Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: A.A. Bondy, Brendon Urie/Pete Wentz

Now here’s DJ Jen to take you into the all-request hour…

Total Request (Not Quite Live)

For April, from Ohio: A.A. Bondy


I took this one last winter, during soundcheck at the Bowery Ballroom. (Also on the bill: Willy Mason, The Duke & The King.) It is probably the best picture I took all night, of anyone. It is certainly the best lit picture of Bondy that I have, because he seems to like to sing in the dark, or at least in extremely low light, and I don’t use a flash.

I had (slightly) better luck when I saw him again earlier this year at Union Hall, in Brooklyn. He still confined himself to four red stage lights, but I was closer to him, which made it easier to work with the low light. The shot below, a variation on the “tuning my guitar” pose, is my favorite from the evening. It is, again, a moment of stillness amid a flurry of activity. And there’s the totally incongruous picture of the colonial lady above his head, as if he’s in someone’s very fancy parlor, and not in a shoe-box-sized basement room in Brooklyn where there are dead animals nailed to the wall behind the bar and people playing bocce ball upstairs. (Yes, really, bocce ball. There’s also book-lined shelves and functioning fireplaces. Union Hall is a very interesting place.)


For Alina, from Moscow: Brendon Urie and Pete Wentz

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I took this picture at Angels and Kings last August during Brendon Urie’s solo acoustic set. Pete Wentz was kind of but not really a surprise guest, in the sense that a) Fall Out Boy was on the Blink-182 tour with Panic! at the Disco, at the time and b) we were all crammed in his bar. When he appeared on the stage the first time — practically out of thin air — I was too startled to take any pictures. This shot is from the second time, when he came out to sing Don’t Stop Believin’ with Brendon. All I had time to do was point the camera at their faces and hope for the best.

I’m particularly fond of this picture partially because that evening marks the start of my rock and roll photography adventure – I had never bothered bringing my camera to shows before – and partially because it’s a moment where they both look happy.

The next one is just Brendon Urie by himself. You can’t tell from the expression on his face, but it was about 900 million degrees in that bar at that moment, and the audience was practically in his lap. I think he may have been trying not to laugh at whatever was going on in the front row.


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