Friday night started off my weekend so awesomely because I was able to photograph a band that takes me back to high school when I think about them. If you are between the ages of 30-35 you probably have a string of bands from the 90’s that completely take you back to your days as a teenager. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are defiantly included in my list of triumphant acts that helped shape that time period of music in a way that expanded past the norm of the grunge or alternative acts that mostly came out of the 90’s. With the Bosstones having main stream success they helped bring to light a style of music called “Ska” that was underground, much like the early punk scenes that spawned bands such as The Misfits, Black Flag, and Pennywise. Ska is this great marriage between punk, big band, and reggae that has the unique quality of being songs that you can both dance and scream your lungs out to as you enjoy it. Coming into the concert club on Friday evening only seconds before the stage lights went up, I quickly remembered why The Bosstones are such a great band.
Hurrying to the pit before the first song started I threw my camera over my shoulder and got tossed right into it. With a band that hasn’t toured in a while and has members that are at least 15+ years older than the last time they were hitting the concert circuit, you might be expecting a more laid back performance. This was not the case with the Bosstones. Forgetting just how many performers are on stage at once, which I think totaled 8 for that evening, it is a site to see. Not alone does frontman Dickey Barrett rule the stage running from side to side making growling faces in-between gravely vocals that cut through the horns perfectly, you also have another band member that sings backup and energetically dances throughout ever song in their set. It was awesome and you should totally check this tour out if it is passing through a city near you. It’s not only a fun trip down memory lane, but it’s also a chance to see a band that puts on an amazing show.
Over the weekend Forest Park got rocked by well over 50 bands and an attendance that STL Today is reporting to be in the upwards of 17,000! Lou Fest seemed to be a success in it’s 5th year of tenor as a festival in the St. Louis, which brought in the likes of Arctic Monkey’s, Cake, Outkast, Grouplove and much more! It was my first year coving the event and in being a newbie I spent most of the day on Saturday taking it all in and experiencing the scene. I only covered Saturday so I wanted to make sure I walked away with an accurate view of what this festival has to offer our fine city, below are some of my observations.
The Scene - It was very chill with a high female attendance and it turned out to be a very family friendly event for hipster couples with kids. I inadvertently felt like I was in an episode of Girls and at the VP Fair off and on throughout the day. I did walk away from the festival with an overall feeling of being comfortable and would love to attend next year without any media obligations because it was truly a festival set up to entice attendees to sit in the shade, listen to new indie acts, and sip on a local micro-brew provided by Schlafly.
The Fo0d - Lou Fest had much of a Lollapalooza feel/setup and offered more “gourmet” or organic food options than you would find at a festival at Verizon Wireless. It was actually awesome and offered a great selection of local businesses to experience like Kaldi’s Coffee, Sugarfire Smokehouse, and Aya Sofia who had food stations decked out with restaurant quality dishes. I literally could have ate all day at the fair and enjoyed the live acts a soundtrack to food porn that the concessions area had to offer!
The Style - As I mentioned the attendance was very high female which was awesome to experience because you got to see this subculture of the city that cares about fashion trends and really owns the whole “hipster” vibe that seems to permeate out of those in the age ranges of 20 – 30. It was a great representation of our city and the indie pop community that is growing fast and is responsible for cultivating art based events like Lou Fest, which St. Louis constantly needs to keep providing for our community.
The Music – With the headliners being Arctic Monkeys and Cake on Saturday it left the day open for a lot of musical discoveries. With four stages to choose from and three stages that had bands on at the same time slots you almost had to pick the bands you wanted to see like picking Powerball numbers. I went in with a list of bands to catch throughout the day and it was like Christmas waiting to see how these acts were going to be to experience live. Between San Fermin, Skaters, Washed Out, Those Darlins, The 1975, and Future Days I can’t say which act I liked the best. Those Darlins caught me by surprise because they are led by two women who just rocked their set for the crowd and The 1975’s surprised me by the frenzy that ensued amongst the crowd as they took stage. Of course I enjoyed Arctic Monkey’s and Cake but the band I was really geeked out to see was Yo La Tengo. They are such an awesome jazzy/psychedelic jam band that you can totally get lost in!
In all it was a great day and I look forward to next year, where I plan on attending both days and sampling a whole slew of new indie acts!
Wednesday night I was back at my second home, The Pageant, covering the Theory of a Deadman show which also included Black Stone Cherry and 3 Pill Morning. Theory comes through St. Louis fairly regularly it seems and it appears they have a steady following. The floor was fairly packed with screaming women in the age range of 25-40 which I wasn’t expecting to see. Black Stone Cherry were pretty entertaining as well with a guitarist that one of the women in the front row described as, “A f**king reincarnation of Randy Rhodes”. I would say by appearance and stage presence she was pretty spot on. I can’t say much about the show though as I wasn’t much of a fan of any of the bands that were on the bill, not my cup of tea from a music stylings standpoint. Enjoy the pics nevertheless!
Last night was packed with two acts that completely shaped the landscape of classic rock as we know it. The iconic Jeff Beck has touched so many different bands that you could almost do a version of “7 Degrees of Bacon” with him. Then you have ZZ Top who brought a southern blues aspect to classic rock that has been a staple on radio airwaves for decades. It was amazing to see these guitar aficionado’s completely shine, showing they are masters at their craft as they flew through their sets. The guitar tone from Jeff Beck had such a modern and fat chunky sound, he completely lead his entire band through each song. It was impressive to see an act that really didn’t need a vocalist, Jeff Beck is one of the only axe men I’ve seen live that literally makes his guitar talk. Then you have ZZ Top which is a threesome packed to the brims with so much rhythm and riffs that they can amaze a crowd better then most 5 piece acts can manage to do. It was truly a night filled of guitar awesomeness! Do yourself a favor and see this tour because the encore will not disappoint, as both acts take the stage to trade riffs in a performance that will leave you wanting to hear more.
Last night was just what I needed to spark my fuze again for shooting concerts. Sometimes I think as a music photographer you get into these modes where you are kind of just going through the motions, picking up shows that come up, covering them, and handing photos over. It’s very much like a turn and burn workflow and during those times you start to loose site of what you love most about this art form that you pour countless hours of time into. The show last night was amazing and both bands put on stellar performances. Below are some things that really made the experience awesome for me when it came to each bands set.
These poor guys had the misfortune of having their van breakdown in Indiana on their way to the show, so badly that AAA had to come and pick them up. In fact their set was to start at 8pm and at 8:05 the garage door opened to reveal a AAA flatbed tow truck with their van on it, in which they promptly unloaded directly onto the stage. In a matter of minutes, by 8:15, the band was set up and just flew straight into their set. You could tell it was a hard day and they needed to blow off some steam. That feeling was felt by everyone in the room and we all gave them enthusiasm as they tore through one hell of an emotionally fuzzed set. They were taken back and thanked the crowd for making one of their worst days on tour the best they’ve had on the road in a long time!
Vocalist Mandy Lee, enough said. Look the band up, see them live, and you’ll know what I mean by just referencing her name. She is talented, a superior live performer, attractive, and she exuded the essence of what every female front women should have in a rock band.
The band was fantastic as well filled with a sax, horn, keyboardist, and drummer with an electronic drum pad mixed into an acoustic kit which when all combined made for a wonderfully layered melody of rock pop awesomeness!
Jack Antonoff really shines as a composer and writer on this project, in my opinion it surpasses anything I’ve heard from Fun and I hope to see him obtain the same kind of critically acclaimed success with this endeavor.
The sound of Bleachers music was pleasant as well, mixing a very 80’s influenced sound that to me mimicked the same style Bruce Springsteen had on “Born in the USA”. A couple tracks you could have mistaken for Springsteen covers in my opinion.
The energy was also amazing and really took the feeling in the room that MisterWives left the crowd with and carried it like a wave. Jack’s expressions and erratic movement of the mic stand from different points of the stage kept your eyes moving the whole time.
Enjoy the pics, The Ready Room graciously provided me with some excellent lighting which was responsible for these shots being captured so well! By the way, if you haven’t made it to the venue yet you are missing out. Think the Firebird but spaced out more comfortably with a fresh coat of paint, and located in an area with more eclectic restaurants than you can count!
This past Saturday was the 51st Annual Moonlight Ramble, and if you missed it this year I highly suggest attending next years event. With well over 5,000 cyclists in attendance it is quite a tremendous site to see as bikes fill the streets of downtown St. Louis with attendees starting their 19 mile route right in front of the grandeur of Busch Stadium! Of course if you are a more modest rider you can also choose a 9 mile route if you’d like a shorter ride. With the party kicking off around 10pm riders can socialize and hang out at a lighted parking lot with complimentary bottles of water, listen to a live band, and check out a string of vendor tents that offer anything from sampling chilled coffee drinks to having fun posing in group photos at the AARP sponsored photo booth. After the ride cyclists are then greeted back at the starting line with refreshments and snacks in celebration of completing their route through the streets and neighborhoods of the city of St. Louis. This is a great event for the young, old, and families alike; with this being the longest running nighttime bike ride in the US it is something that we should celebrate in pride for our city.
Last night was pretty freaking awesome. There are certain times in a career as a music photographer that you get an opportunity to photograph an artist that you are familiar with, but may not completely “get” as a performer. Leann Rimes is a prime example of the experience I’m describing. I had the photo pit to myself, I was covering the show for the venue, and I was the only photographer that was approved so I was bound and determined to walk away with some stellar shots. I am of course familiar with some of Leann’s hits throughout her career and it is clear that she is very talented and successful in her genre of music, but what I didn’t realize was that she puts on a fantastic live performance. Being accustom to shooting primarily rock shows and not too many country acts I wasn’t expecting to move around too much in the pit or to have a hard time framing the artist in my shots. I was so wrong in such a great way, Leann had so much energy and she provided some very emotionally driven concert shots! In fact I believe these are some of the best images to date that I’ve included in my portfolio. In all it was a great show to experience and I’m thankful I was there to capture it in pixels.
Last night was what 1057 The Point deemed as their “Big Summer Show” and the line up was packed. Featuring Panic At the Disco, 21 Pilots, Fitz and the Tantrums, Walk The Moon, and Magic Man. As you can tell the line up kind of had a little bit of something to offer everyone. They are in fact all great acts and they are all currently having a great deal of success. Below are a couple observations I had regarding each band.
Magic Man – I unfortunately missed their set.
Walk The Moon – They are a fresh band loving every minute of it and you can tell from their performance. They have a lot of energy and offer a very active live show, I’ll be giving them a listen soon.
Fitz and the Tantrums – This makes the third time I’ve photographed this band and this time I was allowed to shoot the entire set! It was awesome and no matter if you are a fan of their record or not, you will enjoy seeing them live. It is truly music that you can groove to and their entire set is performed to encourage crowd participation!
21 Pilots – I can not say enough about the tremendous act this band is live. From dramatic lighting with a LED drum riser to the usual back flip off the piano, you can be assured that you will be actively entertained through this bands entire set.
Panic At The Disco – I have also photographed this band three times, each in a different sized venue. The first time was at the Firebird, the second time was at The Pageant, and this time it was at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Each time one thing has been consistent, this band causes a frenzy with their fans. Every time there have been screaming girls that were almost crying, as well as countless other ones being pulled from the crowd due to being caught in the hysteria on the floor. It’s a special thing to witness this kind of reaction from a crowd.
Enjoy the pics and happy concert season, it’s my favorite time of year!!
On Wednesday I was attending another show at a venue that is fantastically becoming like a second home to me. Gary Clark Jr. totally rocked the Pageant and the crowd was so ready to receive his performance. I love it as a music photographer when you get to cover a show for an artist you’re not very familiar with but is currently causing a buzz in the industry, and you could defiantly tell that in St. Louis there is a bit of a “buzz” regarding Gary Clark Jr. The venue was fairly full that evening, if not close to capacity, and the crowd was so enthusiastic by chanting “GARY!, GARY!” as Mr. Clark took stage. Opening the set with a very slow groove blues track with a dirty distorted riff and low lighting really helped capture the essence of Clark’s sound. If you are a fan of blues in general but love The Black Keys, Black Joe Lewis, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughn then you really must stop what you’re doing and look Gary Clark Jr. up on Spotify. Sometimes as born and bread citizens of St. Louis I think we collectively forget how much rich history we have in the genre’s of Jazz and Blues music, and it’s really awesome to see shows in those genre’s to only realize that the passion for these types of music are still very deep seeded in the culture of our city. It was a great night of live music with an artist that is owning it in his category of the industry. Check out Gary Clark Jr. and please let me know what you thought about the show!
Tuesday was such a great opportunity for me to photograph a veteran in the music industry. Mr. Boz Scaggs performed to a sold out crowd at River City Casino, and as someone who has photographed at this venue many times, it was the most packed I’ve ever seen the theatre! Scaggs, being most well known as a member and sometimes lead vocalist in the Steve Miller Band, has maintained quite the devout following over the years. I knew of him as a solo artist, being exposed to some of his material on Hip 96.3 HD3 and checking out his latest release. If you are a fan of great guitarist who can run scales down the neck board just as well as any axe man schooled in the art of playing the blues can, then you really need to check out hit entire catalog. Also if you haven’t caught a show at River City Casino yet do yourself a favor and plan to see a show in the near future. It’s comfortable, the sound it superb, and it offers some great choices to grab dinner before a show.