That Was Super Insane Of Me...
So, I did something super insane. I signed up for a two day workshop. All day. 10-7 both days. AND I had Manchester Orchestra to shoot Saturday night for Aesthetic with a deadline of Sunday at noon. After already shooting 3 other shows that week. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?! It took three days to recuperate from that level of exhaustion...and insanity.
This was my first time at the Hollywood Palladium. First times at venues are a little stressful because, even though a lot of things are similar, every venue requires something different. I stood in line with everyone else to show proof of vaccination and then go through the metal detectors. Once I got to the front of the line, the security guard asked me to open my bag. She saw my camera and asked to see my pass. That was surprising. I was confused by her request. It took me a second to realize that she might not know the protocol. I politely informed her that I do not yet have my pass because it is at the Will Call booth that is accessible only after you go through the metal detectors. She started to argue, but then held her thoughts back and simply asked one of the other guards to call over their supervisor. I suspect that she was exhausted, and forgot the protocol for a second, even though I had watched her go through this with another guy only a few people ahead of me. Her supervisor came over and escorted me to Will Call. She stayed by my side and was ready to escort me out if my name was not on the list. It was. I thanked her and she left.
I waited outside the venue for the press escort. I explained to her that I had never shot at the venue before and she was more than happy to answer all of my questions. She was very kind and patient. After I shot the first three songs for each band, I had to check my camera bag in. I was not allowed to carry the bag in the venue. That's okay. They had a snack stand to keep my mind occupied. No hot dogs, for whatever reason, but I enjoyed a hot pretzel.
The show was incredible. If you ever have the opportunity to see them perform...do it.
My Aesthetic Magazine photo gallery here.
Mild Orange at The Roxy
I had never heard of Mild Orange before I accepted this assignment. I had never shot at The Roxy, either. I had never been to The Roxy. Weird, right? It's next door to The Whisky, which I have been to a thousand times, but never The Roxy.
The band was fantastic, but it was far too cramped for me. I was overwhelmed from all the bodies all around me, none of which were willing to move for anyone. I was being pushed from behind all the time, I was actually shocked that I got even one in focus shot considering how much people were making me move. But, I did. I could only stand at the front of the stage for one song before being forced out by the crowd behind me. I don't know why, I don't take up much space. Then, I couldn't get anyone to move so I could leave the floor by the stage. That didn't make sense, either. I was trying to give them more space. I had to frantically gesture at people that I was leaving before anyone would allow me to. Even then, it took almost a whole song because they just wouldn't move. I felt trapped and I began to hyperventilate. Only a little, though. A security guard saw me. There wasn't anything she could do to get me out of the crowd, but she allowed me to catch my breath next to her for a moment in the "do not stop here" section. She didn't say anything, she didn't make me feel helpless, or ashamed, she just simply let me stand in a clear area for a moment. I had a mask on so I couldn't even mouth "thank you." I simply nodded and she nodded back. It was a real kindness that meant so much to me. I spent the rest of the night in the back, where it was a little clear so I wouldn't feel that again. Apparently, everyone was trying to stand in the one section by the stage, and completely ignored the other two areas that were on platforms that had better views and less people.
My review can be found here.
Chicago in Thousand Oaks
I had the choice, shoot Chicago in a theater too small for a band like Chicago that's only 10 minutes from my house now, or wait a few months and shoot them at the Forum, or Staples Center or some venue like that. I chose to stay close to home to make things easier on myself. Either way, I absolutely HAD to shoot Chicago.
There was nothing complicated or challenging about this shoot. Parking was super easy on site. I had to go through metal detectors and all that, but that's not unusual as most venues have them now. Even The Whisky has their bouncers run a hand held metal detector over your body. Not a big deal. I shot from the sound box thing (I am so sleep deprived I can't remember the actual name) at the back of the venue. I was not informed ahead of time. Good thing I brought my 70-200mm lens.
This was just a simple, and thoroughly enjoyable show to shoot.
You can read my full review here.
Yup, I did it again.
Darwen's Theory took the stage at The Whisky and I was there for it. If you weren't, you missed out on an amazing show.
Ok, so a lot happened before I was able to get to this show. Let's start at the beginning.
There is no single way to get a photo pass for a concert. Yes, the one rule is that you must be shooting on behalf of a publication, but as far as making contact, everyone is different. Some publicists will get you on the list a week or two out, some will do it a day or two out. There is no way of knowing who will do what unless you have worked with them before. So, my method is I start contact two weeks out, check in a week out, and again two days out.
My contact for this show was Amy-who is awesome. I couldn't have asked for a better contact. Unfortunately, she is not the final say, and I began to slip through the cracks. Tours are an insane amount of work and everyone involved is putting in long hours. It happens. I get it. I ain't even mad at it. Normally, that's not a huge deal, I can always go through the company producing the show or show up to the venue and talk to the onsite contact. However! This show was several hours away from home requiring me to have to rent a hotel room for the night. My little anxiety monster was starting to take over as the show date was quickly approaching.
I decided I would take the chance and book the room. At best, it all works out the way I wanted. At worst, I spend a night by myself in the middle of nowhere. I win either way. I managed to get the last room in the hotel I booked. Yay for me.
The day of, I get to the hotel minutes before check in starts. Wonderful. I unpack and immediately head out to find some food. This particular place, Twenty-Nine Palms, is pretty much a one street town. Just drive down this one street and everything they have is there, on this one street. Super easy. After I eat, I email Amy and ask if everything has been resolved. Not yet. The time for me to leave for the show came quickly, and I still had not received word that my pass has been secured. What do I do? Do I wait in the warm room for the email, or do I go to the venue and take my chances? Well, this venue is in a place called Pioneertown, an actual working, functioning western movie/TV set built so that actors could have a place to live and play while they work. I HAD to see it! The sun was setting and I was loosing my chance, so...I went. It never occurred to me that there might not be any cell service at this place. I found out the hard way that there was not. None. Zero. No. Cell. Service. Anywhere. I was completely unable to receive any emails from Amy confirming my pass. The word "stressed" lost all meaning for me that night.
The sun had set and I was very quickly reminded how cold it gets in the desert. Very, very cold. Good thing I always keep gloves in my camera bag and extra sweaters in my car. I was covered. Or, so I thought. I was very grateful that we are currently living in a time where masks are an acceptable choice because that mask kept my face super warm. The line to get it was wrapped around the venue when I finally got in it. It didn't take long to get to the entrance. When I asked about my pass...nope. They did not have my name on their list. I swear, I was about to cry. I was told to talk to a lovely young woman who was clearly also stressed, but so kind. I showed her my previous emails with Amy to prove that I should have been on the list and that I'm not a random person who just showed up. She would have been justified in turning me away, however, she decided to sort this out for me. She brought out the big guns....the tour manager. I explained to him who I was, why I was there, who I was shooting for, and showed him the emails with Amy. He couldn't have been nicer. I actually miss him. We should be BFFs. So, he looks at me, reads the emails, and then I hand him my card and say "here's my card so you know I'm super legit." He laughed and told me he will be right back with my pass and that they LOVE the press and photographers. He came back, gave me my pass, and told me the golden rule: First Three/No Flash. I was in! Yes! I thanked him, and then found the young woman who made this happen and I thanked her.
Besides the cold, I loved this venue. In addition to several bars, they had several bbq pits up and running with burgers and hot dogs. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I love hot dogs. They also had....wait for it...coffee! Hot dogs and coffee! How is this not standard in every single venue in the world?????????? The stress just melted away upon smelling the hot dogs and coffee. I would happily shoot at this venue again.
Anyway, I had my pass, I made friends with the other photographer there, and someone in the audience went crazy over my camera bag-it's black with pretty pink flowers all over it. The show was amazing. I love Coheed and Cambria. You can read my full review here.
It was all worth it.
Zachary Williams at The Hotel Cafe
It is very difficult to know all the music all the time. I had never heard of Zachary Williams when I accepted this assignment. By the time his show was over, I was a fan.
There aren't too many ways I can describe him, him music, his performance. I think I covered it pretty well here.
Korn. System Of A Down. Banc of California Stadium. Yes. I shot that. Oh, my goodness, it was a rough road getting there and it did not become smooth once I arrived.
It was difficult finding the correct person to request a media pass, I kept emailing anyone who had any connection to them. It was so stressful. Ok, I have anxiety, so anything and everything is super stressful. As turns out, every other photographer there had the same problem. I felt better once I found that out because then it wasn't just my inexperience or incompetence. A few of them had asked me specifically if I had the same troubles and how I resolved it. Well, we all got there, at it was glorious, stressful, and a little violent. (No one was hurt.)
Shooting Korn was simple. Nothing really to report except someone got rowdy and decided to throw their beer...all over my back. They weren't aiming for me, I was just in the beer's way. That was annoying but not the end of the world.
The "fun" didn't really start until right before SOAD went on. We were standing in the pit area, waiting for SOAD to take the stage when an epidemic of drunk suddenly hit the crowd next to the barriers we were standing in front of. Security and medics were pulling people in distress over the barrier, but because of the lack of space, we (the photographers) had to smoosh down as far as we could to accommodate the emergencies. It was a constant game of "avoid the feet" do we didn't get kicked by the bodies people evacuated from the crowd.
Minutes before we were set to start shooting, the security guard in charge placed a glove on the ground and told us all we could not step on front of it to shoot, which meant that we had to photograph this stage from inside the narrow corridor "pit". If that wasn't hard enough, he decided that one security had to stand guard in front of the crowd to one side of the corridor, but he had to stand directly in the corridor, blocking half of the area that we were permitted to occupy. And, of course, he did not choose a smaller guard that we could easily shoot around. Nope. This guard was like 6'3 and took up a lot of space naturally, but decided that it would be best if he man-spread while standing guard. Bleh. Fine. We'll work around him. Thankfully, all of the other photographers, even the women, were really crazy tall, and had absolutely no problem with letting me stand in front of them all. They even made room for me.
So, we start shooting in this corridor, half blocked by a large security guard, and people just kept walking in front of our cameras. Just because. On top of that, the people in the crowd next to the barriers decided that they needed to try to get as physically close to the band as humanly possible. They leaned over the barriers with half their bodies over into the corridor with their arms stretched out as far as they could go. And the security guards did absolutely nothing to stop this. At one point I had to physically move a guys arm with my arm because he kept hitting my lens. Hard. Repeatedly. So, I'm dodging and weaving and bending in ways that I didn't know I could, in ways that a body should not move, when all of a sudden, without warning, three guards come rushing over to where I am standing. They don't say anything. They did not give me any opportunity to move for them. Instead, in a single motion, they rush over to me and pull a person out from the crowd over my head and the only thing I could do at that point was hit the deck as quickly as possible. It was not quick enough because I ended up getting kicked in the head as these guys were all literally on top of me.
If I knew all of this was going to happen, I would absolutely do it all again. It was fantastic.
You can read my full review here.
Robert DeLong is everything!
I first heard Robert DeLong a few years ago without knowing his name, who he was, or how much I would actually come to love his music. In 2018 he patterned on a duet with K. Flay, who I am obsessed with, on a song called "Favorite Color Is Blue." So, when the opportunity to cover one of shows came up, I jumped at the chance.
The opening act was Day Tvvo. It was originally supposed to be Grabbitz, who I was really looking forward to seeing and covering, but something happened, and he was replaced with Day Tvvo. I wasn't terribly excited about the change because I had not heard of them before. They were supposed to take the stage at 8:30, but when 8:40 rolled around and the stage was still empty, I went outside for some fresh air. I honestly wasn't even going to photograph them or talk about them in my review. They were mid-song when I came back inside, and within a few seconds of hearing them, seeing them, I very quickly moved to the front of the stage to start photographing them. I didn't even think about it. It wasn't even a choice at that point. I couldn't help it. I needed to shoot them. I needed to talk about them. People needed to know about them.
When I started writing my review, I went to their website for the standard research like verifying how to spell their names, and something odd caught my attention: there were three members listed on the website, but only two members on stage this night. Where did the other fellow go? A mystery that may never be solved.
I can't even say enough about Robert DeLong. He is, by far, the most impressive man I have ever seen on stage. He is not only incredibly talented, but he was super fun.
You can read my full review here.
My Boys Are Back!
Last night Darwen's Theory took the stage at The Viper Room for Metal Assault Record's Waken Metal Battle for their shot at participating in the Waken Metal Festival in Germany. They, along with another band, are advancing to the next round of the battle. YES!
Darwen's Theory are winners and I am rooting for my boys. I hope you do, too.
My First Show of 2022...Tool!
2022 is off to a great start for me. My first show of the year was also my first stadium/arena show ever! Tool at Honda Center in Anaheim. 18,000 seats. I was so nervous. Would the equipment that has served me so well in smaller venues be sufficient in this place? Do I really need to spend thousands on a new lens? Would I even be able to get a decent shot? This was one time I was actually worried that for once, my hobbity stature would actually be detrimental to this job. I had convinced myself that I was going to blow this. Thankfully, I don't think I did blow it.
Tool did not make this job easy. It felt like every obstacle that could be put in my path, was put in my path. It began when I was first approved for my credentials. I was informed that I would be permitted to shoot for only the first song, and any attempt to take a single photograph the second the final note ended, even accidentally, would result in the expulsion of all the photographers. One song. No pressure.
The hardest obstacle was the stage itself. They start the show with a ceiling to stage curtain made up of tens of thousands of long stringy fibers that light up during the show which I had to shoot under and onto the stage. That alone would not be too difficult, except in addition the stage being very high, storage boxes were placed in front it and stood so far out from the bottom of the stage that I couldn't even touch the stage.
Every show presents new challenges and I love it. My anxiety makes me a hot mess up until the second I take my first shot, but once I start, nothing else in the world matters. There is only the band in front of me and the camera on my face. And then the music stops, and I take a breath and review the images, and I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment and there in no better feeling.
I was given a ticket so that I could review the show as a whole, not just the first song. I bought my $8 cup of arena coffee and took my seat. The two and a half hour set was breathtaking.
You can find my full review here.
Come with me on some awesome photo adventures and a few wild shenanigans.