Indie rockers, Death Cab for Cutie are a favorite of Santa Barbara. I've seen them at the Santa Barbara Bowl now three times and once at the Arlington Theatre, and they never fail to please. Lead singer, Ben Gibbard, is a musical genius, also the principal of Postal Service, who played at the Bowl last year. Opening the show was Best Coast.
I was able to shoot the show from the photo pit, but it was about as tight as I've ever seen it. To make matters worse, there were a dozen photographers squeezed in there like sardines, making it pretty much impossible to move around once you picked out a spot. Gibbard always seems to have lots of mic stands in front of him to amplify his myriad of instruments, so this show was particularly challenging for me. Additionally, the lighting was mostly hot red or hot, black-light blue, which makes for undetailed images unless they're converted to grayscale. I did leave a few of these in color to show the brilliance.
Anyway, check out the full gallery at sbbowl.com/gallery.
Indie jam rockers, My Morning Jacket, put on a phenomenal show at the Santa Barbara Bowl this year. After having seen them for the first time only a couple years ago, I knew to prepare for a mind-blowing performance. Hair-flipping guitarists, Jim James and Carl Broemel put on a photograph spectacle that didn't let me down.
Fruit Bats opened the show, also jamming away to a small, but captive audience. I had a chance to shoot them at Soho during the New Noise Festival a couple years back, and they sounded even better with a big sound system.
See the whole gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.
Neil Young and his new band, Promise of the Real, played the Santa Barbara Bowl to a sold out crowd. The show was excellent, save for the significant amount of political preaching, which was even considerable for a Neil Young concert. I got to shoot the first three songs from the sides of the photo pit, and had to share a tiny space with lots of other photographers. Only Neil was on stage for my duration, playing one song on a beat-up piano, and two on an acoustic guitar. There were lots of camera stands on stage and four mic stands, all creating a difficult obstacle course.
While the photography might not have been my best opportunity, the camera production was fantastic, projected on two large screens for the whole venue to see. "Down by the River" was mind-blowing and was followed by a few more late songs, pushing the boundaries of Santa Barbara noise curfew: the show went until 10:38pm. Neil was begging for martyrdom in this rebel tour, also handing out illegally transported sprouted seeds to the crowd. He actually dared the police to come arrest him.
Since the photos are restricted from use on this website, you'll have to shoot on over to the Bowl's website to see the gallery here.
Shawn Colvin put on a pleasurable performance, opening the show for Mr. Don Henley, soloist and rock 'n roll legend from the Eagles. Henley opened the show with his whole cast, doing the vocals-only, Seven Bridges Road, a real treat to hear live. I had to shoot both acts from the soundboard, covering most of it with my 400/f4 lens. Because neither Henley nor Colvin moved around too much, I was able to get some pretty sharp images with the 2X teleconverter attached. On my 1D Mark IV camera body (1.3x crop factor), this amounts to 1040mm of telephoto reach. Not too bad.
Because of a restriction from the Henley camp, I'm prohibited from posting his photo here. Shawn Colvin pictured.
See the gallery at sbbowl.com/gallery.
The Counting Crows put on a dynamic show to a sold out crowd the other night at the Santa Barbara Bowl. I actually had a ticket to see them several years back, but they had to cancel due to an illness. So, I was not only happy to finally get my raincheck, but I got to photograph them, to boot. The show was opened by two great acts, Citizen Cope and Hollis Brown, both of whom I had to shoot from the soundboard.
I got to shoot Counting Crows from a kneeling position on the floor, right up against the stage, which was difficult considering all the subwoofers on the floor and the sound monitors on the edge of the stage. I really got a good workout going up and down to the soundboard for each of the openers, then squatting and hobbling for the headliner, all while wearing all my gear. The lighting was great, and the first three songs seemed plenty long to work with.
See the gallery on sbbowl.com/gallery.
The Scorpions put on a phenomenal show last week at the Santa Barbara Bowl, celebration their 50th anniversary. Founder and lead singer, Klaus Meine, led he group for a sold out show. The double-decker stage set was as big as the sound, and it included a drummer's platform, which rose up fifty feet or more from the floor during Kottak's drum solo. Unfortunately, I was only permitted to shoot during the first three songs, so I didn't capture that act on film.
Opening the show was Queensryche, who also pounded out some powerhouse tunes.
I shot the first three songs from behind the ADA (handicap) section, which was a bit difficult because the music was so good that most everyone was standing and dancing, blocking some of my shots. I had to pivot around a lot.
See the full gallery on sbbowl.com/photos.
Busting out their foot-stomping brand of indie folk and bluegrass, the Avett Brothers returned for the second time to the Arlington, and third time to Santa Barbara in just a few short years. Shooting conditions were difficult, only because I had to shoot over the heads of the energetically-dancing crowd, who spilled out into the aisles while I was trying to squeeze in a shot here and there.
The Avetts have a very loyal following, and it was a privilege to be able to hang around to watch most of the performance, brought here by UCSB Arts & Lectures. See the photos and read the article on thearlingtontheatre.com here.
Out touring on the heels of their Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame induction, Daryl Hall and John Oates made a pit stop at the Santa Barbara Bowl. The duo have such a wide quiver of platinum hits that they kept the crowd fully entertained for the course of the evening. The stage was simple yet beautifully decorated. I was restricted to shoot from the sound board, but I had a 400mm lens to mitigate that situation, and the distance gave me the opportunity to photograph the entire stage.
See the gallery at sbbowl.com
Officially titled The Sounds of Summer Tour 2014, this blockbuster, classic rock 'n roll show blasted its way through the Santa Barbara Bowl. Oddly, the show was opened by a local teen choir group, who belted out their fresh voices unaccompanied by instruments to a crowd 3-4 times their age.
After their brief set, Don Felder graced the stage with his silvery-white hair, jamming his Les Paul guitar. You may recall that Felder was not only a guitarist for the Eagles, but he wrote some big hits of his own in the 80's, such as Heavy Metal. While in the Eagles, Felder was responsible for adding a more powerful guitar sound to their music, also co-writing some of that group's biggest hits. I was permitted to shoot from the photo pit. Unfortunately, there was an impassable barrier in the center, and I was obligated to choose one side or the other, then stick with it for all entire three songs I was allowed to shoot.
The same shooting restrictions were in place for Styx, who I shot from the left, then Foreigner, who I shot from the right side. Styx were real showmen as they were last time I shot them. I got some fun stuff of them individually, but it was nearly impossible to get a single shot of the entire group, especially because the drummer was so far back and the keyboards were so far to the left. I really wanted a good keyboardist shot, which is why I chose to shoot them from the left side.
Foreigner really rocked it with some extremely dramatic-yet-dim lighting. The vocalist got right in my face a couple times, once pushing his mic just a few inches from my camera. I was a little dismayed that front-man and songwriter, Mick Jones, didn't come out until half-way through song five. I was permitted to shoot songs 4, 5 and 6. In any case, I shot a lot of photos and got some great rock 'n roll photographs.
See the full gallery here on sbbowl.com.
Bryan Ferry kicked off the Santa Barbara Bowl's 2014 Concert Season by putting on a great show. Opening for him was Dawn Landes, who's music I found to be easy and compelling. I was able to shoot the opener while kneeling, front of stage. For Ferry, I did the same for three songs, then was able to shoot the rest of the show from the "wings" off the side of the floor. I used the opportunity to shoot a panoramic image from a new location.
To see the images, check out the gallery on gallery.sbbowl.com.