Somewhere along the way I put aside my point-and-click camera and got serious about concert photography. The first event where I used a DSLR was the 2009 Mile High Music Festival because their photo policy prohibited any other kind of camera in the pits. From there on out I fell in love with the art of photography and tried to capture the experiences I had through photos. Looking back on the last couple of years, here are my favorite 10 shots.
The Fray – MHMF 2009: As someone who had very little experience with a more-professional camera, I was surprised at some of the great shots I got that hot weekend in July of 2009. The Fray closed out my experience at Mile High with a real spectacle: U2′s old stage rig, a big crowd, and a sense of completion.
Monotonix – Monolith 2009: While not a particularly great shot, I will always remember this set from the now-defunct Monolith Festival. It’s the kind of picture that would offend most anyone, therefore it has a certain charm and power that your average concert photo can’t achieve.
Paean – Hodi’s Half Note, December 27, 2009: Being from Fort Collins I found myself up there for the holidays without much to do. When I saw that Danielle Ate The Sandwich was playing a show with a few Act So Big Forest bands at Hodi’s (formerly The Starlight, as I knew it), I said, “Why not?” As it turns out Hodi’s has one of the best light rigs in Northern Colorado. This shot matches great lighting, ambient fog, and perspective in a way that I have seldom replicated.
The Knew – Pulperia release party at the Bluebird, March 6, 2010: At a time when people were just starting to figure out what Something Like Sound was, The Knew were preparing to get big. I ended up seeing the Knew 3 times at the Bluebird (and once at Hi-Dive), and they remain as one of my favorite Colorado acts. I recall seeing this particular shot floating around on their websites for quite some time.
Fellow Citizens – Skylark , October 8, 2010: I saw Fellow Citizens and Old Radio (now Amazing Twin) play two shows at the Skylark within one year. This photo of Fellow Citizens singer Eliza Boote was originally done in color and not cropped, however I edited it for print in the Oredigger newspaper. After looking at the two versions I decided that I liked the black-and-white more- it has a certain aesthetic that is reflective of that time and place.
Andrew W.K. – Warped Tour 2010 (Chicago): I had been to several years of Warped Tours before I decided to live in Chicago last summer, however none of that could prepare me for Andrew W.K. Perhaps one of the most energetic and bizzare performances I’ve ever seen, W.K. thrashed about the stage while putting himself into the most intriguing positions.
Safe Boating Is No Accident – Denver Does Denver 2010: The first show I saw after coming back from Chicago was Denver Does Denver (a fitting return, if I can say so myself). Safe Boating did a set of Pee Pee covers in the Flobots.org community space and something about the lighting in that room lent itself to some really dramatic shots.
Night of Joy – Denver Does Denver 2010: Sometime great photos are purely dumb luck. Another shot for DDD2010, I managed to catch the flash from a camera across the room at the often low-lit Meadowlark. The result: A photo that captures the face-melting nature of a Night of Joy set.
Sufjan Stevens – The Paramount, November 2, 2010: I bought my tickets for Sufjan nearly 4 months before he came to Denver. Fortunately I snagged some primo seats and was able to snap a few shots with my point-and-click. This photo was taken during a reworked rendition of “Seven Swans” which literally took my breath away.
FLASHLIGHTS – Split Cassette release at Larimer Lounge, February 23, 2011: FLASHLIGHTS usually like to party with the house lights down and their special Rande Kamolz-controlled rig in full operation. This, however, makes getting a decent shot of the group a challenge. I decided to experiment with long shutter speeds and zooming out while taking this photo.
I usually get about 1 or 2 music submissions every week. Given my lack of free time I haven’t had a chance to do detailed reviews on every record that passes my ears. In an attempt to “catch up” on reviews, here’s another multi-album music feature.
Woodsman – Rare Forms: A layered, expansive, experimental record with enough structure to avoid self-aggrandizing guitar noodling. As the 5th release from Woodsman in 2 years, it reflects the group’s progress thus far and builds anticipation for the next record. Top track: Serfer
A. Tom Collins – OH NO!: Dirty jazz meets piano meets a whiskey-soaked delivery from a former member of the now-defunct band Machine Gun Blues. The record swings from track to track, slowing down on the intro to “Be My Baby,” picking up again on the laughter-driven “Ants.” Top track: Oh No!
FLASHLIGHTS – Hidden Behind Trees EP: A reverb-drenched electro-pop record that blurs the lines between pop and electronic music, Trees marks FLASHLIGHTS first release on LA-based Binary Records (out June 6th). The 6 tracks mastered by Tjutjuna’s Brian Marcus, mix Sam Martin’s retro synth sounds with Ethan Converse’s aural vocals. Top track: Holidays
Thrifty Astronaut – Caffeine Heartache: If Bob Dylan and Neutral Milk Hotel had a baby it would be Thrifty Astronaut. Distorted acoustic guitar, bright toy-keyboard tones, and lyrics about girls (who have lip rings and like boys who huff glue), and middleclass suburban drudgery mix into a sometimes delightful, sometimes heart wrenching experience. Top track: Middleclass Suburban Teenager Blues
Fingers of the Sun – Fingers of the Sun: If the 1960′s had never ended, there might be more bands that sound like Fingers of the Sun. Expanding from their debut EP, the self-titled Fingers of the Sun LP features sunny instruments and lyrics that would fit well in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of years gone by. Top track: Cup of Tea
Every year for the last 3 years I have been invited to act as a nominating committee member for the Westword Music Showcase. Every year I publish my picks for the sake of total transparency and because I think these bands deserve some recognition (even if they didn’t make the final ballot cut). The rules for nomination were simple: name 20 local bands which have had an impact on me in the past year (with the stipulation that none can have business ties to me, because that would be a conflict of interest). I have taken things a step further and decided to not re-nominate any act which I nominated in a past year. So here they are, in no particular order:
Night of Joy
Oak Creek Band
Fingers of the Sun
Panal SA De CV
I would have also nominated the following, but can’t since they’re all affiliated with my record label (don’t let that stop you from checking them out).
South By South-West (SXSW) was two weeks ago, and I have only now found time to write down some of my thoughts. Life has been busy, but this post is better late than never. Without further ado: The Best and Worst of SXSW 2011
Showcase: Impose Magazine (3/18 at the Long Branch Inn)
Baths and his impressive digital skills
The heart of SXSW is discovery. I stumbled upon this showcase after a day of hanging out with FLASHLIGHTS and the crew from Speaker Snacks and I stayed after they left for the evening. Impose‘s lineup was the kind which could be a festival all its own- featuring GOBBLE GOBBLE, Braids, Baths, Weekend, Cloud Nothings, and No Joy. An eclectic mix of dance, electronic, punk, and lo-fi kept me intrigued and waiting for the next act. See more photos here.
Sets: The Strokes (3/17 at Auditorium Shores) & Memoryhouse (3/17 at Swan Dive)
The packed crowd at The Strokes
There were so many great sets during the week that I couldn’t choose just one to feature. The Strokes, those mainstream, larger-than-life rock stars showed their gusto by headlining the Auditorium Shores stage (one of the largest at SXSW) and cemented their spot with a full fireworks display during their finale.
Canadian chill-group Memoryhouse bathed in blue light
One group that I made an effort to see was Memoryhouse. After being taken with their recent 7″ a few months ago, I determined that I wanted to see them live. Turns out they’re even better live than on the recordings. Their set at the excellent Brooklyn Vegan showcase allowed me to cool off from the heat of the day and bask in the soothing music.
Place to park: East of I-35
The neighborhoods surrounding the historic French Legation Museum had some prime parking spots. Being east of I-35 ensured that the typical downtown traffic was less and the relative lack of “no parking” signs was encouraging. Furthermore, our car never got towed, ticketed, or broken in to. Last, but not least, from the museum it was only a short walk to get to 6th downtown, or any number of spots on the east side (including the Long Branch Inn, Cheer Up Charlie’s, and the Fader Fort). Only complaint: you had to get there early to snatch a spot
Free booze: New Belgium Fat Tire beer at SpokesBuzz party
Fort Collins’ian Danielle Ate The Sandwich at the beer-lover’s favorite party
Maybe it’s because I grew up in Fort Collins, maybe it’s because they make a damn good beer; in either case the free Fat Tire from New Belgium hit the spot at the SpokesBuzz party. There were also some great Colorado-local acts there (including blog-favorite Danielle Ate The Sandwich). Next year, when I’m living in Austin, I will go to any party that has free Fat Tire.
Free food: Rachael Ray’s party
Rachel Ray’s party had a marked lack of hipsters
Where to start… perhaps the fajitas, or the chili, or the burgers, or any number of other fantastic snacks made food-personality Rachael Ray my favorite person on our last day in Austin. While the music was not quite up to my tastes, the food certainly was. Add free Blue Moon and margaritas to the mix and it was all worth it.
Way to spend your time: Standing in line for Purevolume House & Fader Fort
Toro Y Moi played the Fader Fort… although waiting in line sucked
We got in to Austin on the Monday of SXSW. We spent Tuesday standing in lines. For 5 hours we waited to get wristbands to the “super-exclusive” (read: over-rated) parties thrown by Fader and Purevolume. The worst part: We didn’t even go to any of the mediocre showcases at Purevolume and I only went to Fader once for Toro Y Moi.
Mode of transportation: Walking
So many sore legs
Being on your feet for an entire day is one thing, walking around on the concrete for 6 days is just masochistic. If it weren’t for the logistical nightmare, we would have all been riding bicycles and saving our energy for more important things (read: drinking). I suppose walking wasn’t the absolute worst mode of transport, I saw some pretty dorky looking people riding Segways.
Decision of the week: No sunscreen on the first day
Charlie Sheen called, he wants his look back
That’s me after our week in Austin and 16 hour car ride home. Do I look burnt out? Sure I do! The entire week would have been much more pleasant if I hadn’t gotten sunburned the first day while waiting in endless lines. Be safe kids, wear sunscreen at SXSW. Note to future companies who want my respect/business at SXSW: In addition to giving away free booze, give out some sunscreen too.
Hangover: The day after the Sony party
Technology giant Sony threw a party to show off their fancy TVs and computers, we showed up just because they had one of the best open bars at all of SXSW. Unfortunately it was a little too good and the next day felt terrible. It reminded me that drinking in moderation is important, and having a designated driver is even more important (I didn’t drive home that night).
I suppose it was a week ago that I headed down to the Larimer Lounge for a night of electric post-punk and synth-beat music. It was my first time seeing two up-and-coming local acts- Force Publique and FLASHLIGHTS- as they released their newest split (note: this is a shameless plug). The visuals were stunning as the lights strobed and moved while the dance floor filled with people. MillionYoung took the stage and performed a set that reminded me a bit of STRFKR, but with a more electronic edge and tribal beat.
In late 2009 Something Like Sound released Colorado Sounds, a compilation of music from the Centennial State. Two years later Colorado Sounds Volume 2 is making its debut with an expanded roster and greater diversity of sound. The new release comes just weeks before Denver bands and fans swarm Austin, TX for the annual SXSW conference (where download cards for this free compilation will be liberally distributed). Curator Tim Weilert designed this project with one goal in mind: expose people everywhere to the quality and uniqueness of modern music in Colorado.
- Dan Craig – Enough – from Alchemy
- Gregory Alan Isakov – Evelyn – from This Empty Northern Hemisphere
- John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light– In My Neighborhood – from Beautiful Empty
- The Raven and the Writing Desk – Space Grenade – from RECIDIVIST
- Flashbulb Fires – Revenge Song – from Glory
- The Knew – Yellow Moon – previously unreleased
- Monroe Monroe – Ready The Fall – from Love Wins EP
- American Tomahawk – Sunshine People – from Contradictions, Generalities, and Future Criminals
- Fingers of the Sun – In My Basement – previously unreleased
- Amazing Twin – Naked Girl, Pt. 2 – from New Wives’ Tale
- Makeout Point – Don’t Drown Me, Please – from Don’t Look Up
- Safe Boating Is No Accident – Who Will Marry You? – from Isn’t It Fun?
- Thrifty Astronaut – Middleclass Suburban Teenager Blues – from Caffeine Heartache
- I Am The Dot – We Have Not Arrived – from Bridges EP & A Collection of Songs (2008-2010)
- FLASHLIGHTS – More Sunlight – from FLASHLIGHTS EP
- Fellow Citizens – Cincinnati – from Fellow Citizens
- The Biz – Infinite Light – from The Ancient Future
- PANAL S.A. DE C.V. – You Knew I Was A Snake – from You Knew I Was A Snake Single
- At The Forefront – Till I Find You – previously unreleased
- Tjutjuna – Mosquito Hawk – from Tjutjuna