I had the pleasure of a sit-down with Chuck Ragan when he passed through San Antonio. I gotta tell you, I cover a lot of bands in some small, divey venues, but this was hands down the smallest – and darkest – venue I’ve ever covered, as he was playing the basement of the club. It was a bit rough, to say the least, but hanging out with Ragan before the show was a chance to really pick the brain of an artist and talk about art and making music and keeping hope alive in a sometimes shitty world. Full interview on Yahoo! Music.
Slideshow from Adler’s Appetite – Steven Adler must be the happiest man I have ever met in my life!
Yes, I am really this far behind, as real life has intruded on updating this site as much as I want, but here is a set from Fangs on Fur when they opened for the fabulous Horrorpops in Denver last October. I was having serious dark 80′s flashbacks, both during the set and while going through these photos. And that, my friends, is a good thing.
Lighting on this one was tough – very low and super saturated color. Of course, that makes it tougher, but more…atmospheric, right? At least that’s how I console myself with tough lighting conditions.
I’m especially fond of this one for some reason – I like the highlight in the glasses, and the flag reflection with the stripes in his jacket. Plus it’s dark and moody compared to some of the super bright shots I get of bands.
The Uproar Fest metal crowd – used to dramatic entrances – almost doesn’t notice when Lzzy Hale quietly walks on stage to start the Halestorm set a cappella. As soon as she steps on stage, it’s hard not to think of Pat Benatar, with her shag cut and physical resemblance.
And when she starts to sing, it’s impossible not to think of Benatar. This lady’s got the pipes.
Halestorm opened the main stage for this years Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Fest, which is a pretty amazing feat, given the band only recorded their first full length album back in 2008. Of course, the road to that first studio record was a bit longer – Lzzy formed the band back in 1998 with her brother, drummer Arejay Hale, when they were in middle school. They paid their dues on their local Pennsylvania circuit, honing their sound and lineup before getting serious about hitting the studios looking for a deal.
Their work paid off – they signed with heavy hitter Atlantic Records and released an EP with them in 2005, and went on the road with Shinedown, Seether, Flyleaf, and Trapt. Their self-titled debut album features the first single, the provocatively titled, “I Get Off.” According to the band’s official website, “On that song,” says Lzzy, “I reach outside of myself and explore sexuality. It also has this crazy metaphor of me getting off on the crowd getting off on me.”
And the crowd most certainly did, proving why this band is rising fast on the charts. Not mention one of the best vocalists on the metal scene today.
* “It’s Not You”
* “What Were You Expecting”
* “Dirty Work”
* “Familiar Taste of Poison”
* “Nothing To Do With Love”
* “I Get Off”
Even before he covers one of The Man in Black’s tunes, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out Mike Ness is a huge Johnny Cash fan. The blue-collar, common-man attitude is apparent in his references to being “Born to Lose” and to the incarcerated and down and out. One could make the argument he is this generation’s Johnny Cash, and like that icon of American music, he may have mellowed in some ways…but he definitely gets better with age.
When Social Distortion took the stage for the first of two shows here in Denver at the Fillmore October 15, Ness didn’t do the whole man-in-black or greaser image one has come to expect from this band who has always played a sort of rockabilly-influenced punk. Most of his tattoos were covered, and the hair on his slightly receding hairline just slicked back. In his crisp white shirt, suspenders, and loose cut pants, he almost looked like a carney from the 30s depression era in his simplicity.
The real punks, the ones who stand the test of time, don’t have to dress the part or show off heavy tattoos – it goes way beyond skin deep for Ness and the rest of Social Distortion. And they proved that once again before a packed house.
If you are any kind of Social Distortion fan, you are bound to have missed one of your favorites from the set Friday night. “Cold Feelings” was absent from the set list, but it was still full of favorites from the bands’ years: “I Was Wrong,” “So Far Away,” “Bye Bye Baby,” “Footprints,” “Story of My Life,” “Through These Eyes,” “Ball and Chain,” “Hour of Darkness,” “Machine Gun Blues,” “King of Fools,” and “Still Alive,” amongst others.
Old punks don’t always fade away…sometimes they keep showing the young ones how it’s done.
Sunday night I caught Strung Out at the Ogden Theater here in Denver, which just happened to be the last show of the tour. I had really wanted to set up some promos, but things being as crazy as they have been here at the ranch, wasn’t able to get it all sorted out (new city, new job, moving studio space, new studio launch.)
I had never shot the Ogden before, and was pleasantly surprised when not only did someone answer the phone there that afternoon before the show, but they actually knew what was going on, as it was their production manager, Mike. Alas, he informed me there would not be a barricade for a photographers’ “pit.”
So I texted the tour manager for side stage approval which he granted, but you know, side stage just doesn’t cut it for me. You are essentially shooting profiles at best, and mostly backs of heads. Sure, it’s nice and safe – especially at your punk shows like this – but you definitely lose something being on the sidelines. Actually, you pretty much miss everything.
So I finally got there, and was surprised to see few people in the front pit area for the band on directly before Strung Out. But oh, is that stage high! They had a nice side stage area and the security guys said I could shoot from there, but I ended up going on the first tier with a permanent rail about 15 feet back from the stage so I could shoot over the heads of the pit.
Which was good, because it was pretty rowdy up front. Maybe it’s always like that, but since I am usually down in front of it with cameras pointed stageward, I don’t see the mess I am usually in. Which is maybe a good thing.
Having said that, I am no stranger to getting in there and getting tossed around, but it really doesn’t make good photos shooting up the bands’ nostrils and getting slammed into the stage. So I primarily shot from the behind the railed tier just above, which meant 70-200mm f2.8. And I’m sorry to say, it was still too damn dark, especially for punk and metal acts that are extra…mobile.
But at least I didn’t get the shit beat out of me for once, although some idiot couple more focused on slobbering on each other than the show managed to knock some half empty cups on my camera bag. Get a damn room already, would ya?
And oh yes…Strung Out kicked some ass. But as long as these guys have been out there touring, you knew that already, right?
The band is Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, Damageplan bassist Bob Zilla, and former Pantera, Rebel Meets Rebel and Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul. They formed in 2001, but as you can imagine, juggling so many bands and schedules put many tour plans on hold till 2006, when the band finally recorded its first, self-titled album, recorded at Chasin’ Jason studio in Dimebag Darrell‘s backyard.
I confess, I have always been an old school metal fan, cutting my teeth on the likes of The Scorpions and Ac/DC, but am still getting up to speed on these new metal bands after being sort of out of the loop for several years. Uproar introduced me to Hellyeah, and this phenomenon called “Cowboy Metal.” And I am digging it…a LOT. This video kicks ass.
I didn’t even realize when I requested to shoot this show that it was supposed to be their last tour. I find it hard to believe these guys will be able to give this up, with the fire they still have in them, and let me tell you, these guys are in damn good shape for their age. Or ANY age.
I often shoot bands I am lukewarm about or worse, but hey, I’m a child of the 80s, and loved my old school metal. This was one of those shows where I got to be a fangirl as well as a photographer, and I am so glad I got to shoot these guys the last time around.
But I’m still hoping it won’t be the last time around. Only time will tell…
And here it is, hands down the best metal ballad EVER: