Sunday, April 28, 2013

Potty Mouth, Math the Band & Andrew WK at Arch Street Tavern 04.19.13

Andrew WK fans at the end of the night

I am a firm believer that you should challenge yourself. In my case, I will occasionally photograph something that I am not a fan of. It's easy to get good images of something you love because you're invested in it. As a photographer, I know that I'll be assigned something that I'm not familiar with and it's my job to make that look interesting. I feel that moments of growth come as a result of these challenges.

That being said, boy was this night a roller coaster. I'm not going to get into the music in this post because it was not my taste at all and my momma taught me that if I don't have something nice to say, I shouldn't say anything at all. I'll stick to my experiences as a photographer for the night.

Potty Mouth is an all female four piece punk band with Abby Weems on lead vocals and guitar, Phoebe Harris on guitar, Victoria Mandanas on drums and Ally Eindbinder on bass. They took a little time to find their groove on stage, but once they relaxed, they gave me some fun shots. Abby made lots of goofy faces while playing, which of course, never get past me.

Math the Band are a two piece from Rhode Island consisting of Kevin Steinhauser on guitar and Justine Mainville on drums and synth. Pure fun to photograph. They were all over the stage, pounding out music and jumping ridiculously high. Kevin even passed his guitar out into the crowd at one point. I had a blast photographing these two because they were having so much fun.

I had a great time photographing Math the Band. They had a ton of energy and gave me plenty of opportunities to capture that. The crowd was into it, but respectful of each others space. I point that out because things took an abrupt turn shortly after. Normally, before the headliner takes the stage, there is a buzz in the air. I love that feeling of anticipation as I get ready to do my job. I didn't feel that at all before Andrew WK came on. The crowd started pushing and shoving well before he entered the building. It was no longer that feeling of excitement; it was how can I best protect my gear and what's my exit strategy?

I want you to understand that I am a pretty tough individual. I was a catcher in softball at the age of twelve. I am very used to bracing myself for impact. There was a fast pitch tournament in Texas where I was knocked out cold from a collision at the plate and still managed to get the runner out. I'm also used to shooting in tough situations. I covered an entire season of the State Champion Ansonia Football team. You learn to shoot with both eyes open when athletes come rushing at you. I can't tell you how many times I was inches away from being clobbered in order to get the shot.

So when I tell you that I'm no longer comfortable at a shoot, I want you to understand what I'm talking about. There's no photographer's pit at most of the venues in Connecticut and Arch Street Tavern is no exception. I felt more like a ball inside a pinball machine getting slammed around than a photographer. Ping! Ping! Ping! Take a few shots. Knock over the stage monitor from the force of the people behind me, keep on shooting. There's no time for thinking about composition or changing lenses. This is reactionary. I put on my widest angle lens and hoped for the best. The photographs are fine, but by no means the best that I could've taken. I didn't attempt to change lenses because I needed all my focus and strength to remain on my feet.

I gave it two songs before I'd had enough. Concert photographers are usually given three songs to shoot, and at a lot of these smaller venues, I can get away with more than that. If given the opportunity, I will gladly shoot the entire show. I didn't feel like I was going to get anything else after two songs without risking my gear and my own safety. There was a surge from my left where I nearly got knocked over and that was my breaking point. Pushing my way through the crowd was just as difficult.

I don't understand the enjoyment of a mosh pit. I don't know why you'd want to go out and push other people around. It's clearly not my scene, not my musical preference and not something that I will photograph again, but I know that now. I got perfectly usable photographs from the night, even when I was pushed to my limits. I always try to give the musicians their due. This might not be a band I like, but to somebody else, they might think they are the greatest thing in the world. And I had the opportunity to photograph them.