Billy Idol at the Pemberton Music Festival, 2016

Pemberton Music Festival 2016

Say what you will about Billy Idol. He’s been doing this rock and roll thing for a long, long time and still being Billy Idol like it’s nobody’s business.

I was very fortunate to get some of the best shots I think I’ve ever had the opportunity to shoot when it comes to concert photography. This one would be my favorite during his performance at the Pemberton Music Festival in July of 2016.

See more photos in this Pemberton Music Festival 2016 on flickr.

Death Cab For Cutie at Pacific Coliseum

Death Cab For Cutie at Pacific Coliseum: July 2009

Last Thursday, Rebecca and I saw Death Cab For Cutie at Pacific Coliseum with opening acts Ra Ra Riot and New Poronographers. Thanks to some appreciation from Live Nation and our social media endeavors, we got a photo pass to send me into the pit at the front of the stage for each band.

New Pornographers at Pacific Coliseum: July 2009

New Pornographers at Pacific Coliseum: July 2009

Unfortunately, traffic made us too late to catch Ra Ra Riot, but the New Pornographers put on a really great performance, in their hometown no less. My time inside ended as they kicked into “Use It”, but their set was pretty fantastic from what I got to hear.

The highlight of the night was certainly Death Cab For Cutie, a band that I’ve been following for a number of years, from their indie label days to their hefty deal with one of the big boys. This was certainly a treat, but shooting from the front of a stage that’s about five feet high and in low light wasn’t easy.

Death Cab For Cutie at Pacific Coliseum: July 2009

Death Cab For Cutie at Pacific Coliseum: July 2009

Death Cab For Cutie at Pacific Coliseum: July 2009

Death Cab For Cutie at Pacific Coliseum: July 2009

This was my first time seeing these guys in all the years I’ve been following their music. A funny story is when I was at SXSW in 2003, I was doing the typical bounce around the city one of the nights to see as much live music as I possibly could. If you’ve been to Austin, TX during the madness that is SXSW, you know how this goes.

Death Cab was a band that I had played a number of times and really liked during my days at KRUI, but I wasn’t completely familiar with their library of tunes nor really knew what they looked like. After seeing another one of my other favorite acts, Shiner, I was supposed to link up with our whole crew from the station at the Death Cab For Cutie performance a few blocks away. Of course, this is SXSW, so getting from one part of the city to another, in a town that you’ve never been to before, with all sorts of loudness and craziness coming from what seems like everywhere, I ended up in the wrong venue.

The odd thing is, the act on stage, who I thought for a brief moment was actually Death Cab For Cutie, was actually The Promise Ring. Those guys were amazing, and I’m really thankful I made this mistake because they ended up calling it quits not too long after (splitting up to another act worth checking out, Maritime, comprised of members from another favorite band but now also defunct, The Dismemberment Plan).

Death Cab For Cutie put on an amazing show that I got to finish watching from my seat. They played a lot of good stuff from their first few albums, which are probably my favorites in terms of their catalog. The sound was also excellent, something that is often not so great in large venues like this. Still, there is a large part of me that wishes I could see them perform in a small venue during those earlier days in Austin.

You can see all my photos from the show on Flickr.

Photographs from Surrey Canada Day celebrations

Rebecca was contacted by the fine folks at the city of Surrey to be a media co-sponsor for their Canada Day events in Cloverdale. July 1st saw nearly 40,000 people crowd onto the Cloverdale Millennium Amphitheater grounds to play games, see stilt walkers, get their faces painted, and see a jam packed line-up of musical acts on the main stage, including the likes of Rymes With Orange, The Payola$, and Loverboy.

Surrey Canada Day 2008

Events like this tend to find me with media access for the both of us, and of course that means I have to take my camera along with. You can read all of Rebecca’s coverage of the event [Surrey Canada Day 2008: The Schedule, Morning Recap, The Music], but the following are some of my favorite shots that I took.

Surrey Canada Day 2008

Surrey Canada Day 2008

Surrey Canada Day 2008

Will is a really amazing musician. See him live if you can because you must.

Surrey Canada Day 2008

Surrey Canada Day 2008

Surrey Canada Day 2008

Surrey Canada Day 2008

Surrey Canada Day 2008

That’s Mr. Bob Rock[wiki], ladies and gentlemen, in the flesh.

Surrey Canada Day 2008

You can see all 104 photos on Flickr. Shooting outdoor events can be a lot of fun, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s loud in the photo pit, not to mention the sweltering heat on that day. Sometimes I feel intimidated by being surrounded with folks that have larger and much more expensive photo equipment, but the pictures that come out from my endeavors tend to speak for themselves. It’s not what you got that matters. It’s how you use it, and I’m doing my damnedest to learn my camera and get better with every shot.

The folks at the Surrey Canada Day event were amazing in terms of getting us the media access and letting us know the low down on what was going on, where everything was located, and were just generally awesome people. By far, the best treatment I have ever experienced in terms of media access for new media folks.

Holly McNarland at the East Vancouver Cultural Center

Holly McNarland
Photo credit: gusgreeper on Flickr

I know the picture is dark, but this whole venue was dark except for the light that shined on the performers. Actually, a few songs into Holly McNarland‘s set, the lights seem to brighten and change colors. Otherwise, Corinna‘s picture here is pretty spot on.

Rebecca has been a fan of Holly’s music for a long time, so I’m familiar with the music. Can’t say that I know a lot of words to very many songs, not to mention the few songs titles that I can name off the top of my head. The one thing I do know is that Holly can wail.

Bottom line, an amazing performance at the East Vancouver Cultural Center. Stripped down to a point, there was no percussion, aside from the occasional tambourine, and some subtle electric guitar to add a little extra where needed. Other than that, acoustic guitars and a fellow female vocalist to provide backing vocals where needed. Worked out beautifully.

On the latest episode of RadioZoom, I was mentioning the amount of “da da da’s” that were utilized in her and the opening act’s music. Adaline probably doesn’t have a song on her latest album called “Da Da Da” like Holly McNarland does, but at a certain point in the evening, I heard a lot of da-da-da-ing going on.

True that I’ve been to a lot of rock shows with a fair share of yeah’s being screamed, and the key thing is that both of these women were using their amazing voices to sing this simplest of syllables. Still, it was something that really stuck out to me.

In the end, she’s still got it. Even after having a child less than a year ago, she was able to get this album put together and out to the masses. Couldn’t have asked for a better, more intimate venue as well.

Sparta at the Pacific Colosseum

It’s true that Sparta was opening the show for Alice In Chains and Velvet Revolver last Friday, but I think my mind went in reverse for this show. We caught the first half of Alice in Chains and missed out on all of Velvet Revolver. We got in there just in time for Sparta to take the stage, though.

Ticket and pass to interview Sparta

Actually, RadioZoom was slated to have yet another interview with the band[RZ#118, RZ#130], this time with Keeley and Tony. Sadly, and you can read Rebecca’s post about the whole night, it just didn’t work out. This was night number one of being on this tour with VR, taking them around various parts of North America.

Combine the working out the kinks and a big arena show, it wasn’t the strongest performance I’ve seen from Sparta. Don’t get me wrong, they played really well, and the last few songs all seemed uber tight and rocking. I chalk it up to first show jitters. The quarter full Pacific Colosseum received them very, very well.

As an extra mention, Alice In Chains, believe it or not, were pretty amazing. I was a total, non-believer of them going back out on the road without Layne Staley[wiki]. At the same time, we have to be honest to ourselves and understand that Layne is gone forever, so that this would happen isn’t all too surprising. You can’t expect it to be the same or as good as it ever was, so the show must go on, right?

Rocking the Gorge
Photo credit: Jenya Campbell on Flickr

Well holy crap, was I ever blown away. William DuVall[wiki] actually works. The guy has a voice that fits with Alice In Chains, and stage presence never hurts. Even though he has big shoes to fill, I think he is doing a hell of a job making a mark for himself. When they opened up with Again and then busted into Grind right after that, I looked at Rebecca and asked, “Remember when we were sixteen?” To me, that means something. I wanted to keep hearing them rock out and relive my glory days in the nineties, but I had a job to do.

As a side note, I can also say that I’ve seen Jerry Cantrell[wiki] play. Maybe not one of the biggest guitar gods in the world, but a prominent person, to me, in rock and roll history when it comes to the heyday of the Seattle grunge scene. He’s really skinny, too.

Response from students who opposed a U.K. rock show

Awhile back, I made a post about how I couldn’t believe that students at a small college in the U.K. protested against a rock show by the band Clinic so they could focus on their studies instead. You can read my post and get more background information here.

The beauty of the internet is that someone who was actually there found my post and left a comment on it, four months after the whole ordeal. Additionally, “Sue” was one of those students who opposed the show and gave her account of what happened and why. I find this incredibly fascinating that I’m posting her comment here to make an update to my previous post in this topic.

This is such an old story if feels odd posting a comment, but I only came across all the internet ranting on the issue today. I was one of the students that protested about the gig, to be honest we were told it had moved venue and thought nothing more of the matter. However now I feel that I should set the record straight(although probably no-one will even read this).

The gig that was to “last a couple of hours” demanded that we destroy our sculptures in order to move out of the performance space; our studios. We were given one weeks notice. A couple of weeks after the scheduled gig we had a very important assessment that lead directly into our degree show. After three years of studying our result is determined by the degree show. This assesment was CRUCIAL. However we were told to remove everything from the studio(which demanded destroying many of the works). We would have less than 1 week to build new work before our 3 year degree began to be assessed on the basis on what was being presented.

Also in response to the endless record company lies, It wasn’t the first gig to be played there since the sex pistol. A year prior to the clinic scheduled gig a big promotional gig with the paddingtons had happened to mark the 30th anniversary of the sex pistol’s first gig. Central Saint Martins has used this fact to establish itself as a venue to whore band, making false connection with rock’s history, to create artifical connections between the music industry and art students, when infact its just the old money making men pushing promotional bullshit. It was a disguting act of record label PR/branding. Yuk!!!

And finally, not to be rude but St Martins is not a “small” school, it is internationally reknowned for its on going contribution to our creative environment. Its just a shame that the reality of this reputation (you see really the sex pistols played for 5 minutes before college heads unplugged them and chucked them out)is perpetuated by vulgar marketing, where the dean ignores his students in order to contrive PR stunts with money hungry record companies.

Thanks for the clarification, and I certainly stand corrected on the details. I am very much against having anything destroyed when it comes to art, so you officially have my support, Sue. This shows a real beauty in the reach that blogging has, and your comment certainly reached me.

Sparta at the Commodore Ballroom last night

Sparta @ The Commodore

Photo credit: Rebecca on Flickr

Absolutely amazing show. We’ll have a RadioZoom episode posted of our interview with Keeley Davis from Sparta within the start of next week.

The Decemberists riding Colbert’s coattails

I find this particular funny because The Decemberists are coming to Vancouver in the very near future. I guess the use of toy light sabers is pretty good, too.

Update: It appears that The Decemberists are firing back at Colbert with their own challenge. Pitchfork got an email from the band addressing this pretty good attempt at gaining some public exposure.

Interview with Sparta confirmed for RadioZoom

Sparta (credit: Johnny Buzzerio)I’m super excited to announce that RadioZoom will be having the opportunity to interview Sparta when they are in town for their show at Richards on Richards this weekend. I have officially made Rebecca my go to public relations person for the podcast, and she has delivered big time, no doubt about it.

Like many fans of the band, I’ve been a fan of Sparta since the day they formed. No, I wasn’t one of those cool kids with my ear to the underground and knowledge of all things good. Well, maybe just a little bit, but when the forever memorable At the Drive-In[wiki] split up, Sparta was formed by three guys from the band. If you’ve ever heard the name The Mars Volta, that is what the other two members went on to. However, Paul Hinojos left Sparta nearly a year ago to join The Mars Volta.

In 1999, I went to my first CMJ Music Marathon in New York. The Foo Fighters were slated to play at the Bowery Ballroom in a somewhat early show, so a bunch of us stood in line for a few hours to check them out. More impressive than seeing them on stage was the opening band which none of us knew a lot about, and they were seemingly insane. Amazingly good, but insane.

Sad to say, I never knew who they were for months afterward. When we got At the Drive-In’s new album at KRUI a little while later, I started to piece it all together. That band I saw, with the afros and craziness on stage, was At the Drive-In.

I’ve been keeping tabs on Sparta since their first album, “Wiretap Scars“, and their two follow up albums have yet to disappoint me. Their most recent release, “Threes“, is available in stores now. I’ve had a listen through just a few times, so it is hard for me to really convey a decent review of the album. However, I assure you, it’s way, way good.

The most interesting part of doing this interview is the way Sparta has embraced new media. Their involvement with their website is very noticeable, connecting to fans in this highly digital age with podcasts and embedded videos to send out information to fans. My hope is to explore their reasons behind it and geek out with rock stars a little bit.

radiozoom.netIt is because of this that we think they have given the green light to meeting Rebecca and I for a brief conversation before their show on Saturday night. The scope of RadioZoom is always exploring new avenues, and the recent interview with Aberdeen City is a prime example of that. It feels good to be getting back into the realm of interacting with musicians, like I did during my time in radio, but we can try so many different things through podcasting that you simply can’t on the airwaves.

Richards on Richards, too little on too late

I had my first experience with checking out a show at Richards on Richards last night. I’ve been told for a long time that it’s one of the best venues in the city, and there is a lot of truth to that. Not too big and not too small. It’s just right.

Aberdeen City at Richards on RichardsThe main reason we showed up there last night was because Rebecca arranged an interview with Aberdeen City, who was opening up for Electric Six. We recorded a bunch of audio for a podcast, but her interview post is up. She also gets photo credit here.

The craziest thing about this experience was not only was I getting to see a show there, but we got to go backstage to talk with Aberdeen City. In fact, it was in the green room, but it was more like a storage closet that was turned into a place for performers to hang out. Not a lot of room, nor was it exactly “green”. It still made for a cozy setting to hang out for the two of us plus the four guys from the band. Members of Electric Six wondered in and out, but my ignorance couldn’t tell you who was who.

So here it was, my first time walking through the doors of a rock and roll mecca of sorts, and before seeing the stage, we’re wisked behind the door where most rabid fans would kill to step through. There really wasn’t that tight of security to stop us, and the size of the place kind of forces the band to come out into the bar area and socialize with the crowd. It’s one of those small, intimate club types of places. For me, that’s the real way to experience a good performance.

The sound in the place is really impressive. The bass from just the kick drum is enough to make your pant legs flutter from soundwaves hitting it. The PA is bright and makes it very easy to hear the vocals. You won’t see a big and fancy light show in the place, but what they do have is really effective.

Sadly, this could be thefirst and last show I ever see there. I was told by front man Brad Parker from Aberdeen City that he heard about plans to tear the place down in about a year. In true Yaletown fashion, the mecca will be replaced by a high rise building. Expect over priced condos as well.

We have yet to figure out where, but Richards is relocating. Once again, this is some thing Parker told us, but I haven’t been able to locate any information about those details. Naturally, it will never been the same as it was. Charm is something that only comes with history, no matter how dirty or dank a place might be considered. Rock and roll is never clean and pure. It’s an experience.