Monday, March 4, 2013

Eels at the Paradise, Boston 02.27.13

When it comes to my favorite band, I'm willing to travel. I've yet to see an Eels show in my home state of Connecticut, cough cough the cancellation in 2008! Since the guys were only playing one show in New York this tour, I decided to head up to Boston as well. My reasoning for this was mainly to give myself two chances to cover them in an official capacity.  I set a lofty goal this year of photographing the Eels. I definitely tried my hardest to make that happen: I reached out to multiple media outlets, photographers, I even started writing for another blog in my quest to accomplish this goal. Officially, I failed. Since last September, I found a way to photograph every concert I wanted to, all without shooting for a major news source. The streak had to end at some point and I truly believe that I just wasn't meant to cover these shows. What's even more surprising is the fact that I'm ok with it.

Why did I want to cover this so badly? Back in 2011, I rediscovered my passion for photography. Everyone goes through lulls in their life and I had become pretty bitter about my art. I wasn't getting coverage, I wasn't getting paid and I was sick of it. Then I brought my point and shoot to an Eels show and I remembered how exhilarating it all could be. I kept shooting and sending along my work until bands were letting me into shows with my real camera. I'll always remember that concert and always want to cover an Eels show, regardless of what camera I can bring along.

Ok, rant over. On to talking about the show.

It was a dark and stormy night...No really, it was. I stood outside in the rain for a good 40 minutes, waiting to get into The Dise. I knew the lighting in there was on the more difficult side and wanted to get a good spot so I could eek out pictures with the point and shoot. We were treated to the always interesting first act: The Boston Air Guitar Quartet. Four guys bounced around a roped off area in front of the stage, shooting confetti into everyone's drinks. Nicole Atkins came out after and played a solo set. She engaged the crowd between songs, coming across as, and I say this in the best possible way, an endearing geek. References to The Legend of Zelda, Pee Wee Herman and drinking cheap Vodka were aplenty.

The Eels took the stage one at a time with the opening song Bombs Away from their new album Wonderful, Glorious, adding their parts to the song as they entered. With a roar of applause from the crowd, E lept to the lead singer platform. They each wore navy blue Adidas track suits and matching sneakers with various styles of sunglasses.

E playing maraca guitar during Dog Faced Boy

Honest Al and The Chet

The stage set up was one of the most unique I've ever seen. There was a large platform running the length of the back of the stage and two smaller platforms on either side of the front. I was thrilled to see Knuckles and his drum kit on the platform to the left. Although it made for a very loud night, I got excellent pictures of the animated drummer. Guitarists P-Boo and The Chet along with bassist Honest Al took the back riser with E on the front right. E was angled to be able to see Knuckles, placing his back to the majority of the fans on the right side of the stage. Everett spoke to the audience about the set up, jokingly, "Oh, hi, guys! I didn't mean to have my back to ya. I bet you're wondering about the wisdom of setting up the stage that pinpoints to one spot. I'm wondering about the wisdom of it, too, just so you know." He frequently turned and waved to those fans and also made a crack about the merch table looking good and that he wanted to get a shirt with himself on it.

This quickly turned into a Knuckles photo shoot with the drummer in the best light on the stage.

I struggled to get clear shots of The Chet this time around. He was back behind E and my angle was pretty awkward.

Honest Al had some epic light hitting him throughout the night

P-Boo was hidden from my line of sight by the massive drum kit

The Chet playing it up to the crowd during his introduction

The Chet joining E on the lead singer riser to renew their vows for their 10 year anniversary. 
I cracked up when I saw the mischievous smiles on both their faces.

There's always a schtick that runs throughout an Eels show. This tour was heavy on the bromance. The band exchanged hugs between songs and it went even further with E and The Chet. The history of the Eels as a band is that E is the main, creative force and he brings in other people to tour with him. Over the years, his touring band has changed members frequently, but The Chet has stuck around for the past 10 years. Knuckles has to be up there in years, too. They exchanged mock vows with Honest Al taking the role of minister, all the while the rest of the band was playing cheesy 80's music in the background. At the end of it, they hugged, with The Chet's hand straying a bit lower than E was expecting. Knuckles took over lead vocal duties to belt out a heartfelt rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings, with The Chet rushing over to the drum riser to join him on harmonies.

Knuckles pounding away during his solo song the fans are calling "Go Knuckles!"

Knuckles and P-Boo

I think it's safe to say that Knuckles liked the attention

P-Boo, Honest Al and The Chet

The entire band gathered on E's riser for a group hug just before my camera battery crapped out on me

There were multiple encores which threw the audience, myself included, for a loop. E came rushing out during the second and leapt from the back riser to the front. He stumbled on the landing and his momentum carried him to the front of his own riser, but he managed to right himself just before he fell off the stage. An embarrassed smile crossed his face and he laughed, "Almost didn't make it there!" It was definitely the most laid back I've ever seen him. The house lights came up and most of the fans headed towards the exit. I went over to the merch table to pick up the double live CD that's a tour exclusive, when the remaining crowd erupted in applause. The band was back on stage. They tore through Stick Together with the audience clapping along enthusiastically. After that, they jammed on a song where all they shouted was "Go Eels!"

Each member of the band took turns soloing. I noticed that The Chet was having an issue with his guitar, and multiple techs came over to him to try to sort it out. E called out a band member's name to let them know it was their turn, but since his back was to them, he couldn't see that there was an issue. He shouted, "Go Chet!" and there was absolute silence. Even Knuckles backed off the drums when it was his turn. The Chet's hands moved, but no sound came out. E turned to look at his guitarist, who was as sad as a child who just had their candy stolen. E removed his own guitar and handed it to The Chet in order for him to have his turn. The baby blue guitar was passed back to E so he could signal the song to end.

I'm working on my review of the New York show, which will post over on Surviving the Golden Age later this week. On my blog, you'll be treated to a guest post from a friend that I finally had the pleasure of meeting at Webster Hall. We decided to combine our efforts to make the best post possible for the Eels concert. I can't wait to share it with you!

Set List:
• Bombs Away
• Kinda Fuzzy
• Dog Faced Boy
• Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac cover)
• Hombre Lobo
• In My Dreams
• On the Ropes
• Dirty Girl
• Flower
• Peach Blossom
• Trouble with Dreams
• The Turnaround
• New Alphabet
• Fresh Feeling
• Sound of Fear
• Band Intros/Wind Beneath My Wings/Go Knuckles!
• Ichycoo Park (Small Faces cover)
• Souljacker Pt. 1
• Wonderful, Glorious
Encore 1:
• I'm Your Brave Little Soldier
• My Beautiful Monster/E's Beautiful Blues Mashup
Encore 2:
• Fresh Blood
Encore 3:
• Stick Together
• Go Eels!

I know what you're thinking at this point, and I promise I have shoes to show you. I just prefer the shot I took in New York, so I'm going to hold onto it for that post. Instead, take a gander at the Polaroid I shot. I'm not completely there yet with the proper exposure sans flash, but I'm getting closer.

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