Alter Bridge at The Pageant – October 16th, 2014

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This show was interesting because I had no idea that this band did so well for the remaining members of Creed.  I met people in the front row with lyrics tattooed on them and they had the balcony pretty full, which doesn’t happen for all acts that come into the venue.  They were playing for the camera like rock stars and having just an awesome time on stage.  It was a great example of how no one every stops to realize how much being in a band is like being in a relationship, it only takes one thing to throw the vibe off.  Changing things up in a band’s lineup can be the best or worst thing a musician that already has established a career can choose to do.  In this case, Mark Tremonti and Scott Phillips made a great choice in starting this faction back in 2004.  Not to mention the show also included opening act California Breed that featured Glenn Hughes, who is most known for having a short stint as the frontman in Black Sabbath for a brief time period in the ’80’s.  He was freaking awesome to photograph and totally is a showman in front of a crowd.

Enjoy the pics and raise your fists!!!  I just made that up and I can’t tell if I should never say it again or if I should print it on a t-shirt.

Pearl Jam in Memphis, TN at the FedEx Forum – October 14th, 2014

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So this was yet another milestone for me as a concert photographer.  This was the third time I have had the opportunity to photograph Pearl Jam, my favorite band on the planet, and it was also the last show I shot as an employee at Emmis Communications (KSHE95, KHITS96, 1057 The Point, and FM News Talk 97.1).  Ooh it was also within walking distance of one of my favorite streets in the country, of course I’m referring to Beale Street!  Below are what I remembered the most about my experience.

  • I attended the show with an on-air personality from KHITS 96 (www.k-hits.com), Mr. Rick Sanborn, who is a die hard fan just like me.  We stayed two blocks from the venue and walked everywhere, this is a benefit that is hard to come by and do affordably in most cities.  Thank you Memphis for being the city you are, it is a perfect destination to road trip to and catch a show if you live in the Midwest or Southern states.
  • The lines were massive taking an hour to get my tickets, and I didn’t even try to get any merch at this show because that line was taking at least two hours to work through.  I’m not complaining, it actually made me proud as a fan that “my band” was still causing such a fuss after being in the business for 23 years!
  • Ed let the crowd know he was coming down with something he caught after ACL but god bless the man, he still ripped through a full set that lasted at least 2 1/2 hours!
  • The band really seems to be enjoying playing together, not that they don’t generally exhibited that, but you see a lot of nods and smiles when either of them rip into solos which is really awesome to experience as a fan.
  • I wished the whole time the party could have been a blog party on Beale, someone should make that happen for PJ.  Sounds like a great idea to celebrate 25 Years, I’m just saying!

The War on Drugs and Peter Bauer at The Ready Room – October 12th, 2014

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This show was interesting because it was another situation where I came in feeling like I was jumping on the band wagon way too late.  Below are some of my observations from the show.

  • The Ready Room is climbing high up on my list of favorite venues in town to catch indie acts.  It’s new, it’s in an up and coming neighborhood of the city, it’s literally right next to a record shop, and the vibe of the room is just awesome.  The lighting is also always fantastic, which is a plus in my line of work!
  • Peter Bauer of The Walkmen opened the show and he has a solo project that is fabulous, apparently everyone in the room knew that besides me.  It was great to see an opener get such a positive reaction from the crowd.
  • I seriously was embarrassed talking about The War on Drugs with a fellow photog named Abby who was covering the show for KDHX.  She seemed completely appalled that I had only heard a handful of songs from this band, you could tell these guys were her indie band.  I totally need to set aside time before shows to get familiar with the catalog of the band I’m shooting.
  • If you see a show at The Ready Room don’t show up late, it is an intimate venue and fills up fast.  Needless to say I didn’t fight for my spot upfront for very long before I moved to the back and put the camera away.

George Thorogood and the Destroyers: 40 Years Strong Tour at The Pageant – October 8th, 2014

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There is something going on in the time period we are in now where many iconic artists are having milestone years.  The Used boasted celebrating 15 years, Robin Trower was celebrating 40 Years since the release of Bridge of Sighs, Pearl Jam celebrated 20 Years in 2011, The Stones celebrated 50 Years on their last tour, and The Who will do the same by celebrating their 50th Year Anniversary when they hit our city this coming May.  This tour happened to mark the 40th Anniversary for Mr. Thorogood and you would have thought this was his first year in the biz with the enthusiasm he gave the audience at The Pageant a couple weeks ago.  I will not be breaking this down into things that I remember the most about this show becasue the entire experience was amazing.  From the excitement in the crowd, to the active live performance George put on, and not to mention the catalog of hits that any rock fan should know that dominated his setlist was awesome to experience as a newbie to seeing Thorogood live.  It really made me see how much things have changed in the world and in the music industry in the last 40 Years, and it was comforting to know that good old rock n roll will never die.  We are American and music like George Thorogood, and countless other acts, have been recording records for the last 40 years.  They have contributed beautifully to the historical pieces of rock music that have played along side us as we grew up in this country.  I will always want to be “Bad to the Bone” and I’ll always go for “one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer” when I want to party like a true rock star.  Thanks George for being the true rock star that you are!

J Roddy Walston with Fly Golden Eagle at Plush – October 7th, 2014

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This evening brought me back to a place that will forever have a fond spot in my heart.  Plush is not only a great concert venue, with a ridiculously awesome tap selection, and a great menu they are also the club where I cut my teeth learning how to properly shoot concerts.  For anyone out there looking for a start, hit up the club scene.  You’ll learn lighting, how to shoot in crowds, and on a good night you walk away with some of the best shots you’ll ever add to your portofolio.  Below are some of the things that made the J Roddy show so awesome.

  • Fly Golden Eagle was such a great opener.  As they were playing I swore I had heard or seen them before, in which I had when they opened for Arctic Monkey’s at the Pageant earlier this year.  If you like that whole indie, 70’s fuzz, garage rock, and hipster scene you are missing out on something if you haven’t checked this band out.
  • The audience that evening was also surprising.  It was a lot of younger folks that were all very fanatical about J Roddy.  At first I was expecting to have a medium capacity filled room, with plenty of space to weed through the crowd.  That was in fact not the case, I actually had to get out of the front section after the first three songs because I could tell that I was killing the vibe for some of the people I was shooting around.  They were in front for their band damnit, and I can completely relate to having that kind of emotion at a show!
  • J Roddy was such an amazing frontman, with flinging hair and an intensity in the delivery of every lyric he sang it was no surprise why this band is gathering such a huge following.  I wish them luck!  I’ll be keeping an eye on this act and I’m excited to see what they do next in their career.

The Used and Taking Back Sunday at The Pageant – October 6th, 2014

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The Used and Taking Back Sunday was a great lineup and actually marks the second time I’ve photographed this band on the same day.  On Warped Tour 2012 both bands played the STL date and they are both stellar live acts to catch.  Below is what I dug about the show.

  • Taking Back Sunday causes such a frenzy and I can totally see why.  No matter what, all their songs have this open hook that makes you want to shout out right along with them.  The crowd was freaking out and it was awesome to see!
  • Both bands gave us the entire set to shoot and I got to observe Adam Lazzara enjoying being a frontman.  I had a lot of fun following him around from each side of the stage as he sang with the crowd and engaged with them to participate in the performance.
  • The Used let us know early on in the set that this show happened to be the last one of the tour and they were filming it for some kind of DVD.  The lighting was like Jesus and if I meet the lighting guy from this tour the least I can do is get him a high priced sandwich and a beer.  My job was so much more enjoyable that evening, thank you random lighting guy…wherever you are.  God Bless!
  • Bert McCracken from The Used is just a dying breed in the music biz, he is a crazy front man that is vulgar and in your face the entire set.  It’s called being a rock star, some new bands out there should take lessons.

Robin Trower at The Pageant – October 4th, 2014

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Robin Trower I had been looking forward to for some time.  With growing up on classic rock and KSHE Klassics, Trower was a guitar legend I had always heard people rave about.  Below is what I took away from this show.

  • So it was awesome to feel the tone of Trowers guitar rumble through my chest as I photographed.  I was enchanted by how great it sounded, it was similar to how blown away I was with Jeff Beck when I photographed him this past summer.
  • I really only have one Trower record, Caravan to Midnight, and it’s on vinyl.  Not being very familiar with the extensive amount in his catalog, it was great to hear more of his material for the first time in a live setting.
  • I was proud to see the balcony open at The Pageant and it was great to see the devout following Robin still has in our city, people in the age group of 45-55 filled the crowd completely giddy to hear this man shred!
  • It was also the 40th Anniversary of Trowers iconic second album, Bridges of Sighs, in which many cuts were played that evening and you could tell it pleased the crowd immensely as they shouted in excitement.
  • Wrath of Khan opened the show and completely rock it out as well, they were the perfect opener for this show!

Pearl Jam at Scottrade Center – October 3rd, 2014

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This was a huge deal for me, if you have followed me at all it is no secret that I love this band.  This show in particular marked the 25th time I’ve seen the band live, the second time I have been able to photograph them, and I gave my two weeks at my now old place of employment.  Needless to say there was a lot that I had to be excited about this evening and for those of you that attended, the below highlights were amazing to share with you!

  • This was the first show I had been to where there was a line for merch outside the venue at 1pm that actually stretched almost 1/2 way around the building, and it was that long for at least the next four hours that day.  In fact they even brought beer vendors out to accommodate the fans in line.
  • Most often us photographers get walked into the photo pit anywhere between 1-2 minutes before the band takes stage, so you pretty much just hit the ground running.  This was not the case this evening.  Pearl Jam was supposed to start at 8pm and it took me until 8:10 until I figured out what was going on.  The insanely packed venue was merely being treated to the Cardinals game on the Jumbotron and the other big screens around the hockey arena.  The band left the game on for about 30 minutes until the Cards got the lead.  This was a first time I had ever experienced this at a concert and it was so fitting for a St. Louis crowd.
  • The energy of the set started off slow but gained steam at a rate that left the crowd at times completely immersed in the memories of when they first heard some of Pearl Jam’s more known hits, in fact I would have lost my mind if this had been the first time I ever saw the band live.  They played a lot of hits and also delivered a 3 hour long set.  Who else other than Springsteen does shit like that, it’s AWESOME!
  • Ed stopped many times in the set to recognize fan club members who had wrote the band expressing thanks for making music that has helped them through very tragic times.  He was compassionate, appreciative, and very humble many times during the set.  He even dedicated a couple songs to specific fans, it’s why we all love him so much!
  • The buzz approaching the venue and the excitement of the crowd when the band took stage was stronger than any of the 5 times I had seen them in this city between ’98 – ’10.  So much so that Vedder commented on size of the crowd by stating, “You know as I look out tonight at the crowd I’m reminded of something I hear from my wife when I come home from being on the road for a while…It looks bigger than I remembered”.

Thank you Pearl Jam for one hell of a rock show!

Matisyahu at The Pageant – October 1st, 2014

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So October has been so jammed packed busy that I’m going to update this site “highlight style” like I did for a lot of my September shows.  October started off with a reggae/rap pioneer that, to be honest, I had no idea was still out there plugging away.  Much time has passed since Matisyahu first hit the scene, below are some things I remember thinking while I was at the show.

  1. As this show approached I remember seeing a concert poster and thinking, “Who the hell is that guy?”.  Apparently some years ago Mr. Man disbanded from adhering to the strict believes of the hasidic Jewish teachings he was associated with when he started his career.  So, homeboy has lost the beard, locks, and rabbi inspired wardrobe…he just looks like a normal chilled out dude.
  2. Matisyahu’s tunes lend themselves to having a very non-specific crowd, as you observed the audience you couldn’t really place your finger on who would be the poster child for the “typical” fan of this artist.
  3. This style of music grooves and left me with wanting to add some to my iTunes library, the room was filled with a cloud of relaxation that completely gelled with the set.
  4. Getting to shoot the whole set gave me a chance to photograph the stage a little wider than normal, it was fun to catch him engaging with the crowd and dancing to his tunes.

Rise Against at The Pageant – September 23rd, 2014

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I’ve photographed this band once before and they always rock that shit out!  Below is a brief run down of the night.

  1. You’d think this Chicago based band was local from the amount of fans they have in St. Louis.  The crowd was nuts and screamed along all the lyrics to every song!
  2. Thank you as well to Rise Against for letting us photogs have the entire show because you really need to capture the crowd in a few shots with the band to tell the true story of a Rise Against show.
  3. Many of my images came out soft and it was due to a rookie mistake.  ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FOCUS POINTS.  I generally set mine to a single center focus point but at some time in the evening I mistakingly moved my toggle wheel to the far left and didn’t realize it in the frenzy, in the low lit conditions of a show.  I will never forget to ever check this again.
  4. Guitarist Zach Blair is one springy dude and I’ll be damned if I didn’t miss capturing the jump shot every time he went airborne, he is so much fun to watch enjoy what he is doing on stage.
  5. Vocalist Tim Mcilrath has about one of the most expressive faces in rock music, he brings so much intensity on stage and does such an awesome job as a front man.