I've been sitting on this post for a few weeks in order to get more traffic over on Surviving the Golden Age. I wrote the review for this concert on top of photographing it; my first of the year. If you want to check that out, click here. I still struggle with official concert reviews. I feel like I write like a photographer and I try to stick to the facts. Maybe I should be writing more about my experience, I'm not exactly sure. Anywho, this post will be more from the perspective of me shooting it and it has more pictures, so scroll on!
I try to be one of the first people at the venue for concerts that I'm covering without a photo pit. Often times, I have to suffer through some music I'm not exactly a fan of to make sure I have good position for the headliner. While I wasn't familiar with She Keeps Bees, the duo of Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant, they were a lot of fun. Larrabee was constantly joking with the crowd and completely engaging, which I really appreciated. I was in a slightly bad position for shooting her, because I set up in front of the centered microphone reserved for Van Etten's set. Larrabee faced the left the majority of the set. I took a few shots here and there and made sure my exposures were on. I've shot the Outer Space Ballroom plenty of times now to know that the red light can be obnoxious from the sides of the stage. If you can get there early and be set up towards the center of the stage, it's not nearly as bad.
She Keeps Bees
The best part of a shoot for me are the moments before the headliner comes on. The energy in the room builds as the fans' excitement grows. It gets me excited and reminds me how much I love doing this. As the band took the stage, I stared in shock at the person who walked out to the drum kit. I've covered Ben Folds Five a couple times for different publications and Hotel Lights on this blog, but it was a complete surprise to see Darren Jessee on stage with Sharon Van Etten. In my research before the show, I read that Zeke Hutchins was the drummer in the past, who drummed for Hotel Lights the first time I photographed them. I thought, cool, I might photograph Zeke again; having Jessee behind the kit was an added bonus.
I remember when this show was first announced and I jumped at the opportunity to shoot it. While I'll photograph most bands regardless of their music, it's much more enjoyable to photograph someone you respect and admire. I'd never seen her live and left the show even more impressed with her playful attitude. She seemed genuinely happy to be there and talked to the audience between songs, who were the most respectful audience I've seen at a show in a LONG time.
I stayed at the front of the stage for the first three songs and then moved to the back of the room. When I know I have to write the review for a concert, I try to force myself to stop taking pictures and pay attention to the music. That's the hardest part for me because I would shoot the entire time if I let myself. When I shoot, I'm seriously zoned in on the visual, watching each band member interact and trying to capture those special moments. Of course, I still moved about the room and got some different angles.
My last shot of the night was taken back by the bar, shooting through the crowd. I caught this moody image of Darren which is one of my favorite photos so far this year. It's not every day that you happen upon one of your top musicians at another's concert. I spoke to him quickly at the end of the show to confirm that he was going to be a part of the entire tour, that the next Hotel Lights album is nearly done and he's really looking forward to it.
As always, I leave you with shoes!
Sharon Van Etten