so now i’m changing all the changes

des ark @ local 506

So basically last week, I had complete out of body mental breakdown whatever and I decided to buy plane tickets to Chicago in September, the weekend between Hopscotch and Bristol, so I could shoot Riot Fest. Because I figure that I don’t need to do anything in October other than coo over my photos of the Violent Femmes and regrow my feet after they have blistered and fallen off. I can recover in October watching college football, etc.

It was a confluence of things that spurred this: my Lis and her Jay considering the trip, THE BEST PAM EVER, Adam, the Carls and all their spawn I have yet to meet, and then the ‘Mats reunion show and also Fall Out Boy is headlining and there’s this thing where I could be three feet from Patrick Stump for a second time in 2013 and that’s just something that I accept in my life, alright.

The past two weeks were really weird. I spent a lot of time hollering at Allie about a variety of things that mostly boiled down to “BUT HUMANS: WHY”, I read a lot of Tumblr posts about Carol Danvers, I shot two amphitheatre shows after having shot exactly one over the previous four years (ie my cred is for reals now), my bank gave me a stupidly absurdly enormous credit limit raise, and it was just a week of … everything coming together. Five years, a lifetime, of hard work and unhappiness and frustration, and it really was like the sun coming out after a thunderstorm. A really, really long thunderstorm. The credit limit thing is the summation of it: I have worked very, very hard the last two years, with varying success until recently, to improve my credit and pay down my cards and save money so I could buy a house. A place that was mine. I still can’t do that, but my efforts have resulted in some whoppingly dumb credit limit raises that I have resisted the urge to abuse.

I could have seen that limit raise and bought a new camera body and the $1400 70-200mm/f2.8 Nikkor zoom that I actually, genuinely, need. That’s what I would have done three years ago. Instead, I metaphorically froze that credit card into a block of ice with two other credit cards and stuffed them at the back of the freezer, so I can keep paying them off without using them. I’ll save up for the lens and buy the $700 Tamron version; I’ll find someone selling another D80 body on Craigslist for cheap. It’ll happen. Instant gratification isn’t necessarily the best.

I revamped my website and I’m incredibly proud of it. I look at all those photos, and I think, I am good at what I do. I even figured out how to get my domain registrar to point my domain to my site and a sub to my blog.

I’ve written more than once this year about how satisfying it has been to finally, finally see some of my hard work come to fruition. Hell, even my post about Matt Harvey is about why knowing where you came from to success is important.

I spent this week in a Wikipedia-and-Twitter black hole of people who were involved in the Decaydance Records scene in 2008. I alleged that Ryan Ross turned into a cloud of bats and flew off to Romania. I’m in love with the world, and maybe with you.

frightened rabbit & wintersleep @ cat’s cradle

frightened rabbit @ cat's cradle

Frightened Rabbit absolutely destroyed the Cradle last night; a sold out crowd hung on every word that frontman Scott Hutchison — in a particularly cheerful, gregarious mood — said, and those moments when the crowd’s collective voice rose up over the band in chorus, those are the moments that give me shivers. I was in the midst of the crowd when it happened during “Old Old Fashioned”, and at the back during the fierce lines at the end of “My Backwards Walk”: you’re the shit and I’m knee deep in it, you’re the shit and I’m knee deep in it. They were both hugely resonant, sticking in that spot right under my ribs, between my heart and my soul.

I had a chance to chat with Scott and Grant a bit between soundcheck and show — more on that tomorrow — and I was just left with such a feeling of passion, professionalism, cleverness from both of them, and the band reflected by them. It wasn’t more clear than during second to last song “Living In Colour”, where Scott rasped out the half-chanted lyrics at a pace that almost felt like the song was about to go off the rails, at any moment, while Grant, calmly, behind the drums, kept the entire song pitching joyfully, fiercely forward. Pitching joyfully, fiercely forward: that’s Frightened Rabbit in one phrase, right there, and it was such last night, and it shall continue to be such.

Set list (as per set list given to me by adorable ginger FR tour manager Ian): Holy / The Modern Leper / Old Old Fashioned / Late March Death March / December’s Traditions / Nothing Like You / Backyard Skulls / Head Rolls Off / The Oil Slick / My Backwards Walk / State Hospital / Poke / Good Arms vs. Bad Arms / Swim Until You Can’t See Land / Acts Of Man // The Woodpile / Living In Colour / The Loneliness And The Scream

frightened rabbit @ cat's cradle

[An iPad is not an appropriate concert camera, and the next time I see anyone take more than a single photo with an iPad at a show, I am going to take their iPad, and then I will have an iPad, and I won’t have to spend my own money on one. This plan is flawless except for probably the bit where I get arrested. This is also my sole aside about last night’s photographers, except for Tiny Photographer In Front Of Me With The Canon That Weighed More Than Her: your shots looked amazing, so if you find me, please email, I’d love to see them.]

wintersleep @ cat's cradle

wintersleep @ cat's cradle

I really, really need someone to help me figure out how, exactly, in English, to rave about Wintersleep, who remain staggeringly phenomenal. You know that bit in The Time-Traveler’s Wife where Clare describes her work as “big and … about birds”? I describe Wintersleep to people as “big … and about Nova Scotia … and, okay, I’m probably going to cry, so don’t worry when I cry over this song about a ghost, okay?” But that’s how I feel about Wintersleep. In 2011, they saved my life by playing a show at Kings where they nearly blew the windows out onto Martin Street from the density and wildness (and, well, loudness). It was so huge and epic that it just wiped everything bad and angry and sad in my chest — and that June was a bad June — right out. Yesterday I wasn’t sad or angry, but they still raised up my heart in joy; their lyrics, the rhythmic gorgeous repetition of them, the way that frontman Paul Murphy’s vocals are as much part of the music as the instruments. It was a gorgeous set, full of the best from last year’s stellar Hello Hum, and my old favorites. I am so, so glad that they’re getting exposure with Frightened Rabbit, because they’re brilliant, and lovely people to boot, and they deserve to be famous and have sandwiches whenever they want.*

* This is an old, old Brian Fallon metaphor for “doing pretty well, but I’m totally not Stephen Tyler yet, stop asking”. I can have sandwiches any time I want. Remains one of the funniest bits of stage banter I’ve ever heard.

So yes. This was a good show. It made my soul and my heart and my brain happy.

Full photo set is here.

christmas mix: someone you used to know

hopscotch music festival 2012: built to spill

I’ve been making what I call a Christmas mix — that is, not holiday songs but a mix made at the holidays — since 1997; first they were tapes, then for a few years cds, and finally, in the digital age, the last seven years have been downloadable zip files, and this year is no exception. These are songs — frequently but not necessarily released in 2012 — that meant something to me this year, for various reasons, and they are for you. Consider it a list of my favorite songs of this year, if that helps. The whole shebang is available as a zip file [here] (135MB, .zip).

Happy holidays, happy 2012, happy these are great songs — whatever floats your boat. This is from me to you. 2012 was a bad year with great moments, and here’s hoping that 2013 is better.

If you creep about lurking and you only comment on one post all year, this would be a good one. I’m just sayin’. ♥

Okay, link should be working now. Let me know if it doesn’t.

  1. “Why” – Josh Ritter: why spend your only life waiting / to do what you know you can do?
  2. “I Want My Seven Years Back” – Chelsea Crowell: you can retell your same old story / and maybe some new girl won’t think it’s lame
  3. “I Don’t Mind” – Defeater: i will beg and steal and borrow / to keep you safe your whole life
  4. “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now” – Justin Townes Earle: i know it’s wrong but i’ve got to admit / i said some things that i shouldn’t have said
  5. “If I Needed You” (Townes Van Zandt) – Mumford & Sons: if i needed you would you come to me / would you come to me, for to ease my pain?
  6. “Giving Up Redheads” – Leland Sundries: well that girl didn’t even catch my eye, boys, until she dyed her hair
  7. “Flowers In Your Hair” – The Lumineers: it takes a man to live / it takes a woman to make him compromise
  8. “Pick Me Up” – Air Traffic Controller: have a seat, grab a drink / try not to give a fuck what anybody thinks
  9. “Working Titles” – Damien Jurado: you wrote about me on every new record / i’ll show up in the title of your song / i only hope that somebody requests it
  10. “That Old Black Hole” – Dr. Dog: i was not prepared to lose it all the moment that i found it
  11. “King of the World” – First Aid Kit: well i’m nobody’s baby / i’m everybody’s girl / i’m the queen of nothing / i’m the king of the world
  12. “Smothered In Hugs” (Guided By Voices) – Cuff The Duke: i’m gonna leave with you / you can teach me all you know
  13. “The Happy Song” – Alex Chilton: sing us a happy little song and we can do the rest
  14. “Cinder Blocks” – Onward, Soldiers: where have you been / come back to Carolina
  15. “Nice Things” – The Menzingers: are you happy, are you sane, are you rich, are you thin?
  16. “Nothing Is Anything (Without You)” – Wintersleep: if it was easier to leave it alone / why did you come here?
  17. “Never Have To Fall In Love Again” – Eleni Mandell: but if you have to gamble on a better life than ramble / and i’ll start by falling out of love with you.
  18. “Isn’t This World Enough??” – Admiral Fallow: from your first exhale to your very last breath / isn’t this world enough?
  19. “Still Not Home” – Tift Merritt: i try so hard, but i’m still not home
  20. “Someone You Used To Know” – Wylie Hunter & the Cazadores: you can say that’s the voice of someone you used to know

yep roc 15

yep roc 15

yep roc 15

yep roc 15: eleni mandell

yep roc 15: los straightjackets

yep roc 15: cheyenne marie mize

yep roc 15: sloan

yep roc 15: jim white

yep roc 15: the minus 5

yep roc 15: the minus 5

yep roc 15: john doe & the sadies

Full set from all three nights of Yep Roc 15, a celebration of Yep Roc Records’ 15th birthday party, is here. Write-up will be on Speakers In Code tomorrow or Tuesday. Thanks for inviting me to your party, y’all. It kicked ass.

(I shot every band on the lineup but Liam Finn — who I shot at the Casbah a year ago last Thursday, actually, which we’ll call my own personal YR14 — and Fountains of Wayne, because on Friday night I needed to go home early and die. But that would be: Jukebox the Ghost, Eleni Mandell, Chuck Prophet, Dave Alvin, Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe (!!!), Los Straitjackets, Mayflies USA, Cheyenne Marie Mize, Josh Rouse, Sloan, Darren Hanlon, Jim White, the Minus 5, Chatham County Line, Tift Merritt, John Doe (!!!!!!), and the Sadies, and John Wesley Harding.)

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012: spirit family reunion

If you ask me, Bristol Rhythm & Roots is the best bang for your festival buck in the country — $40 gets you a weekend of the best traditional and new Americana artists out there, plus you get to watch the Tennessee/Florida game with Tennessee fans, and the quality of the street food is top-notch. You really can’t beat it, and their lineup is always flawless.

This year I didn’t see as many new bands as I wanted to, or even as many sets as I meant to catch, but I got to see a full 14 song set from my beloved Ha Ha Tonka, two sets from the Deep Dark Woods, Lydia Loveless, and Girls Guns & Glory, who don’t tour much down here. The Tonk alone were worth the money, and I topped it off with plenty of other great music and a weekend with like-music-ed folks.

There’s nothing not to love about Bristol.

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012: shovels & rope

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012: the deep dark woods

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012: ha ha tonka

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012: girls guns & glory

bristol rhythm & roots reunion 2012: ha ha tonka

the bouncing souls @ cat’s cradle

the bouncing souls @ cat's cradle

I love shooting punk shows, and last night I kind of even missed the Brewery a little. The light there was great for punk shooting.

The Souls were fun, the Menzingers made me cry, and Luther is a recommendation for Pam, if she doesn’t know them already. The Menzingers’ 2012 record On The Impossible Past is genius gorgeous heartbreaking, and it’s even more painful and honest live. I adore that band like whoa.

Full set here.

the menzingers @ cat's cradle

luther @ cat's cradle