Monday, August 9, 2010

Toby Keith @ Cricket Pavilion

Walking up to a big country music show is an experience all it's own. Inevitably at any concert, there will always be people tail gating pre-show... drinking... stumbling over their feet before they even make it through the turnstiles. But at a country show they are all clad in straw cowboy hats... "fuck yeah" can be heard quite often... and that unmistakable sound of a steel guitar seems to echo to every corner of the parking lot.

Toby Keith. Here is what I know about Toby Keith: he was at one time, sort of a country music "bad boy". He wears a bandanna, drives a big truck, and sings songs about kickin' the other guys' ass. I will never forget the title of his war rally album, "Shockin' Y'all!". America, feck yeah!

Toby's set felt more like a giant commercial for Alfa Romeo than it did a concert. No wait... not Alfa Romeo... what's that big American car company that makes trucks that are banned in San Francisco because of size and weight restrictions?? Yeah, that one. Before Toby came on stage, the audience was subjected to, basically a shouty 10 minute truck commercial... Toby driving through middle America in his giant FU-4,000,000 crew cab truck, saving peoples lives and fighting off ninjas. Afterwards, the band took the stage, fireworks and flames went off, and then a giant truck appeared behind the drummer on a large riser... followed by another truck appearing under the drum riser, with Toby laying in the truck bed, cowboy boots up on the gate. A small person walked out, lowered the tailgate and set up a mic, Toby got out, a Marine handed him his guitar, and he sang a song from the tailgate. (None of that was made up)

You can't argue that the audience didn't get bang for their buck. In fact, during just the two songs I was allowed to photograph, as many as three bangs could have been heard... who knows how many more bangs the audiences' buck got after I left.

On another point, this was one of the loudest shows I've been to in a while. Toby's gravel filled country draw was so loud, and the frequency of his voice so shrill, that it made my brain start to revolt... it was telling my hands to abandon photographing to protect itself.

All in all I had a decent time shooting. The lighting conditions were altogether fair. Toby gave us plenty of time to get nice shots on the second song. Even tho most photographers will complain about cowboy hats blocking the eyes of the performer, you sort of just get what you can and wait for that one nice moment to present itself. Armed with my 17-40mm and my 100-400mm, I walked away not feeling I missed anything.

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