Monday, April 23, 2012

Hotel Lights at Spike Hill, Brooklyn, NY 04.20.12

I can't get enough of small shows. Where else do you get the chance to see a band you love without having to elbow your way to the front? One of my favorite blogs, The Suburanites Guide to Somewhere, wrote a great article last week titled: Isn't Tupac Dead? Hank talks about the importance of getting out and seeing a live show. The point driven home is best said here: "But we should be stopping short of shelling out money to see a "virtual" performance.  Isn't the purpose of live music about the visceral connection between artist and performer?  An opportunity to see the flaws and imperfections of a human performance.  The bond and trust that comes with the shared vision of the artist on stage.  They may make a mistake.  They may make eye contact with you.   Maybe the guitarist will throw a guitar pick your way.  What if you want to throw your bra?  Is a virtual Tupac gonna catch it??  Hells no.   He ain't connecting with you." I think the Hotel Lights concert in Williamsburg really gave the attendees a chance to enjoy what Hank is talking about and what we all love about a live concert.

I felt incredibly fortunate to have another chance to shoot this band. Last year, I had two major issues. My camera shutter was literally dying as I tried to take pictures. I'd get one, maybe two shots before it errored out, had to remove the batteries and turn it back on. Half the time, the pictures I had taken were lost. My other mistake was that I'd only brought along long lenses. I didn't know the venue or what to expect and I used to think zoom was better, so I didn't have any full band shots. As you can see, I quickly remedied this.

Before I get into the concert review, can I just say how much I love Williamsburg? Seriously, if you have an opportunity to go there for a show, don't hesitate. Every restaurant and bar I've been to is amazing. I took my friends to Cadaques of course because I'd been dreaming about the roasted beet with goat cheese and truffle oil since the Eels concert last July. Best thing you will ever eat.

My first impression of Spike Hill was YES! I can work with that light! It wasn't anything great, but it was better than The Rock Shop last year. I've also made the switch to shooting with mostly prime lenses. It's less weight on my still recovering wrist injury and it just leads to so much more crisp images. (The wrist actually felt very strong and didn't flare up at all after shooting. Huzzah!)

Now on to the pictures.

 Drummer Miguel, didn't catch a last name. I missed Zeke!

Darren switched between keyboards, acoustic and electric throughout the night.

Bassist Jay Brown and guitarist Alan Weatherhead

Charlie Kleever and Darren Jessee

 The Kleeves had his own little fan club, who were more than happy to cheer him on.

Darren busted out a little drum solo on the face of his acoustic during Headboards and Aspirin

Although there wasn't much talking during the show, I caught this moment of banter between the band members.

I chose this shot as my photo of the week because I loved the wear and tear of Darren's guitar.

A couple more band shots. It's still very hard for me to switch over to wide angle, but I'm working on it. It really does give you a different perspective. 

The band really hit their groove in the last couple of songs off their debut album. I have always enjoyed the progression of Marvelous Truth. When Darren first started playing it live, it was a much slower, acoustic song and it has evolved into a real rocker.

The last song of the night was Anatole, which was highly appropriate considering the date of the concert. Well played, sirs, well played.

Saved the best for last. The entire band seemed much more coherent this time around and Darren really exuded a lot more passion and intensity. I take back my comment from last year where I said he was a quiet and contemplative live act. Don't get me wrong, there were subtle moments during the show, but this trio of pictures shows just how much he was rocking.

My only complaint, and this had nothing to do with Hotel Lights, was that Spike Hill had another band lined up after them. It meant that it was a short set with no encore because the next band wanted to play before Karaoke started up at midnight. As far as I knew, Hotel Lights was the headliner of the night. I just thought it wasn't cool to boot the headliner for a band that I didn't even catch the name of to play a half hour set.

Set List:
• Super 8mm
• Girl Graffiti
• Dave Sharkey to the Dance Floor
• My Own Cloud
• Small Town Shit
• Headboards & Aspirin
• Chemical Clouds
• Blue Always Finds Me*
• Falling Down
• Marvelous Truth
• Anatole

*There was a short intro to Blue Always Finds Me that I didn't recognize. Possibly a cover or new material?
P.S. The song was a cover: Rex's Blues by Townes Van Zandt

And I'm closing out with my shoe shot of the night.

Hotel Lights put on a great show; they've really come together as a live act. Although their tour
only has a few more dates, you should make the effort to see them.

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