Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Eels at Williamsburg Music Hall July 29th & 30th, 2011

I'm going to assume that a lot more people are reading this blog than my normal four followers out there. So I want to give you a warm welcome. Hi, I'm Audra! I'm a photographer and graphic designer, lover of good music, New England sarcastic and a horrible speller. I'm a Virgo, I like ducks and long walks on the beach. Ok, now that we've covered me, on to what you're really here for. Eels pictures!

But first, I'd like to ask that you don't go stealing my photos. At least give me some link love. Hit up the blog or check out my website. It takes a lot of time to process all these photos, back them up, water mark them, etc. etc. I just want to share my images with you. So we're cool, right?

For those of you that don't want to read, I totally understand. I'm not usually this wordy on my blog, but this is an experience I wanted to share. Just scroll on down, you'll see. For my regular four followers, I'm only teasing, I know tens of dozens of my friends read this and just don't want to follow my blog officially, I went to a couple of concerts over the weekend. If you don't know me that well, shame on you!, music is my passion, photography is my skill. I have a pretty wide range of musical tastes, but The Eels are definitely my favorite band. No offense to Ben Folds, I do adore you, but I consider you to be an artist, not a band.

And if you're like the majority of my friends, right now you're saying, the who? Eels? And then I go, you know, Novocaine for the Soul, and they go, Ohhhhh yeah! They're still around? Yes, they are, more incredible than ever. But I'm not going to get into that right now. I'm going to tell you about my experience this weekend, starting off with my partner in crime, Vanessa, and newly recruited Eels groupies, Sharon and Joe.

Our journey started off on the right foot: FREE TRAIN! I don't know what happened, but we never saw a conductor, so score one for the ladies! I will always associate amazing food with Eels concerts. Vanessa picks out our restaurant, she has a serious gift, and I do the research on transportation, from the advice of my New York dwelling brother. (Thanks, bro!) Last year, Vanessa found Empanada Mama and this year Cadaques surpassed even her expectations.

 Various tapas at Cadaques

We arrived just in time for happy hour drinks. Our amazing bartender was Kim who hooked all the bar patrons up with a couple free shots followed by some of the most delicious food I've ever had. Roasted beets with goat cheese, spinach sauteed with garlic, pine nuts and golden raisins, steamed muscles with chorrizo, skirt steak with blue cheese and marinated veggies. For those of you wondering did I remain grain free, I bet you are because look at that fresh chiabata sitting right in front of me! I did not cave in. I moved that bread to the other side of the feast. We ended up staying here a bit longer than I planned on because it started to DOWNPOUR. We waited out the half hour or so of rain and then made our way to the venue.

We arrived around 8:30 and got in line. Vanessa made a joke about being stuck in the slow line where people were being let in to the door directly to our left without waiting. I looked over to see who was getting in and why we couldn't and realized, oh hey, that's The Chet! At first, we headed up to the balcony. I had a good time last year and got some decent pictures from that vantage point, so I figured, why not. When we got there, we saw that nobody was down on the floor. Vanessa and I looked at each other and bolted for the front of the stage. We were involved in the magic show, I mean, ILLUSIONS!, that went on before The Submarines took the stage. I didn't pick the right envelope, so I didn't win the hundred dollar bill and the magician somehow drew the same Lochness Monster that Vanessa did at the same time without looking. It was fun being involved and made the time fly by.

Blake Hazard
The Submarines were a wonderful two piece band. I hadn't really heard of them before, so I did a quick search on Grooveshark and liked what I found. Beautiful voice, really sweet personality and who doesn't like a band rocking a Glockenspiel??? They also pointed out that New York rain, "Doesn't fuck around." Guess they got caught up in the downpour...

As we waited for the roadies to do their sound checks and set up the wind tunnel directly in front of us, Vanessa and I did a self portrait. I said to her, do you realize we are standing right in front of E? I still couldn't believe our luck. It was loud. It was intense. It was incredible.

There I am, not only seeing my favorite band, I'm right in front of an amazing artist and I've got my camera. This is what I love shooting the most. This is why I became a photographer. Sure, I love capturing every day stuff. Yeah, I make money with weddings and portraits. But that moment, where an artist is on stage doing their thing and I'm doing mine, it's an exhilaration I can't put into words. So why should I try? I'll let the pictures talk with as few comments as possible.

 E and The Chet


 PBoo and Tiny Al
Trumpet playing guitarists have a special place in my heart

 The Chet
Seriously, the man is so photogenic, it hurts.

Fan watching E
This is one of my personal favorites, so I'll go into a bit of an explanation here. I've never been this close to the band before. It's kinda like sitting in the front row of a movie theater. Sometimes things are going by way too fast for your brain to comprehend and you definitely feel a crink in your neck the next day. I cropped out E on purpose, but there's enough of him to know it's him. The Chet is just being himself and I lucked out with the smile on The Snatch Brothers (brass section in the back). I barely got the fan to the right of me in the shot, just enough. There's some innate need for me to capture what I see and share it with others. This fan on my right was seeing exactly what I was seeing and I wanted to be able to express that. I thought I did a pretty good job.

E with Knuckles in the background
I didn't want to be incredibly obnoxious by taking tons of pictures of E. (And of course all of these are done without flash. Don't be that person. It's annoying for everyone and most likely, your flash isn't going to reach the stage.) I was also having way too much fun bouncing around and singing along. Also, the extreme close proximity made it a little difficult to take pictures of him. I had much better results with The Chet, who was off to the right.

The Chet
Rock god
Nuff said

This is my favorite. Last year, they played around with silhouettes a lot. My favorite shot from 2010  was of PBoo, Knuckles and The Chet silhouetted against the red backdrop on the drum risers. This year I was in the perfect position. His glasses reflected the stage lights. I looked at the shot right after I took it and knew I nailed it.

 The Chet during his introduction, playing a solo and E interrupting
When he went on for too long, E came over and stopped him. There was a lot more banter and light heartedness within the band this year which made the concert even more fun.

Because you've always got to get a good shot of the drummer.

 The Chet, E and a Snatch Brother

 Another E and The Chet shot

 E's shoes
As per Vanessa's request, but I have to say, I really like it. A man's shoes say a lot about him.

 PBoo, Tiny Al and E

 Another E silhouette shot
This is right before the madness happens during Fresh Blood. Think Battling Seizure Robots from the Simpsons...

My other favorite of E and The Chet
Not an easy shot, which is why it's one of my favorites. I kept going until I caught the strobe lights hitting. I can't tell you how many shots I have of just the red screen behind the band...

 Another of E
When else am I going to have a position this great ever again?

E's Hug
A case where being close was no good. He was bouncing all over the stage during Looking Up and I just watched. I still liked this moment, just before E gave himself a hug, pretending that the audience was embracing him or vice versa.

 More rocking moments during the encore of PBoo and The Chet

The Eels
I love that my last shots are of The Eels without E. The Chet takes over and goes to town.

And so ends the first night of The Eels, but not my 2011 Eels concert experience. For whatever reason, they booked two nights in a row at Williamsburg. I had such an amazing time at the concert last year, I knew I had to go to both this year. Some bands produce amazing albums, but are horrible live. Some bands sound the same. Every. Single. Time. You. See. Them. Not The Eels. Their albums rarely sound the same and E changes band members every tour so you will never have the same experience twice.

I was lucky enough to be able to crash with my brother in the Bronx. I get to go to two Eels concerts and hang with my brother and niece all day on Saturday? I couldn't have planned it better! We went to the Botanical Gardens, walked around, caught up, played with Grace. I snapped a few pictures here and there...

Plant Frog and a pond a lovely shade of green! I thought it was pretty close to the color of my facebook profile icon.

 Grace, fighting against sleep because Auntie Audra is way too much fun! And Everett Children's Adverture Garden
Seriously? Too ironic not to take a picture of!

 My partners in crime for the Saturday show: Sharon and Joe

I navigated the subways like a pro at this point. My guests picked out the restaurant Tacu Tacu right on North 6th which was Asian Peruvian fusion cuisine. In one word? Delicious. If you're going to Williamsburg Music Hall and want a place close by with great food, go here.

All right, so I know I'm on the same street as the venue, but I wasn't sure which way we should be walking. I'm doing my "Wait a minute, let me orient myself" thing when my eyes lock on to a set of arm tatoos that I'd recognize anywhere. I motion for my friends to follow me and they ask me how I know. I pointed at the two guys in front of us and said, "We're following the band." 

PBoo and The Chet in front of Williamsburg

Sorry about the quality, I used my cell phone. I didn't have the balls to bust out my camera that close to the venue. Now I've said before that I become an idiot in front of people that I idolize. My friends kept insisting I say something to them as we walked the three or four blocks to the venue. I shook my head, no way in hell. I get nervous, I say something stupid, so I just don't. I didn't want to stop them so close to their destination in case they ended up getting mobbed by fans. Besides, I already had amazing pictures of them from the night before. (Granted, had I been able to process and print any of those pictures I would've found the nerve to ask them to sign it, but that wasn't the case.) Just another cool experience: I followed PBoo and The Chet to their own show!

Night two! I wasn't even going to try to get near the stage. For one thing, I couldn't hear all that well where I was the night before and I wanted to enjoy the brass section. I didn't want to go up to the balconies, so I chose the platform off to the right. I wanted a little bit of space to be able to get full band shots, but not have to deal with being short and not seeing over the crowd.

I have to say, whoever booked the Contortionist and didn't let him go on stage, what were you thinking? The front row of people could see him, maybe the balcony people, but everyone just stood around for a half hour making snide remarks. (Which is fun when you're with the right people.) I spent my time talking to my friends; it was their first Eels show. I have to say kudos to them for trusting my taste in music. I also met another Eels fan, to my left on the platform, who had come all the way from L.A. She wouldn't be in town for their California shows and had plans to be on the east coast when The Eels were playing. We had a great conversation about the band and the show the night before.

Another brilliant performance by The Submarines, then the boys came on. Rocking even harder than the night before, even snarkier, the band looked like they were having a blast and the crowd ate it up. I have to say, I'm really thrilled with these pictures, mostly group shots. Again, enjoy!

Tiny Al and E

 PBoo and Knuckles have some serious hair, by the way

 The Chet conducting
This happened the night before and was hilarious, but I had no angle where I was standing. Really glad I had a second chance.

 Band shot!

 E and The Chet rocking during Knuckles Song
I always love their interactions.

 E's grill
Although I was right in front of him the night before, I really didn't notice the grill. When you're up close, you can't really tell he has it in, but when you're back and he smiles, you can't miss it. I wonder if he made that decision so that everyone could see his smile around all that beard. I couldn't shake the image of an old prospector panning for gold.

 The Eels covering Hot Fun in the Summertime
I was so glad I could get a shot of all of them at their microphones.

 The Chet and E
Not the most sharp picture of the night, but one that made me so happy, I had to include it. 

The Chet and Snatch Brothers.
Again, The Chet, there isn't a bad picture of you.

 Fresh Blood Howl
I took it as a personal challenge to try to take a better picture than the one from the previous night. I don't know, I like them both for different reasons. I love that I got E's blood curdling howl here, but I dig the angle from the night before...

 E addressing the crowd
He was much more talkative than last year and really played it up on Saturday, egging the crowd on to cheer louder.

 Looking Up Howl
Again, not so sharp, there are limits to my camera, but I had to throw this one in because the man is screaming so loud, the vein in his neck looks like it is going to explode. Just. Wow!

 E's Hug
This, I love. I love the crowd's hands in my shot. I love E's smile. I love how different it is from the night before.

E applauding the audience
He was genuinely touched and it really is nice to see the man smile. He gives his fans so much of himself and even though a lot of the people I talk to have never heard of The Eels, the ones that do appreciate you, sir.

So those are my pictures. Well, some of my pictures. A very small portion of my pictures, actually. I'm not sure what I'm going to end up doing with all of them. I downloaded these at around 2 in the morning after I got off the train and did my first round of shot selections maybe an hour later. I've only processed those. There might be more gems that my tired eyes missed. I might put more pictures on my main website later on in the week. I will keep you updated, of course!

I wanted to reflect for a moment. Friday's concert is something I will never forget. Sharing that with Vanessa was perfect. It's funny, I tried to get a press pass for these shows from an editor and we never heard back from the band's management. I said, I'm due for something good, I feel it. When I didn't get a press pass, I thought, ok, no digital SLR, but I've got my Lumix and that camera is a champ with it's manual settings and raw photos. I figured I would snap a few shots like last year, because I can't be happy without a camera in my hands. Honestly, I feel like something is missing and I get all anxious. When we got our spot in front of E, I thought, holy shit, karma has come around. I know that E doesn't like photographers at shows, I hope that if these pictures got around, he wouldn't be all bent out of shape. I respect the work that you do, I think you're great. As an artist, I feel the need to do what I do. And seriously, man, if you are reading this and ever release another live album and you need some shots, give me a call!

The funny thing is, I really like the images from Saturday as well. They caught something I couldn't have from the night before. Heck, I saw things going on on the right side of the stage I completely missed the first show. I like that Saturday's pictures tell a story and give some context to Friday's. I honestly thought about how I was going to put this post together. I didn't want to do it chronologically from Friday to Saturday, but set list wise, combining images from both shows. Time was my only restriction and maybe over the week, I'll put something like that together. I wanted to get this post done, and yeah, it's massive and took me, I'll say it, all day. But I think it was worth the effort.

Please drop me a note in the comments if you like what you see. Or if you think I'm a chump. And check out the rest of my blog if you think I'm interesting and want to know more. While four followers is more than I had a year ago, I would not be opposed to some more...

Wait until you see what I'm working on...

I'm sorting through around 700 photos from the two concerts I went to over the weekend and I can't wait to show you what I've got. And when I lead off with a picture of E's shoes, you know I've got some amazing shots.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Moy Biens Win!

Congratulations to my team captain, Greg, who finally won his first company softball game! The Moy Biens defeated Marty Queen of HANS 22-19.

I had an excellent game in the field at third base, although my hitting wasn't quite up to my standards. I'm not sure what it was, but swinging and running were just not what my knee wanted to do that day. Luckily, I had a strong team behind me to help out with the offense and I did my fair share of defense. I was able to catch all the line drives fired at me by both owners of the company, one with a diving back hand.

After the game, I did some quick icing to reduce the swelling in my knee and I recovered in half a day. (Last year my knee ballooned and I had to elevate and ice it the entire weekend.) It felt really good to not think about moving laterally, squatting to make plays or transferring all my weight to my surgical leg when I threw. And on top of it, my throwing arm feels amazing. That used to be super cranky after a game, so I guess all those presses, overhead carries and Turkish get ups are doing something. Thanks, Trainer Steve!

Friday, July 15, 2011


There will be an epic battle later today. It's the annual company softball game, and our team captains have never won. By the end of the day, we'll have a winner and an ultimate loser. Let's go, ¡Moy Biens!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sarah & Jeff Wedding Tease

I'm close to finishing up my edits on Sarah and Jeff's incredible wedding and thought it was time to share a picture from it. More pictures are coming, but I'm starting with one of my favorites. I think it captures their playfulness, which made for a fantastic shoot.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grace's First Stink Eye!

One of my many gifts is the ability to get a great stink eye shot of babies. I'm proud to share Grace's first!


A quick firework picture just to let you all know, I'm still here. It's been quiet on the blog front, but that means there will be lots of posts coming!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ben Folds Five, a Retrospective

I woke up this morning and saw that Ben Folds had posted this picture. I'll post more details when I hear, but I'm definitely excited for Ben Folds Five to be working together again!!!