Bedouin Soundclash in black and white

Surrey Fusion Fest 2011: Bedouin Soundclash

Every once in a while, I find that processing a photo in black and white presents a different feeling to a shot altogether. And while that’s an obvious statement, I don’t like to do it very often.

I liked the way you see Jay and Eon (Bedouin Soundclash) come together at the center of the stage to focus on just each other for a brief portion of the song, forgetting everyone and everything else around them.

Pulling the color out of this one gives me more of a feeling that should be replicated by concert photography. It’s easy to get the photo of the lead singer at the microphone while he or she sings to the people in front of them. What’s more important to me is to capture those moments on stage that represents the intimacy of what live performances really are.

After all, I’m more of a fan than I am a photographer because I’ve been going to rock shows longer than I’ve owned a camera.

See more photos from this show at

The Geography of Rock & Roll and the World Around You

I got a posting on my Facebook wall about a band that was from Iowa, The Autumn Project. The question was about if I knew about them because we’re both from the same state and the person really hoped they would come to Vancouver.

It seems like I’ve seen their name float by me at some point, but it’s tough to say that I know a whole lot about them. Reading up on them a little bit, I found out that they’re from Des Moines, Iowa. And actually, they’re right in the middle of one of those “indefinite hiatus” situations.

But the thing that struck me is when I found on that they were from the central portion of Iowa, my first thought was, “Of course I don’t know who they are, they’re from the central portion of the state.” And it’s completely true.

A night out at Gabe's Oasis (2003)

My hub for a music scene was Iowa City for a number of years. There were those two or three hour road trips for a show on occasion, and that was often for acts from other states or countries on their tour route.

I think that once you start to get into a local music scene, your efforts of venturing out of your home base doesn’t seem as important. It’s not about losing connection with it. You just have the ability to have close proximity to something you enjoy while having plenty of friends who are able to tag along (or drag along in some cases).

In the last six months before I moved to Vancouver, we took one of our popular WSUI radio shows on the road to a coffee shop in downtown Des Moines, and the neighborhood in the area of the downtown core that I discovered really surprised me.

There was a feeling of creativity in the area we were in, and the amount of concert flyers I saw for local bands and musicians performing in the downtown area alone was impressive. I recall thinking at the time that I had never given Des Moines much of a thought for a local music scene. That’s almost a regret… Almost.

And yes, Slipknot came from that city and is one of the only bands that many people know from Iowa. They were the only ones I could actually name around that time, but my knowledge was more populated with artists from the eastern part of the state. You never looked west.

Photo with Troubled Hubble at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City (2003)

I became friends with a lot of bands who called Iowa City home or claimed it to be one of them. I’d get other friends to come along or have great nights out with those passing through town, sometimes to catch a good show.

Being in Vancouver, that’s what’s fun about finding a new music scene, and I’m still learning. Even brief excursions to Victoria, cover band or not, goes to show that getting out of your comfort zone is healthy more often than none. Even if you’re let down, that’s just apart of the education of learning what finding a diamond in the rough is all about.

A private performance with Lights

Lights stopped by work today for a private performance

I had a fairly big project going on with the day job today, but there was a brief moment that relieved a little bit of the stress. I forgot about the email that mentioned Lights was coming in for a performance in our lounge at the station. I snagged my camera and snapped a few shots for the one song that I could stick around for.

I caught Lights about a year ago when I shot photos of Jets Overhead at The Commodore. She was the headliner, but I didn’t have a photo pass for her performance, just the opening act.

Lights takes my musical tastes to realms not usually tread, and I can’t help but appreciate the passion she has in her craft. She was also pretty brilliant live.

The Appleseed Cast at the Biltmore Cabaret

The Appleseed Cast @ Biltmore Cabaret I’ve been a fan of The Appleseed Cast for a number of years now. Originally calling Lawrence, Kansas home, they passed through Iowa City a number of times during my days there.

So when they came through Vancouver and played the Biltmore Cabaret on March 9th, I took the opportunity to shoot some of their performance as they passed through town.

I processed all of these in black and white for a couple of reasons. First, the Biltmore, even though a great venue for music acts like this, is dark and has a low ceiling. On top of that, the lighting was low and green for the entire duration of the show. That pretty much makes every single photo make each person look green from head to toe.

The black and white seems to bring out the initmacy of the venue as well as the performance. This show is on their Low Level Owl Tour, playing the entirety of two early albums, Low Level Owl, Vol. 1 and Low Level Owl, Vol. 2.

In all honesty, these are two albums that I have the least amount of familiarity with, but I ran into a co-worker at the show who is an even bigger fan of the guys. He told me that this was a brilliantly spot on performance of two classic albums for The Appleseed Cast fans.
Continue reading “The Appleseed Cast at the Biltmore Cabaret”

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.

Red carpet photos from the 2009 Juno Awards

As apart of the day job, I had the opportunity to shoot some photos at the red carpet event for the 2009 Juno Awards last weekend. Some of Canada’s best known musicians and performers came through to talk to members of The Beat morning show, so I did my best to shoot through the thick crowd of fellow media members, such as other photographers, producers, TV cameras, etc.

Here’s a few of my favorite shots.

2009 Junos Red Carpet for The Beat 94.5fm
Elise Estrada
2009 Junos Red Carpet for The Beat 94.5fm
Sam Roberts
2009 Junos Red Carpet for The Beat 94.5fm
MuchMusic VJ, Leah Miller and Dallas Green of City and Colour
2009 Junos Red Carpet for The Beat 94.5fm
Mike Reno of Loverboy
2009 Junos Red Carpet for The Beat 94.5fm
Elvis Costello and Diana Krall
2009 Junos Red Carpet for The Beat 94.5fm
Sarah McLachlan

You can see all of the photos from that night on Flickr, and I’m fairly impressed with how some turned out compared to others. All of these were shot with my Canon S5IS, and I took some time after this to learn more about my camera in anticipation of having more opportunities like this. You never know what type of situation you’ll be in when you get to shoot events like this, and it really made me feel like a newbie standing there.

People have asked me a few times as to what I thought about the whole experience, and to be completely honest, it was just another day on the job. However, when Elvis Costello walked up with his stunning wife, Diana Krall, I did have a brief moment of where I couldn’t believe how close I was standing to a man of great talent, if not a lasting impression on rock and roll history. That would have to be my highlight of the Junos.

Refused – new noise

This one is loud, so you are warned. Coming home the other day, this popped up on random and reminded me of how much I loved to play this song at two in the afternoon on my college radio station, completely going to a different side of the spectrum of playing something nice and mellow to something such as… Refused.

The group disbanded in 1998, and fortunately for all of us, members of this band went on to form two other projects that I thoroughly enjoy, The (International) Noise Conspiracy and The Lost Patrol Band. Look for a new album from T(I)NC at the end of November.

Less Than Jake at the Commodore Ballroom

This past Thursday night, Less Than Jake played the Commodore Ballroom on a double ticket with Reel Big Fish. It was like being taken back to 1998 all over again, but the show didn’t fail to deliver. RBF and LTJ can still rock it something fierce.

Less Than Jake @ The Commodore - Sep. 18, 2008

Even better, RadioZoom got an interview with Chris in the afternoon before the show, Rebecca being on the prowl with the recording gear. It’s a great interview explaining why they have gone the way of being an independent band on their own label as well as the type of witty banter that can only come from the front man for Less Than Jake.

The interview also gave us photo access for the show, so here are some of my favorite shots I took from the front of the stage.

Less Than Jake @ The Commodore - Sep. 18, 2008

Less Than Jake @ The Commodore - Sep. 18, 2008

Less Than Jake @ The Commodore - Sep. 18, 2008

Less Than Jake @ The Commodore - Sep. 18, 2008

Less Than Jake @ The Commodore - Sep. 18, 2008

Less Than Jake @ The Commodore - Sep. 18, 2008

Less Than Jake @ The Commodore - Sep. 18, 2008

It was a wicked show. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any shots of Reel Big Fish, but needless to say, they still put on a hell of a performance. I have forgotten how much fun ska/punk concerts are, mainly because of that damn corporate machine that says ska died about ten years ago. I think not.

You can see all of my photos from the night on the Flickr set.