

Whether or not you believe it’s a good idea to make the audience the stars of the show, at gigs neonsleep’s popularity is very interesting in terms of its new-media implications. Having your photo on “partyphoto” can heighten your level of coolness if that’s something you’re concerned with, although most people we talked to said they used the site to look at their friends and see what went down at the party last night. It’s Wellington – everyone knows everyone anyway – and if you’re a self-respecting Wellingtonian you’ll probably spot acquaintances wasted on the d-floor.

Maybe it is self-indulgent but it’s a sign of the times, and with the way things are heading, more and more people are going to get their 15 gigs of fame.


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