“Bottles and Cans, Just Clap Your Hands”…

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So last night was another bucket list show for me.  In my time of doing concert photography I have had the opportunity to photograph almost every artist that I listened to throughout my youth.  If you are a 90′s kid you really can’t talk musical history without mentioning Beck.  From his first single “Loser” to his latest single “Blue Moon” you can pretty much hear the talent and growth he has had as an artist, which makes him fun to be a fan of.  Last night I think he surprised the sold out crowd at The Pageant as he ripped right into well known hits from the get go.  His set started with “Devil’s Haircut” and ended with “Where It’s At” tagged with a Rolling Stones cover on “Miss You”.  I had to leave the theatre with my camera gear but I sat outside the doors watching through the glass window until I heard my favorite track “Lost Cause”, which was 10 songs into his 24 song setlist.  It was freaking awesome and I was very proud of his stage performance that only rang true the opinion I’ve had for a long time, which is that they just don’t make rock stars like they did in the 90′s.  No over the top lighting spectacle was used, no gimmicks, and no over the top rock star attitude was displayed for the crowd.  It was just a man on stage performing songs he loves for a crowd that was connecting with the emotions he put into every track when he originally wrote them.  The purity of a good rock show is like seeing God…that may be a bit dramatic but you get what I’m trying to say if you love a good rock concert!  Speaking of which, rock royalty Sean Lennon opened the show with his band The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and let me tell you it’s probably the best version of a rock band I’ve heard Sean put out.  I think people view him harshly because they expect the genius of John Lennon, but the chromosomes are still there and the guy can write a well constructed song.  If you need to bag on somebody blame Yoko, all the die hard Beatles fans do anyway.  If you can’t tell already I was a big fan of the show and you should catch Beck as he tours through the states, he is playing Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend in Chicago which is not too far from Missouri and many other neighboring Midwest cities.  Do a road trip to see a rock show, you’ll never forget the experience!

Fall Out Boy and Paramore at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater – July 6th, 2014

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Let me first start off by saying that I had no idea what to expect when I showed up at last nights show.  I kind of expected to feel old and see tons of young-ins, which was the case but not the norm for the medium age of the crowd.  Forgetting that both Fall Out Boy and Paramore have been around individually for at least 10 years, their fan base was a little more diverse than I expected.  What completely took me by surprise was Paramore’s live act.

Already knowing that Hayley Williams is known for her exuberant and high energy live performances, I have to say what surprised me was the bands stage presence and set up.  Us photographers oddly enough got to photograph their last three songs as opposed to the first three, which is usually he standard and man it was great to shoot a band at the end of their set.  The lights were in full effect and we were purposely sent out there at that time to catch the confetti and balloon ball extravaganza that ended the bands set.  As you can tell I went a little crazy taking photos of them and I actually felt bad that Fall Out Boy had to follow them.  Anytime an opening act gets a standing ovation and takes a bow, you know the main act is going to have to follow the first bands performance with something even more amazing.  Unfortunately when Fall Out Boy took stage it was kind of like the crowd got tossed a wet blanket.

The bands sound was amazing and they were on point with their stage performance, but after seeing them portrayed in the media for many years I could have only hoped that the eccentric Pete Wentz would have been working the crowd a little more than he did.  To be honest, I had trouble finding a photo I captured of him where he looked enthused.  Vocalist Patrick Stump hit his vocals flawlessly, and as I stated before, but it just felt like something was missing and that the fire the band once had was extinguished long ago.  Regardless, I still had a blast and I hope you can tell I did from viewing my slideshow from last night.

Emily Galati at The Funny Bone – June 19th, 2014

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This past Thursday night marked many firsts for me,  on the top of that list was that for the first time I was able to attend a comedy night at the Funny Bone in Valley Park presented by the fine folks at Indio Radio…AKA The John and Kane Show!  One other thing that was a new experience for me was being able to see a show at the new Funny Bone location located right off 141 in Meramec Valley Plaza, prior to this I had only been to the location in West Port.  It’s actually in the same plaza as a popular bar called Bobby’s Place in honor of St. Louis Blues player Bobby Plager.  The headliner, Emily Galati, hails from Chicago and has a very unique style that is a perfect mix between awkward and dry humor, which personally I love.  Her first joke of the night was about Midwest driving and the lack of acknowledgment you get when trying to use your “blinker”.  If you live in St. Louis you understand this and it was the perfect joke to get the crowd going.  As Emily continued her style became more prevalent and lead into great life experience bits about how it really is like to be a single 29 year old female in today’s society.  One situation she spoke of was about how she got high for the first time at age 29 and how awkward it was, and another story was about walking up on a dude getting a blow job in an alley.  Both stories were hilarious and her delivery was awesome, the crowd appeared to be entertained as well.  Not alone was Emily great to see, her two supporting acts killed it as well.

Nathan Horton opened the show and his routine focused a lot on how douchey typical guys could be and how prevalent that is in situations where you have to interact with the “brosef’s” of the world. Andrew Frank followed Nathan perfectly with a set that was riddled with raunchy observations about religion, sex, cumming, and farm animals which are all about the most un-P.C. things a comic could possibly throw into their act.  The interesting thing was that Andrew’s delivery of the material, which some would consider obscene, was some of the funniest shit I’ve heard in a long time.  He often got tickled by his own jokes and was almost apologetic in his delivery which made it hilarious.

If you are looking for a great night out stop by the Funny Bone in Valley Park, Emily Galati is wrapping up her last night of a three day headlining stint tonight.  Have some good drinks and good laughs, and come by any Thursday to catch another Indio Radio Presents Comdey Night at the Funny Bone!

Experiencing Minneapolis

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After a week off on vacation coming back to the grind was not at the top of my list of things I had to do this week, but it is necessary to be able to afford to have experiences like I had while staying in Minneapolis.  Coming from a mid-west city I think I generally expect every metropolis to be booming and an urban jungle of activity, Minneapolis was none of these.

In my time visiting the city it was interesting to observe how the weather and landscape really affects the lifestyle and culture of a given area.  Minnesota being known more for it’s outdoor scenery and activities, it was amazing to see how that affected city life.  Everyone road their bikes or walked to most places and the city was sprinkled with tons of smaller parks that were often built around a water source of some sort.  Below is a list of some of the sites I visited while exploring the area.

  1. Gold Medal Flour Mill and Mississippi Riverfront - This again was awesome to experience because I come from a “river town” that turned into a city built alongside the Mississippi River.  The fantastic quality of this city is that they built a pedestrian bridge that spans for miles and crosses over the river.  As you can see it is more rough than the St. Louis riverfront, making the Mississippi look like white water rapids.
  2. Minneapolis Sculpture Park featuring Walker’sArtist Designed Mini-Golf - As I stated the city has many little parks scattered all over the place.  This park in particular was fascinating because it is home to an 18 hole artist designed mini-golf course.  The holes span from ping-pong tables with fixed paddles sticking out to bump you ball off of, to a hole that turns into a foosball game where you use yard gnome figures to putt your ball into the hole.  There is also a giant cherry on a spoon…so…
  3.  Lake Harriet and the Como-Harriet Street Car Line - This area was beautiful and would be where I would spend all of my time if I lived in this city.  Lake Harriet is part of an area referred to as the Chain of Lakes and it connects to three other lakes.  There is a walking trail that will take your around each lake, a fantastic walk up eatery stand, a Japanese garden, a special local hidden gem known as the tree gnome, and the historical Como-Harriet Street Car Line.  I walked miles this day and it was completely worth it!
  4. Duluth, MN and Lake Superior – So me and my wife have many things we do, one of them is to try and see all the Great Lakes within our lifetime.  This goal lead us to take a day trip two hours outside of Minneapolis to Duluth, MN.  Needless to say Lake Superior lived up to it’s name and seemed like the ocean spanning so far out that you couldn’t see the other side.  This sounds like a ridiculous statement to make but I have never experienced that at a lake in Missouri.  Aside from this natural wonder Duluth also has a few great micro-brew pubs, an array of great shops, and is home to one of the only two Ariel Lift Bridges ever built in the US.
  5. Minnehaha Park and Lock and Dam No. 1 - This was another park that is built around a very impressive waterfall called Minnehaha Falls which is a tributary of the Mississippi River and connects with the river not far from Lock and Dam No. 1.  Minnehaha Park not only has the falls that has a natural wading pool to cool off in, it also houses a band stand located right next to a local walk up seafood eatery called Sea Salt.  The Lock and Dam No. 1 is not far from the falls and is accessible to a self guided tour throughout the year.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the neat places I found to experience in Minneapolis and I encourage you to visit this area if you’re looking for a truly relaxing getaway.  I also suggest bringing a camera because their in no lack of picturesque landscapes to capture.

 

Broken Bells at Pageant – June 16th, 2014

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So let me first start by explaining that over the last three years I’ve photographed hundreds of bands at all levels of success and at venues of all sizes.  In all my experiences one thing remains true, that as a music photographer when the band first sets foot on stage you are officially on the clock for the next three songs, and I personally take those 15 or so minutes very seriously.  Sometimes though you get a moment where you are photographing a band and the music just over comes you like you were in the crowd, you start jiving as you move through the pit and you are defiantly having the time of your life.  Gigs that evoke that emotion in me is what I love about concert photography and one of the times I enjoyed myself the most was during The Shins set at Lollapalooza 2012.  That being said I’m totally just as huge of a fan of Broken Bells because James Mercer is phenomenal, and with the addition of the musical genius of Brain Burton (aka Danger Mouse) what is not to love about this band?  Monday nights show at the Pageant did not disappoint and below are my top five favorite moments of the night:

  1. Hearing the craziness from the devout Broken Bells fans from the first few rows of the floor was great to experience as they screamed like metal fans waiting for Lemmy to melt their faces off, it was refreshing to witness.
  2. Observing the multiple instrument changes throughout the set that Mercer and Burton accomplished between keyboards, guitars, and bass was awesome.  Not to mention their bass/guitar player that hid in the back and also handled multiple supporting instruments throughout the set.
  3. The lighting set up was also unique as they used a projection screen to display cosmic scenes throughout the set and rotating stage lights that shot rays of light from behind the drum riser sending starred patterns of light across the entire stage.
  4. Having the opportunity to see Mercer let loose a bit on stage as he had the luxury of putting down his guitar from time to time on certain songs.
  5. Catching this band on their tour for their second release was awesome as well because you got to hear a good mix of both albums.

I highly suggest checking this tour out if it passes through your town.

 

Chvrches at The Pageant – June 2nd, 2014

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This past Monday I covered the Chvrches show at the Pageant which is yet another band to add to the list of acts that make me feel old.  Maybe I’m just stuck in the ’90′s or maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I’m really having a hard time getting into the slew of electronic based indie rock bands that are currently dominating this genre.  Chvrches has a very layered and textured sound that really is made interesting by the crystal clear vocal stylings of Lauren Mayberry.  As a live act they use their lighting and stage set up to make a very visually stimulating show for the crowd to enjoy.  I can not say anything negative about this band specifically, but I’m just not into the new style of indie rock that this band and others like them are currently releasing.  Not saying it’s bad, it’s just not my bag.

Tribute To St. Louis Trumpeters at Touhill Performing Arts Center – May 30th, 2014

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I hope everyone out there had a fun and relaxing weekend, mine was chopped full of events and family engagements.  To kick things off, this past Friday I photographed a great jazz show at Touhill that was billed as a Tribute to St. Louis Trumpeters.  It was presented by the Jazz Edge Band and featured other big name talents such as Russell Gun, Keyon Harrold, Danny Mixon, and Denise Thimes.  Jazz is an interesting type of music with an artistic flare that no other genre has.  It’s amazing to observe a larger than normal band of musicians playing an array of different wind instruments and noticing how all of them blend together to produce a sound that moves through a concert hall like it is it’s own being.   Vocalist Denise Thimes offered a rare treat for the crowd as Keyon Harrold and Russell Gun performed classics originally arranged by famous trumpeters spanning across the vast history of jazz music.  If you didn’t already know St. Louis is just as known for the role they have played in history of jazz music as they are known for Anheuser Busch.  Our city has always and continues to honor the mark it has made in this genre of music and I highly suggest seeking out any upcoming jazz events in town to experience an elegant evening listening to fine music.  If you are a fan or just want to check something new out, get yourself an HD Radio and tune into Hip 96.3 HD3.  Like them on Facebook at this URL to stay up to date on upcoming jazz shows, as well as to receive the latest information on what’s new in the world of HD Radio: https://www.facebook.com/Hip963.

 

Sevendust Acoustic Tour at Pops – May 27th, 2014

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Earlier this week I had a chance to photograph at Pops, which hasn’t happened in a long time.  Tuesday night the illustrious Sauget establishment hosted the Sevendust “Acoustic” tour.  The reason I put “acoustic” in parenthesizes is because I didn’t find it to be a true acoustic performance by the band.  Both guitarists had a daisy chain of about 5 – 10 petals that they ran their electric/acoustics through, the drummer had a full kit, and the bass player played a regular electric bass.  The sound was loud, in fact I believe just as loud as the previous time they played Pop’s with a full electric set up.  Although, I can’t knock them because they are still Sevendust and front man Lajon Witherspoon never disappoints a crowd.  In fact the best thing I observed all night was the devout fan base that still loves them just as much as the first time they did when they heard their hit single “Black” on the radio back way back in 1997.  That is when I jumped on the band wagon and I have to say had I been following their career more closely over the years that I may have enjoyed the show more than what I did.  Bare bones, quiet, and sprinkled with rarities/covers is what I was expecting, I guess I just expected a different experience from a tour that is being billed as an acoustic tour.  In all I had a good time, I respect these guys for their musical talent, and I will always have mad respect for Lajon.  If you are a die hard fan I suggest catching this tour, if you are a casual listener I suggest waiting until you can see the band in full force with a full electric set up.

All Wright Housewalk – Oak Park, Il. – May 17th, 2014

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Last weekend I had a great get away with my wife and preferable road dog for life, Melissa.  We traveled to a place we often go, Geneva, Il., and we spent last Saturday taking the All Wright Housewalk tour in Oak Park.  Geneva serves as a comfortable, affordable, and entertaining stopping point as you travel into Chicago.  With the convenience of taking the Metra into the city, you can also visit many other similar suburbs like Oak Park.

Oak Park is an area with a highly concentrated amount of Frank Lloyd Wright designed architecture.  On this visit to Oak Park we took a tour called the All Wright Tour, which was in celebration of the 125th Anniversary of his own home and studio that was built in 1889.  To commemorate the milestone this years tour featured eight homes, four of which were private residences originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that are generally not available to be toured by the public.  Below is a list to go along with some pics I snapped during the tour:

Rollin Furbeck House: This was the first home we toured and it was awesome, as well as unique, because it was the first design that Wright started experimenting with vertical elements.  This can be seen by the use of tall columns and octagon shaped points ascending upward perfectly framing out the larger than normal picture window.   This home dates back to 1897 and was a wedding present from Warren Furbeck, a successful stock broker, to his son Rollin Judson Furbeck.

Nathan G Moore House: This home was in fact not officially on the tour and appeared to be undergoing some maintenance in the interior of the home.  Not only does the design of this home stand out from others in Oak Park, it also has an interesting story as most of his homes often do.  This home was originally completed in 1895 in the Tudor Revival style per the request of Mr. Moore but Wright disliked the design because he felt is conformed too closely to the historical styles of other houses in the neighborhood.  Ironically enough Wright got to remedy this in 1922 when he was commissioned to redesign the home for a rebuild due to fire damage.

Hills – DeCaro House: This home was originally built in 1883 in a Prairie Style design by architect Charles C. Miller, then it was bought in 1900 by Nathan Moore and moved to it’s present location just feet away from the Moore House.  Moore commissioned Wright to redesign the home as a wedding present for his eldest daughter Mary.  This home stayed in the Moore family until 1965, then in 1975 the DeCaro family purchased the home to start an extensive restoration project to return the home to it’s original spender.  Sadly restoration came to a halt in 1976 after a fire destroyed much of the upper level of the home.  The fascinating part of this tragic story is that somehow in the burning inferno much of the built in furnishings survived the fire.  One of the pieces is a hutch that was built into the wall in the dinning room and on top of that hutch laid the original blue prints for the home, which also remained unharmed by the fire.  After the clean up processes was done the dedicated DeCaro’s forged on to restore it to the original condition following the guidelines of the original Wright blueprints.

Peter A Beachy House: This home was a redesign that Beachy commissioned Wright to do in 1906.  The present home is completely different from the original structure which was a “Gothic” cottage style home, Wright adapted this after a trip to Japan and you can very much see Japanese design elements in the exterior layout of the home.

Arthur Heurtly House:  This just happened to be the the cream of the crop for me.  It was by far the biggest and most artistically beautiful home we saw that day.  We did not want to leave this house!  Designed in 1902, it is considered to be one of the earliest examples of the Prairie Style homes that Wright went on to be best know for.  It was purchased by Wrights sister in 1920, and in 1930 her and her husband converted it into a duplex with apartments.  Wright’s sisters family lived in the home for 26 years and after that it went through many changes switching hands between a couple different owners.  Between 1997 – 2002 the current owners spent 1.2 million dollars to completely restore the building.

I highly suggest touring one of Wrights homes in your lifetime, it’s like touring a home that is a true work of art built to evoke a sense of self reflection.  This man never ceases to amaze me!

Manchester Orchestra at The Pageant – May 11th, 2014

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This past Sunday I had my mind rocked by Manchester Orchestra!  I had seen them once before in concert, as an opening for Blink-182, but it was a short set and the crowd consisted of tweens who loved Blink.  To be honest I wasn’t prepared to enjoy myself as much as I did and this tours entire lineup really held their own.

Opening the show was another favorite of mine, Mr. Kevin Devine.  I had photographed him once before at the Firebird opening for Say Anything and fell in love with his record Between The Concrete & Clouds.  I was interested to see how he would do on a big stage being that the last time he was here he played a smaller club in town, and he totally nailed it!  I really do think this guy deserves to play to much bigger crowds, with a drummer and bass player flinging their rock star hair about and Kevin jumping in the air through instrumental breaks in their songs I would be shocked if someone wasn’t entertained through their set.  The act following Kevin, who was Balance and Composure, sounded great but in my opinion didn’t quite hit the same bench mark as a live act compared to Kevin.  Balance and Composure were described to me as “an Indie Revival group”, meaning they are a band bringing back an Indie style of music that is very similar to the music some 90′s acts were releasing during the early stages of this genre.  I thought that was funny and I realized the reason I enjoyed their music so much is because it is very remnant of Indie Rock pioneers Hum.  I probably would have enjoyed them more had I not been so excited for Manchester Orchestra to take stage, and as the lights went down and the first few notes of the track “Shake It Out” started I knew it was on!

From the time Manchester Orchestra took stage it was just awesome!  Opening with a track off of their second record and continuously mixing it up in the set with old and new album cuts, it was like listening to the best Manchester mix disc performed live.  The setlist also included songs such as “Tony The Tiger”, “Pensacola”, “Pride”, “Oceans”, “Top Notch”, “Deer”,and “Cope” as well as a string of tunes that kept the crowd cheering and crowd surfing through their entire show.  It was also interesting to hear vocalist Andy Hull address the crowd, with his dry tone it was a stark contrast to the eccentric vocal stylings he puts into all their songs.  Seeing them live reiterated to me just how stellar their catalog is and how many of their songs I know and love.  I was not happy to hear the band play ever song they chose to do in the setlist and personally that is hard for me to say about a rock show.

Enjoy the pics, buy the new Manchester Orchestra album Cope, and see this band live dammit!