Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Cadillac Sky

More Cadillac Sky = more good. Jennifer shares a little of her experience with the guys during their New York show. Panda says this show was off the hook, and I don’t doubt it for a second.

Continuing the Cadillac Sky theme for this week, here’s some pictures from the show I went to over Memorial Day weekend. They played at Union Hall – the random picture of the old lady that was hanging on the wall behind the stage has sadly disappeared – and it was a rockin’ good time.

Note: Union Hall tends to be dark, and I was struggling a little bit with the low light. I do take pictures in color, I promise, it just happened that this time the black and white ones were (mostly) the ones that came out the sharpest.

Bryan Simpson

Matt Menefee and David Mayfield

Matt Menefee and Andy “Panda” Moritz

At one point Dave, Bryan and Ross came down off the stage and into the crowd to do a cover of “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie, which they made into a wrenching mountain ballad. By the end the whole room was singing along.

Dave Mayfield, Bryan Simpson, and Ross Holmes

The absolute best cover of the evening, though (possibly of the year) was “Video Killed the Radio Star” done “B for Bluegrass”-style, which I didn’t photograph because I was too busy being filled with joy. Later in the evening there was also an epic guitar/fiddle battle, and I was pretty sure I detected bits and pieces of “Devil Went Down to Georgia” amid the cascading flurries of notes.

And finally, here they are doing a Stanley Brothers song barbershop quartet-style:


— Jennifer

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Miss Derringer, Cracker, The Reverend Horton Heat

This week, Jennifer shares shots from what is possibly the most perplexing tour line-up ever, Cracker and the always-great Reverend Horton Heat. Opening on this stop was Miss Derringer, led by lowbrow artist Liz McGrath.

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Miss Derringer :

Liz McGrath and Morgan Slade

And in color:

Liz McGrath and Morgan Slade

They are, in fact, as hot and as sharp as their namesake pistol. That was terrible, wasn’t it? I’m sorry. But they really are. They came out to crowd that was hanging back, sitting on the mysterious couches (which I had never seen in the High Line before, it was most perplexing) and proceeded to get a whole lot of people up and dancing. Possibly I have seen Grease a few too many times, but I found myself thinking this music is begging for a floor full of girls in poodle skirts getting flipped up and over their sweethearts’ heads. Tough girls, that is, in black poodle skirts with blood-red petticoats and lipstick to match.

Anyway, the High Line has a nice big stage, and they were spread out across it. Here’s the guitars on the other side:

Nick Bacon (guitar) and Sylvain de Muizon (bass)

And the drums:

Cody James

They were followed by Cracker , who apparently have a new record out:

Johnny Hickman, David Lowery

And then it was time for the Reverend:


And in color, with a little secret smile:


The set was a mixture of old (Bales of Cocaine) and new (Don’t Take the Baby to the Liquor Store), and at one point, he had people slam-dancing to Bill Haley and the Comets. That right there kind of sums up why I love this band. Anyway, in closing, here is Johnny Hickman (Cracker) hamming it up on the electronic harmonica:


— Jennifer

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Butch Walker and the Black Widows/Locksley

This week, Jennifer takes a chance on Butch Walker, with some lovely results.

Butch Walker and the Black Widows/Locksley, Webster Hall, 5/20/2010

I kind of decided to go to this show on a whim. Up until relatively recently I’d been neutral to indifferent about the music of Butch Walker, but then he came out with I Liked You Better When You Had No Heart and I developed a fondness for Pretty Melody, because, well, it does have a pretty melody. And it kind of sounds like a backwoods orchestra creaking to life, one instrument at a time. So when his name popped up in one of my concert alerts I thought all right, let’s go see what this is all about.

I am really, really glad I went, because it was an incredible evening. He played a variety of instruments, including a banjolele – an actual cowbell also made an appearance, though it was played by guitarist Chris Unck – and we danced in the pit, singing along and clapping. He covered Weezer and Hall & Oates, and at one point towards the end, jumped in to the crowd and led us in a variation on the Twist, in order to drown out the muffled sounds of disco coming from the floor below us. It was crazy, and hilarious, and one of the best shows I’ve been to for a while.

But to begin, properly, at the beginning, the first band on the stage was Locksley . Their MySpace genre is “garage/pop/rock”, but apparently they have also previously classified themselves as “doo-wop punk” which I think is far more accurate. They have the three-part harmonies down, and also they look like they might have just wandered off the set of a remake of Grease, from the top of their rolled sleeves right down to the curve of Jordan Laz’s ducktail.

Jesse Laz and Jordan Laz

Live they tend to drift more towards the “garage” and “punk” end of the spectrum, with excellent results. They put on a great high-energy show, which last Thursday included a particularly good cover of The White Stripes’ Hotel Yorba and an instrumental snippet of Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll No. 2.

Kai Kennedy and Sam Bair

And then it was time for Butch Walker and the Black Widows.

Butch Walker

He played the first two songs a) on the piano and b) practically in the dark, and none of my pictures of it came out very well. This one is from somewhere around song 3 or 4, after he had moved to the middle of the stage. I was particularly fond of the use of the fairy lights on stage.

Chris Unck and Fran Capitanelli

I was on the rail on the far left, so a good many of my pictures are of these two gentlemen. In addition to the guitar, Chris Unck also played the lap steel, maracas, the tambourine, and, as noted above, the cowbell.

Jake Sinclair

I spent most of the evening thinking of Jake Sinclair as Jake the Elusive Bassist, although by “elusive” I really meant “standing on the other side of Butch Walker where I can’t get a clear shot of him.” This is one of the better pictures I did manage to take. The gentleman behind him is Dr. Pat the Tour Doctor, who came out in the middle of the show to sit in and join the fun.


And, in conclusion, two more of Butch Walker. The one above is him perched on the edge of the stage at the end of the main set, after a raw and powerful performance of Best Thing You Never Had. I do love the stark stillness of it, but the show didn’t end on that note. So in closing, I give you the one below, from the encore, from not long after he informed us that “Tiny guitar means party!”:


— Jennifer

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: An NYC Hodgepodge

Today, rock ‘n’ roll photog Jennifer shares a collection of her favorite locals (her locus being New York City).

A selection of my favorite New York City bands:

Atomic Tom (Brooklyn)


Luke White

These were taken at the Canal Room last fall, and I was actually too busy dancing to take that many pictures. I’ve picked my two favorites to share today: the lead singer, striking a classic rock star pose, and the drummer, because I’m particularly fond of the light in that picture. The music is more rock than pop, and they have a new record coming out sometime soon. In the meantime you can listen to their new single at their MySpace.

Tobias Smith

Black Gold (Brooklyn)

Eric Ronick

These are from a show at the (new) Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Also on the bill: Hunter Valentine, Des Roar (more on them below), and Girl in Coma. I really didn’t know much about the other bands, and was for some reason expecting a mellow show. I was pleasantly surprised to be totally wrong. All of the bands, but especially Black Gold, brought the high-quality, high-energy rock and roll to the stage. The songs on their MySpace are a reasonable representation, though live the guitars and the keyboards roll and soar in a much more muscular way. In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing them again this summer, when they go out on tour with The Young Veins and Rooney.


Than Luu

The Crash Moderns (New York, NY)


Danny Roselle

I first encountered this band last summer at an acoustic evening at Angels and Kings. The pictures I took of them that night are kind of god-awful. These are from a later show at the Canal Room – the same night as the Atomic Tom pictures above – and while their aesthetic is kind of gothy, their sound is pure fun pop. They will definitely be on my road trip play list, as it is the best kind of music for driving around in the sun with the windows open.

Mikey Vranek (guitar), Tommy Eichmann (keys)

Des Roar (New York, New York)


Ben Wolcott

And now for something completely different . . .

Unlike the other three bands, Des Roar has much more of a rockabilly feel, kind of like the Reverend Horton Heat, if the Reverend were singing songs about Ted Bundy and not bales of cocaine or the virtues of steak. I also spent a lot of time dancing and not taking pictures during their set.


Alan O’Keeffe


Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: HIM/We Are The Fallen/Dommin/Drive A

Usenet, anyone remember that? That’s where the Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog, Jennifer, and I met, at a little place called alt.gothic. This week, Jennifer goes back to her gothy roots.

And now, jumping back to the present, with a show I just went to last week: HIM, along with We Are The Fallen, Dommin and Drive A, at Irving Plaza. I was shooting from the balcony, so there are probably better pictures out there. But these are mine, and here are some of my favorites:

Drive A was the lone punk band on the bill. They bounced around the equipment-crowded stage to the best of their ability, and they got the only proper mosh pit of the evening. (Tangent: I love watching the pit form and surge from the balcony. My black little heart grows three sizes when the crowd bells out and the circle coalesces and starts to spin.) At one point the lead singer hopped down to stand on the barrier:


and later he jumped into the crowd:


Next up was Dommin , who have declined to classify themselves on MySpace, but I can tell you they are high-quality gothabilly with a hint of Elvis. Favorite song: My Heart, Your Hands, which is magnificent and rolls like a mighty wave, live.


I think those might be skulls hanging off the keyboard, but I’m not entirely sure:


And then there was We Are The Fallen , which I thought was Amy Lee (Evanescence) with a new band, but is actually Evanescence without Amy Lee. Oops. Sorry, Carly Smithson. I did enjoy your cover of Like A Prayer! I am also sorry most of the pictures I took of you were kind of awful. Here’s one for general flavor:


And then, at long last, HIM , who are a thing of beauty and a joy forever, and seemed to be as delighted to see us as we were to see them. This is mainly a picture of the stage, with a hint of Ville Valo in the middle there, but I like the color, and also the spots of cellphone/camera lights:


I tried to get some close-ups, but that didn’t work out so well. This one of Linde probably came out the best:


And then there’s this one, of Ville Valo and Migé:


It was, overall, a wonderful show. The music was great – atmospherically gothy but not a ponderous doom fest — and they did two fabulous covers, one of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game and Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. Ville Valo was chatty and charming between songs, teasing his bandmates and occasionally telling jokes with no punchline, and I basically spent the whole set grinning at them dopily, clapping along and trying to dance and/or headbang without knocking into anyone standing next to me.

— Jennifer

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: The Felice Brothers

This week Jennifer brings the extra-happy by featuring NTSIB favorite the Felice Brothers. I’ll be seeing the boys again on Monday, and Jennifer and I both look forward to rocking Lebowski Fest with them (and the wonderful Digger from Take This Bread) in July.

The week after I saw the Gin Blossoms, I continued my January theme of “wandering around unfamiliar places in the dark and bitter cold looking for concerts” with a trip to the Boulton YMCA in Bay Shore, Long Island to catch the Felice Brothers. There were no scantily-clad college students or gigantic mixers, but I did encounter a lighthouse small enough to fit on a traffic island. It did not light my way home, or, more importantly to the venue, and I was both lost and running late, so I didn’t take its picture. Perhaps next time, Bay Shore. Anyway, I did eventually make it to the show:


I was expecting Ian Felice to be about twice as old as he actually is, and three times as grizzled. I was really, truly sure they were the opening band until he started singing. (NB: there was no opening band.) I would like to add here that their set list was written on the back of that pizza box. I don’t know if it was pizza from the place next to the venue, but the pizza from that place is excellent. Especially when you are frazzled and your fingers have been numb for ten minutes.

James Felice and Christmas having an accordion-bass party

The Boulton YMCA is set up so that the front row is really pretty close to the stage, which is excellent for photography but awkward for dancing. Though when James Felice insisted we all get up and do the dance moves for Whiskey in my Whiskey we did our best to comply.

James Felice rocking his accordion while Greg Farley plays the living daylights out of his washboard.

These last two of Ian Felice and Christmas are wholly self-indulgent. I just really like the light, or the way they’re standing, or both:



— Jennifer

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Michael Runion

Jennifer the Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog is so excited about her featured artist today that she’s not even waiting until she has pictures to tell you all about him.

Michael Runion is an artist I discovered entirely due to Twitter. According to his MySpace, his genre is “Visual/Folk/Pop”. (Tangentially, I really do love MySpace genre descriptions; some of them are generic things like “rock/pop” and some of them are more interesting things like “2-step/experimental/country” and finding out who is accurate with their self-labeling is always a good time.) But getting back to the subject at hand: left to my own devices, I think I’d tell you that Runion specializes in beautiful, delicate melodies wrapped around razor-sharp lyrics. The result is songs that are good company for filing as well as long train rides to the beach. (I’ll let you know how they do with the car stereo test after this summer.) I’m particularly fond of Drunk as I’ve Ever Been and Don’t Let Her Hold You Down, the latter of which would be the perfect tune for dancing a barefoot two-step with a cowboy before sending him back out on the rodeo circuit. If that sounds like something you’d be into, you should check him out.

I don’t have any pictures of him (yet; I’m hoping if he tours this summer he’ll swing through New York), so I’m bringing some videos (that are not mine) to share instead. The first one is him singing The Daylight, with Z Berg of The Like (genreless, for now, but: ’60s glamour/fierce ladies/pop, their songs WILL get stuck in your head). There’s a whole story for this song written in her facial expressions and the set of her shoulders:


Next up: another duet/battle, this time doing Don’t Look Back with Dave Rawlings, who sang with Gillian Welch for many years but has recently reconfigured himself as the Dave Rawlings Machine (genre: alternative/acoustic/industrial)(?!) and struck out on his own:


And here he is by himself (kind of; the people lounging on the beanbag chair in the background are his friends) on public access tv, with Soft Hands:


And then my favorite video, Our Time Will Come, which, fair warning, contains shirtlessness and shaving:


Michael Runion Official Website – WARNING: PLAYS MUSIC!
Michael Runion Twitter

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: The Gin Blossoms

For this week’s installment of Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog, Jennifer shoots a band who might send you on a nostalgia trip.

One of the upsides of getting old is when the bands that were dear to your teenage heart put out new records and tour on them, you are finally able to see them play live.

For example: The Gin Blossoms and Soul Asylum, who were featured heavily on my high school and college mix-tapes, are both working on new music AND touring together this summer. They’re stopping through New Jersey in July, and I am SO EXCITED.

I have seen both bands before, though separately, and only relatively recently: Soul Asylum in 2008, when they opened for Everclear (!) at Webster Hall (also on the bill: Cracker, though I missed them due to class), and the Gin Blossoms just this past January, at the Outpost in the ‘Burbs, in Montclair, New Jersey. I didn’t take any pictures at the Webster Hall show, but I did get a few in Montclair:

Jesse Valenzuela, Robin Wilson, and Bill Leen

The show was in a church and we were sitting in the pews, so I was a lot further from the stage than I usually am when I’m taking pictures. It was also really cold that night, even inside, which is why they’re all bundled up. Nonetheless, Robin Wilson’s voice was as sweet and clear as ever, and he was rocking that tambourine. They were all rocking, actually; Bill Leen even broke a string!

Bill Leen and Scott Johnson

The whole “sitting in pews” thing was kind of awkward and strange, actually, not least because it made it difficult to get up and dance without feeling like I was being rude and blocking someone’s view. But really that didn’t matter. I was just happy to be able to be there to hear a room full of people glide through the chorus of Mrs. Rita.

And, too, Jon Bon Jovi once commented that Living on a Prayer means a lot more when you’ve actually done it; the same can be said for Found Out About You and Allison Road. They did play some of their newer stuff, too, which I quite liked. I’m looking forward to hearing more of it this summer.

Bill Leen

Afterwards I walked back out into the frigid night and made my way to the train station, picking my way carefully through shoals of college students. At least one of the girls was literally wearing nothing but a t-shirt, pantyhouse, boots, and a smile. When I stopped to inquire about the occasion, it emerged there was a Jersey Shore full-cast appearance going on in a nearby club, which, I discovered later, ended in a near-riot. And then I passed by this, located outside a bakery, which has nothing to with music at all, but I am nonetheless sharing because it was just so awesome:


Gin Blossoms’ MySpace
Gin Blossoms’ webpage
Gin Blossoms on Twitter

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

IMG_2657.JPG copy

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.


Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Bad Rabbits/The Young Veins/Foxy Shazam

NTSIB is very pleased to introduce a new series to the blog. Our good friend and rock ‘n’ roll photographer Jennifer will highlight some of her favorite photos from her various rock ‘n’ roll escapades and talk about the photos, the musicians and related minutiae. Please enjoy the first installment.


My name is Jennifer, and I’ll be one of April’s partners-in-shenanigans in Mississippi this summer. I live in New York. I go to a lot of shows. I take a lot of pictures. This past week the Foxy Shazam/The Young Veins/Bad Rabbits tour stopped at Webster Hall in the East Village in Manhattan and also at the (new) Knitting Factory, in Brooklyn. The tour continues through April, and all of you should see them if they pass through your neighborhood.

These are some of my favorite pictures from those shows:

Bad Rabbits

These gentlemen from Boston really bring the funk. (Their MySpace sound really does not do them justice at all. Let me put it this way: I walked in having never heard them before, I walked out willing to pay money to see them at their own show.) Most of the pictures I took of them at Webster Hall were not that great; I was much more successful at the Knitting Factory. I’ve picked two to share today.

One of their bits of stage business is boy-band style synchronized dancing, which I tried to capture here:


And as for the second one, mainly I just like the wash of blue light:


The Young Veins

True confessions: This was the band I went to these shows to see.[1] Their sound is closer to classic rock than to funk and they’re so new they only have two songs on their MySpace. Their record comes out in June, but, based on what I’ve heard so far live, my favorite songs are “Capetown” and “Young Veins (Die Tonight)” mainly because they remind me of the wry pleasures of being young, running around in ridiculous clothes and falling in love with inappropriate people. (She says, like she doesn’t do that anymore. Well, all right, but perhaps not on quite the same scale.)

The first couple of pictures are from Webster Hall, specifically, the basement space, known as The Studio. The light down there is kind of awful but I got several pictures I liked:


Ryan Ross as a point of stillness amid a flurry of on-stage activity. The stillness is actually what I like; they were setting up and soundchecking at the time, so there were people all over the stage fiddling with wires and whatnot; that’s Jon Walker behind him.


Ryan Ross with Andy Soukal in the background; I like this one because I managed to capture the spotlight hitting them just right.


Ryan Ross again, this time playing the tambourine. I should delete it – I have other, better ones, and it’s all blown out — but I love it. Possibly I love it because it’s all blown out. Or because I have a soft spot for Ryan Ross playing the tambourine. That could be it, too.

Foiled by bad lighting at the first show, for the second night, at the Knitting Factory, I was on a mission: get a decent picture of Jon Walker. These are some of the results:


Here he is singing a song. This one is one of the better attempts at the same picture, but I’m still not 100% happy with it. They’ll be back in June, and if I can get to their show, I’ll try again.


In the classic “tuning my guitar” pose. I’m fond of this one because I had finally managed to get the right combination of light and activity.

Other highlights from the evening:


Nick Murray at his drums during set-up and sound-check.


Nick White, with Jon Walker’s arm in the middle there. This is probably one of the better ones, in terms of crispness and clarity.

Foxy Shazam

If you have never attended a Foxy Shazam show: you owe it to yourself to remedy that situation, because they are amazing. Eric Nally is a tiny tornado on stage, bunny-hopping onto the shoulders of his guitarist, eating cigarettes, doing headstands and rolling somersaults, and jumping into the audience. At the end of the Webster Hall show he was literally shirtless and swinging from the rafters. Here are some of the highlights of the shows:


Eric Nally does a headstand (mid-song!) at Webster Hall.


Eric Nally addresses the crowd at Webster Hall, in one of the very few moments in which he was standing still.


Alex Nauth comes up to the front to play the horn, at Webster Hall. I love both the lights on him and his dramatic pose.


Eric Nally, facing Daisy, who is balancing his guitar on his fingers. Sky White is playing the keyboards to the right. The Knitting Factory used a bunch of different colored lights, which is always fun. I think “green” was a great decision for this bit of stage business.

[1] Two members, Ryan Ross and Jon Walker, are formerly of Panic! At the Disco, one of my favorite bands. They left Panic last summer, and this is their new project.

Upcoming Dates
Apr 7 2010 7:00P The Basement Columbus, Ohio
Apr 8 2010 7:00P The Eagle Theatre Pontiac, Michigan
Apr 9 2010 8:00P The Mad Hatter Covington, Kentucky
Apr 10 2010 7:30P Beat Kitchen SOLD OUT Chicago, Illinois
Apr 11 2010 5:30P The Vault Buffalo, Minnesota
Apr 13 2010 8:00P Marquis Theatre Denver, Colorado
Apr 15 2010 8:00P El Corazon Seattle, Washington
Apr 16 2010 7:30P Venue Vancouver, British Columbia
Apr 17 2010 8:00P Satyricon Portland, Oregon
Apr 18 2010 9:00P Bottom of the Hill San Francisco, California
Apr 19 2010 7:30P The Boardwalk Orangevale, California
Apr 21 2010 8:00P Troubadour West Hollywood, California
Apr 23 2010 7:15P Martini Ranch Scottsdale, Arizona