Thursday, July 08, 2010

Adventures in the Photo Pit - Melvins

Since this has sort of become my (non-paying) job, I thought I should start blogging about my Adventures in the Photo Pit... told from the point-of-view of someone who has NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL SHE IS DOING.

Yep. I mean, sure, I know how to write. I did glean something from Journalism school.

But writing about music? I could wax on and on about films, or fashion or traveling but... music? I mean, I love music (A LOT) but I'm also pretty stubborn when it comes to the music that I like. I dislike 90% of the new music out there, therefore I don't listen to the radio. There just isn't that much good songwriting anymore (seriously).

Yet here I am, reviewing albums with a fresh ear, which isn't such a bad thing. I'm learning to articulate why I like and don't like certain things and exposing myself to music I perhaps might have scoffed for being too "hipster" or "indie" (OK, I will continue to scoff at both of those things).

And I'm interviewing artists, which is eye-opening in it's own right. I have interviewed people like Anna Paquin (you can read here), local producer Kirk Shaw and William B. Davis (you can read here) but as you can see that was AGES AGO. Luckily, Kid Koala was a total sweetie... I just wish they'd hurry up and publish the article.

And covering The Slew at the Commodore was fun and challenging too.

Monday night I covered the Melvins concert at The Rickshaw Theatre.

You can get the gist of the show from the review, hopefully, but here's the "behind the scenes."

So, a few days before my boss gets an email from a woman and says I am on the guest list, with a +1 and a photo pass. Sweeeeeet! I have several of the Melvins latest albums (they do have 18 in total, so it'll take me a while to build up the collection) and have heard nothing but good things about their live performances. Plus, the record label that was granting me the pass was Ipecac and, well, you know how I feel about them.

My boyfriend and I were running late and by the time we showed up to the Rickshaw Theatre in the skeeziest part of town (um, Main and Hastings), there was already quite a line-up going into the venue.


We were meeting our friends B and C... I had originally bought tix to see the Melvins before I knew I got a pass, so I now had tickets to give away. Little did I know that the show was sold-out - I coulda scalped those bitches!

Anyway, I made my way up to the security guy at the door and asked where I should go if I'm on the guest list. He lifted up the rope for me - I then threw my friends a "HA!" look - and I walked right in.

Of course, inside was a different story. Turns out I was NOT on the guest list at all. I ended up talking to the promoter (I think), who was in charge of that sort of thing and convinced him that I should be there. I mean, I should have. I showed him the email from the original person and blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, thank god for having internet on your phone and all that because I got my photo pass from him, I got myself and my bf in for free and all was good. (I emailed my boss straight after to tell him what happened but he said "that happens sometimes").

Then came the scary part... acting like a photographer. I could see the rail at the front and then where the photo pit was set up between that and the stage. I gingerly approached one of the security guys, making sure he could see my pass.

"Is this where I take photos?"

He gave me that wry 'first day on the job?' look and said "First three songs only."

That was the same deal for the concert in Finland that I'm covering... makes sense. That way I get don't block the view of the crowd for that long and I can also enjoy the show.

Anyway, I knew what I had to do, so I settled back with my friends and waited for the opening band Totimoshi to come on. The Rickshaw is a very skeezy throwback to a makeshift venue from the 1990's. There's a balcony up top, the ground is concrete (perfect for washing away blood... and, er, beer), the bars are a do-it-yourself type deal... and they didn't even serve beer since the beer truck never came. Yup, highballs for everyone. Is hard liquor the smartest bet to have at a rock show? Probably not. Also, is it smart to have the bar adjacent to the mosh pit? Probably not.

Also, there was no merch because most of it was seized at the border or something, and half of the venue has crooked, stained theatre chairs. Which is actually kind of good if you don't feel like standing.

Anyhoo, I was standing in line, talking with my friend B about covering festivals in the future for the website, and all that, and I could see some guy was watching me out of the corner of my mind. He looked like most of the people in the place - maybe 40, faded band tee-shirt, jeans and a long mane of hair that he's probably had since the Melvins began (in the 80's).

He eyed the photo pass I stuck on my boob (at least I think he was eyeing the pass).

"Heeeey man, do you like, KNOW the Melvins?"

"Uh no, I'm just here to take pictures"

"But like are you going to see them later backstage?"

"No, probably not."

"Can you give them this photo?"

He passes me a picture of him posing with the Melvins. I smile the half-dead expression on Buzzo's face. I hand it back to him.

"That's cool. But I don't think I'll be seeing them."

He nods, finally getting that I am NOT with the band.

Two seconds later, Coady (one of the drummers... there are two drummers) comes out of the backstage area anyway and the guy was able to stop him and personally hand him the photograph anyway. I could see Coady took it, humouring him obviously, but it was neat to see how relaxed the whole set-up of this show was.

Anyway, show starts with the opener's Totimoshi. I've never heard of this San Fran trio before but their bassist is female which is pretty cool. And they did sound very sludgy grungey and melvin's esque. Not exactly my cup of tea though - Melvins do it better.

And do it better they did. And for a loooong time. Felt like they played for at least two hours, with an intermission too. And I didn't realize until afterwards how stupid I was for NOT bringing earplugs.

I digress though... the scary part was when they first started and I was like, OK GO TIME. I nodded at the security guy who gave me the "three songs" gesture, the walked into the photo pit.

I totally felt like a fraud. There were two other guys in the pit with much better cameras than I. Though my pass said I could be there, close enough to lick the drums, resting my arms on the actual stage, I didn't feel like I should be.

I also felt bad for blocking the view of some of the people in the audience but they didn't seem to mind. One guy, who resembled Drew Carrey, took off his hat and placed it on my head as I was taking photos... I guess he was hitting on me? Luckily I took it in stride... I probably did look out of place. A few times I caught Buzzo staring down at me with a "interesting..." look on his face. I think I got that in one of the photos.

Unfortunately the show was very dark save for red lights and red lights are murder to film... it didn't even matter how good your camera was. It might be crisper and clearer with a faster lens but even then, your photos will turn out red. As a result, I couldn't use a lot of my shots and the ones I could use I had to turn to Black and White.

My BEST PHOTOS are on the review, so remember to check it out HERE - and PLEASE DEAR READERS... if you like it, re-tweet it or Facebook "like" it or leave a comment. Keep me working!!!!

After the show, the promoter of the concert came up to me and gave me his business card and told me to send him some pics (i should get on that!).

Then I made my way to the stage where other eager beavers were trying to get drumsticks, set lists, pics, etc.

Even the security guy got Coady's broken pair but all i wanted was the set list. Luckily a guy there took a picture of it with his cell phone and said he'd email it to me.

I gave him my business card and somehow we got to talk about Faith No More. With his long hair and charming demeanor, this guy actually totally reminded me of Mike Patton.. circa The Real Thing...

But not in spandex. Anyway, turns out he went to the Warfield too to see them (just the Monday show) and when Patton stage dived, the dude got his butt to his face. I got his foot so we swapped stories and I think we high-fived each other everytime we had a "ME TOO!" moment. That's the thing with Faith No More fans... there aren't many of us (least where I'm from) so when we meet each other it's like instant friend.

But I also realized that people seem very interested in the blonde camerawoman at rock shows... it's a fantastic place to meet people if you äre single. But alas my boyfriend was waiting patiently in the seats for me to stop schmoozing.

Well, that's the story with that. Figured I might as well write about these experiences so I don't forget down the road.

Hope you are all having a great day. I'm in Helsinki, Finland as I type this and it's a gorgeous heat wave here as it seems to be everywhere else in the world.

Even my fair city Vancouver is experiencing very hot conditions... check out the sunset photos from my roof just before I left!

I guess it's good that I am here and my bf is back in Vancouver... our apartment gets extremely hot in the summer, and the bed is probably a lot cooler :P


♥ Cara Mia ♥ said...

that's awesome! your blogging skills are continuing to grow :) great post!
fave a fabulous weekend!

cara mia

Fashion Court said...

love those photos in black and white! also, that view from your pool looks amazing...have fun in finland, can't wait to hear more of your adventures :o)

LyddieGal said...

Wow, what an amazing night!
Your job definitely has some awesome perks, and your photos are great.

Chic on the Cheap

Couture Carrie said...

Those last two pics are exquisite, darling!
And I love the B&Ws as well!


Tracy said...

You photos are great!! Wow, what exciting work you get to do--very cool.
You got to interview Anna Paquin?! Love her! You are so lucky to be able to travel around so much ;) Would love to see Finland, but would settle for Portland at this point, lol :D

Patricia Snook said...

Oh girl, what an awesome job you have! I love these images and your writing style is so good!

You've got an utterly gorgeous blog over here, I can't wait to head about more of your adventures.

Have a great week ahead


A.Co said...

Wow!!! Adventures much?

You've interviewed Anna Paquin - thats pretty cool, esp. now!!

And no, we aren't married yet, but you need a license in order to HAVE a wedding ceremony. Once we have the ceremony, we and the witnesses will sign off and so will the person performing the ceremony, THEN we'll be married (August 20th) :)

A.Co @ A.Co est. 1984

Glitter Scrubs said...

I read a bunch of your reviews and you're such a natural at it! Writing articles, interviews, etc is totally your thing and you do it well :)
HOW IS FINLAND?! I want to hear tons about it :)

PS: It's absolutely cooking here. I'm sure your apartment is a toasty 100+ degrees. poor mike! lol

Kass said...

I would love to get into band photography, but alas I am too lazy to get out there and ask lol.

Sounds like it was an awesome night :)