Sunday, May 24, 2009

No Doubt @ Cricket Pavilion

Some shows... right before the band starts... we photographers get to peek behind the giant curtain. We can see the band take their places, and see what they are feeling. When Gwen Stefani walked on stage, shielded from the massive sold out crowd by a huge white piece of nylon at the front of the stage, she couldn't help but smile. Frankly, it was nice to see the humility from such a huge star. It was also, for me, another one of those "whoa, this is a big deal" moments. It doesn't get much bigger than Gwen Stefani... reunited with No Doubt.

Keeping with the 'big' aesthetic, the stage set up for No Doubt was both massive and really fun to look at. There was a ridiculously large screen at the back of the stage.  Drummer Adrian Young with two touring back up band mates sat atop a large white spider-like drum riser. Everything on the stage was white. Even the screen was white at the start. Which, as simple as it sounds, makes for a really cool and clean look.

The band was perfectly together. Musically tight, and thriving off each other.  Every one seemed to be having a great time. Gwen, Tom Dumont (guitar), and Tony Canal (bass) could all be seen jumping around and kicking wildly into the air. It was a very genuine good time. The crowd couldn't have been happier. The screams were nearly as loud as the music.

I'm really glad I got to shoot this show. I thought it would be a big deal, and it was. Probably more than I expected. Lighting wise, it doesn't get much better, or easier. With a f2.8 lens, I was able to keep my ISO at 400 and my shutter between 1/200 and /250. It was a great environment for shooting... and the subjects don't get much more entertaining.

Paramore @ Cricket Pavilion

Last night was No Doubt at Cricket Pavilion, and Paramore is on tour as their opener. I felt I needed to give No Doubt their own full post... but I still wanted to post a few pics from Paramore's set.

Paramore isn't a band I've followed, but its a band you cant help but hear about. And while orange hair isn't really a new thing, Hayley Williams manages to stand out as the only one doing it in the pop scene today. 

Nominated for a Grammy in 2007 for "Best new artist", and a song on the Twilight soundtrack... Paramore are now a staple on the pop rock scene. Their performance was fun a light hearted. They played to the audience, and the audience responded. A pretty typical poppy-punky-rockish type sound thats easy to swallow and inoffensive make for a pretty successful recipe. Why don't more bands do it? (Sarcasm, kids.)

All in all, it was a good set. Lots of energy and no slow spots. Shooting them was pretty fun and easy too. The lights never really changed so conditions were stress free.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Flight of the Conchords @ Dodge Theatre

They bill themselves as "Formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo accapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo". The Flight of the Conchords is the name of the band, as well as their music-based comedy on HBO. The band is comprised of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, they star as themselves on their fictional TV comedy where they write songs about everyday happenings. For example: "The Most Beautiful Girl (in the room)", "I Love Dogs with Epilepsy", and "A Kiss Is Not a Contract".

The duo opened their set with "Too Many Dicks On The Dance Floor", a song about there being to many guys, and not not enough girls, on the dance floor... a song they performed in robot suits, then explained the meaning in detail, by just repeating all the lines of the song. :)

It was actually a very entertaining show, and surprisingly popular. I showed up at the Dodge just 15 minutes before the show was slated to start, and there was a mob of people outside, around the corner clamoring to get inside. They delayed the show an extra 25 minutes to allow people to find their seats.

Their onstage banter was hilarious. Another show I really wish I could have stayed an watched. Since this wasn't a proper 'concert', I was only allowed 10 minutes to photograph. It was probably more than enough... they didn't change too much. The lights were pretty consistent, and after they changed out of their robot suits they just sat on stools. Still, it seemed like it would have been a great show. I've added the DVDs to my netflix queue... time to catch up!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Haunter (film)

This weekend I helped out on the set of "The Haunter", my brother Gus' new film. To explain the plot would take be a lengthy blog in itself, but lets condense it to a sci-fi/suspense/horror film... about a man separated from his family, caught in the worst possible situation, and surrounded by dark visions.

Besides documenting the on-set mania, I helped with lighting the shots as well as watching the monitor for any slip ups or continuity issues.

This movie is going to be filmed exclusively on the new Red HD camera. If you don't know what the Red is... look it up! Its about the most amazing camera in the industry today. In the photo below, you can see it teetering on a skateboard atop a bar.

The purpose of the shoot this weekend was to capture one scene from the film, a scene that touches on the emotional chunk of the story, but also has a bit of the horrific side to it as well. The blend of the two will paint the picture for the rest of the movie. This scene will be edited together and used for purpose of pitching the script to studios and investors.
The film stars Jason Spisak and Scarlett O'neil.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jimmy Buffett @ Cricket Wireless

Wow. I was not expecting the crowd that Jimmy Buffet drew last night at the Cricket Pavilion! Normally, when I show up an hour or so early, I can drive right in, find a cozy parking spot, and mosey up to the gate. On this occasion, traffic was backed up down the street and around the corner of the amphitheatre. I ended up parking in the overflow lot and the very far end. I didn't even know they had an overflow lot!

Ok, enough about parking. The place was packed! I really did not see this coming. Tens of thousands of Buffett fans, or "Parrot heads". There was nary a grown man to be found NOT wearing a Hawaiian shirt. It really was quite remarkable. I can understand the enjoyment people get out of the cool island vibes of the music, but I didn't honestly think it was such a religious following for Jimmy. I sort of always thought he was more of a nostalgia act, but the fans proved me wrong.

Whatever the reason, nostalgia or pure devotion, the fans were behind him... even when I actually started laughing out loud to the lyrics of his song "Summerzcool":

It’s time to go to summer school
Remember what is and is not cool
Oh summer school
There’s a time and a place to act like a fool
At summer school
Get your ass to a beach or at least to a pool
At summer school
Remember what is and what is not cool

Here’s the subjects:
Beer 101.
Sex 102.
Tune it in turn it out
That’s what I’m talking about

Honest. Those are the lyrics. You cant write stuff like that. Well, apparently you can.

All joking aside, he brought his "A game". A nice large screen, palm trees and plenty of island vibe on stage. He even played barefoot! Come on! The band was great, not a beat wrong anywhere. He really gave his fans exactly what they wanted, and they had a great time. Even when Jimmy briefly mentioned President Obama's recent visit to Phoenix, the crowd rallied behind him... with an unsettling roar of "Boo". Maybe they weren't booing the President, maybe they just didn't want to talk politics at a concert?? No, no that's not why they booed.

Photo-wise... the lighting was good... pretty constant, but well lit. The only problem was that I was confined to a small corner on the far side of the stage and was not able to move at all. So the shots get a bit redundant. I guess he is big enough that he doesn't need my help in the press, eh?