THE MINDS OF 99, Northside 2019: photographing Denmark’s biggest band

photo by Marie Oleinik

I first discovered The Minds of 99 in 2015, through a song called “Det Er Knud Som Er Død”. At the time I was not too fond of Niels Brandt’s characteristic vocals or the Danish language, so my love for the band did not go beyond that one song.

As the years went by, Minds were getting bigger and bigger, and yet, despite really wanting to like their music, I just could not connect with it.

It wasn’t until early 2019, when I had P6 Beat playing in the background on my way to work when a song came on, and I actually stopped mid-walk just so I could focus. K Før Ærlighed” for me was one of those songs, where after 10 seconds you already know it will become a permanent resident in your collection. I listened to nothing else for the next few weeks, eventually giving in to their latest album Solkongen.

There must have been some missing link in 2015 when I couldn’t like the band, but 4 years later it finally clicked, and the connection was established. Maybe it is because I actually understand Danish now, or maybe it simply was the right time.

This spring The Minds of 99 were nominated for Gaffa Awards as Best live band of the year, Best Danish band of the year, Best Danish rock album of the year”, Hit of the year, Best Danish release of the year and won all those titles. Perhaps, I was not the only one, who obtained a newfound love for the band through Solkongen.

Northside Festival 2019 had a wonderful lineup – one of the best this season, but as all my friends went on about seeing Tame Impala or Bon Iver, I could only look forward to seeing Minds, who were appropriately introduced by the hosts as “Denmarks most important band”.

The real struggle of being a concert photographer occurs when you are about to shoot a favourite. You want to experience the concert, but you also want to deliver your best work. For that, you have to be focused on cooperating with the camera. You watch the show through the tiny viewfinder, check the settings every few shots to make sure everything is properly exposed, and you also need to be mindful of other photographers in the pit and not get in their way.

Despite having a decent experience photographing events, I did not feel prepared for this. The moment we got escorted into the pit, I could feel that this time would be different. Something really big was about to happen. The air felt like it was charged with electricity from all the excitement steaming off thousands of people gathered in front of the stage as far as one could see. It was the same euphoria you feel at a football stadium before seeing an important game. It was everything.

Of course, I still have a lot to learn in music photography. I am not sure I even deserve to share a pit with amazing photographers like Flemming Bo Jensen or Morten Rygaard, but I like to think that one’s skills are not static, and, hopefully, one day I will be good at this. I do not have an expensive state-of-the-art camera, or a lens the size of my leg. But I also do not think that it is the most important part.

After all, the value of music photography lies in capturing the moment, the experience – not simply an artist on stage. And so I hope that a few of these shots at least to some extent do the justice to the mesmerizing summer evening we all got to share with the band and each other.

After I was done with taking photos, I went to see the rest of the concert from the crowd, and there it became clear to me why The Minds of 99 were crowned as Denmark’s best live band. Niels Brandt does not smile on stage, but at times he is obviously holding back. You simply have to be there to truly grasp the power of their shows. The Minds of 99 may not have headlined Northside 2019 on paper, but it felt like they did. At least, some newfound Danish friends and I were way too hyped to pay attention to Bon Iver afterwards, the actual headliner.

Photos by Marie Oleinik