Sunday December 5, 2004

Guns 'N' Pilots (aka Velvet Revolver) rock The Arena At Gwinnett.


Today was semi-hectic. How 'bout that?

After lunch, I dashed out to the theatre to do some cast photos for Amanda's play. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the matinee began. At least I got to see both evening performances. The first night was much better than the second but hey, ain't that always the way?

When I got finished with that, I had to head on out to Gwinnett for the 99X Mistletoe Jam. This year, they had a really cool, interesting lineup. It was much better than the years when they'd have Adema, Fuel and all those 3rd tier post-grunge acts out.

The night tonight started off at 5:30 with Keane. The singer's got a great voice and the band (while limited musically) is still pretty good at what they do. I enjoyed the 15 minutes or so that I saw of 'em. The Music was second. They're a Brit-favorite of mine. I haven't heard the new CD yet but the songs sound pretty much the same. So far, the lighting was terrible. The shots I have are almost useless. The lighting is amateurish at best...very much like a dive bar, all reds, oranges and such. I've a feeling it's by decree of the headliners. It'll make them look bigger and better if only they have the real lighting. Jimmy Eat World came next. I've never been a fan of theirs but they did a pretty well balanced set and managed the crowd well. Nothing great, nothing bad. Just kind of there. It was also the slot that was most like the old, not as cool 99X.

Muse came next. I don't even know how to describe how unbelievable their set was. All the words end in "ic" though. They were apocalyptic, cathartic, monolithic, gigantic, seismic... It was incredible. They opened with "Apocalypse Please." It was clear that this audience had never heard of them. I've actually seen them before but they were never this powerful. This is one of the only performances that has given me chills this year. "Time Is Running Out", "Butterflies And Hurricanes," "Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist," "The Small Print"...they did all of the best songs from the new record which is without a doubt the best rock album of '04 (I know it was released in the UK in '03 but the US didn't get it 'til last spring). Muse may be the most emotionally charged and musically powerful band I've ever seen. I was completely floored by it. The biggest surprise was the audience reaction. Muse is really progressive, melodic and super heavy. I couldn't have imagined that STP/GNR audiences would get it. But they were that good. Unbelievable!

After too long a delay (perhaps not wanting to follow Muse), Velvet Revolver charged out. It was all there, the smoking grooves of Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum sounded as much like Guns 'N' Roses as ever. Stone Temple Pilots' front man Scott Weiland is still one of the best show men in rock and roll. The problem is that Velvet Revolver's songs aren't strong enough to overwhelm the novelty of the Guns 'N' Pilots phenomena. "Fall To Pieces" and "Set Me Free" were probably the only two that stood up to their collective history. As proof, when Duff launched into G'N'R's "It's So Easy" the place went ballistic. And rightly so. Weiland's voice sounded almost just like Axl's and the band rode the song harder than I ever could've imagined. I'd forgotten just how sleazy, punk and out of control the Appetite-era was. This was a quick reschooling. They followed it with STP's misogynist anthem "Sex Type Thing." This got an even bigger response from the crowd. If VR could've kept up this energy (or had songs that could match up with the intensity), they would've given Muse a run for the money tonight. "Sex Type Thing" was much better (with its "War Machine" riff, KISS should still get royalties from it) that I ever saw STP do it. 2 guitars really make it cook. Plus, they added a section at the end where it sped up more and more. Super intense. Even a cool encore of "Mr. Brownstone" couldn't top it. If VR spend a little more time writing material for their follow up album, they really could be rock and roll contenders for the modern day kings of hard rock throne...

But they still wouldn't be able to touch Muse...




Saturday December 4, 2004

The 40 Watt staff, Jucifer and I collaborate for the club's 2004 Christmas card.

Today was relatively slow moving. I've decided to not go shoot Marilyn Manson's show tonight at The Tabernacle. I'm just burned out and tomorrow's going to be another long night. Besides, Amanda's Mom is in town to see the play and I should be around to see her if I can.

At 4:30, I had to go out to the 40 Watt Club to shoot a staff portrait for their '04 Christmas card. It was a very difficult shoot. Trying to get all of those people in one shot is hard enough. When they're at different distances, heights and in iffy indoor club lighting, it's even harder to get them all sharp and capture some personality. As it turns out, if I hadn't gotten that new flash on Thursday, I never would've been able to pull it off. I had to use fill flash and stand on a ladder to get this shot. But I did it. It worked. I hope they're happy with it. I'm satisfied.

After that, I drove back across town to catch up with Amanda and her Mom at Shoki. We had a not-so-relaxed dinner before heading out to the second evening performance of the play. I had to miss the matinee today to edit but I'm going to go out tonight and video tape it for them. No one else had planned on doing it. Like I said yesterday, you shouldn't put so much work into something for it to just disappear. So I'll at least document it for them.

At the curtain call, Amanda's Mom threw a bouquet of flowers to her. I'm glad I could be there to support one more night of the play and I'm really happy that Amanda has family that can and will come to see her like that.






Friday December 3, 2004

Amanda brings the drama in The Last Christmas Carol at Athens Community Theatre.


Obviously, today was spent editing the mass of pics from last night.

In the evening, I went to see Amanda's stage debut. She had the female lead in the Athens Community Theatre production of The Last Christmas Carol. With a title like that, I figured it would be kind of difficult to watch, regardless of how good the acting was. I was wrong. It was actually pretty funny and a little dark. Sure, it was one of your typical heartwarmers but it worked. I can't say how strange it was to see Amanda in a musical. Now I've seen her on the big screen in a theatre I paid to get into and in a crowded auditorium. The audience was really into it. Especially when "Blue Christmas" (aka The Ghost Of Christmas Never) took the stage. Good stuff. But plays are weird. They're not tangible. Amanda and the cast have worked for months to put this thing together but by the weekend, it'll be gone. That's strange to me. I know concerts and my performances are ephemeral but there's always another one to build on the one before. Acting in a short run play just comes and goes so fast. I have to admire all the work they put into it for so little return, though. I'm glad I got to see opening night. I'm proud of Amanda. She said she was going to do it and she did. She did it well and she got the lead in her first play. Not bad at all...





Thursday December 2, 2004


Ludacris arrives at the CD release party for his Red Light District.


Today was spent "running around in circles and squares." I had to track down and buy a speedlight / flash for the camera (and some new memory). Before noon, I'd spent about $500 on new equipment. It sucked but this year I've been lucky. I haven't made much profit this year from photography but every time I invest in an upgrade, I make the money back almost instantly. Now I have just about everything I'll need. '05 should see a pretty healthy profit margin if I keep getting better and better assignments. Heck, even if I just keep doing what I'm doing now it'll be alright.

I had to leave in the early evening to head out to Gwinnett. My plan was to photo Gavin DeGraw and Duran Duran, then head over to Ludacris' party. I shot Gavin with no problem (thanks, Cheryl and Chris for adding me to his list). Then Duran Duran decided to run late. As much as I hated to, I had to leave and get on the road to the "secret location" for the other shoot. The party was in The Foundry At Puritan Mills. (I can say it now 'cause it's over.) It was f-f-f-freezin' by the time I got there. Of course, armed security had me stand outside for about 45-minutes before they took pity on me. Then I walked the red carpet myself to get to the party. When I got in, there was booze and strippers everywhere. I ran into Rick Diamond (who was exclusively shooting the party - we could only shoot the red carpet arrivals). He directed me to the red carpet. By then, Atlanta Falcons and Hawks were arriving. I didn't know who they were. I just shot when everyone else did and asked for names later. I remember shooting Ludacris (duh), Jermaine Dupri, Pastor Troy, Disturbing Tha Peace, Kid Capri, some of Lil' Jon's Eastside Boyz, Killer Mike, Sleepy Brown, Katt Williams and other local celebs. The only one I missed outright was Evander Holyfield. I turned around and he was standing beside me. By the time I got in shooting mode, he'd already gone in.

You know what? Turning around and seeing Evander Holyfield without thinking it's odd has reminded me of just how odd my life is on occasion.

Truthfully, it was actually a boring gig (even though the party was raging behind me). It was also much easier than I thought once I got a grip on how to (kind of) use the new flash. It's even easier than a live shoot. The pay's better, too. What a concept!

I got out of there about 1:40 a.m. Later, Rick Diamond told me that the cops shut down the party at 2. Just in time...




Wednesday December 1, 2004



Well, still catching up. I got last week's diary is Concert Shots. As it's still a over a month behind, "updated" is indeed a relative term.

In the late afternoon, Retna assigned me to go shoot the CD release party for Ludacris' upcoming Red Light District. That's enough to panic me. First off, I've never done that kind of thing before. Secondly, I'm supposed to shoot Duran Duran's one-off non-tour show at Star 94's Christmas show tomorrow. I've been looking forward to it for months. Thirdly, I don't have the equipment I need for this! My flash will cast a nasty shadow and render the pics either unusable or (at least) unprofessional. Of course, if I turn it down, they might not assign me other big shoots. It's a quandary, indeed.

I'm on the list for Ludacris' exclusive party. How odd! Now I've gotta find a way to handle this!




Tuesday November 30, 2004



Ah, the familiar feel of exhaustion. I'm used to it I guess. It would be nice to be refreshed, though. Maybe next week I'll get a chance to feel that again.

Today was my typical uploading and editing day.

I also found out that Entertainment Weekly has used some of my portraits that I took about 3 weeks ago of The Futureheads. Good. So that was worthwhile I guess. I drove 5 hours to get to that shoot. I picked up the issue with the little interview with them that they used a shot for. They also used a different one of my pics with their album review. You can see that one online. Just click here. Notice the ugly shadow of my lens at the bottom. And their faces are too contrasty. I didn't really know how to use that camera yet. This is when I found out I need another lens before I use the flash for a shoot again.

By the way, The Futureheads rock. They're (in my opinion) the best of the '80s retro revival bands (along with The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, etc). The main difference is that The Futureheads sound authentic and not retro. Very '79. One of the best albums of the year. Check it out.

You can also see my Scissor Sisters pics (in tiny form) at Wire Image. Just go there and type "Sister Sisters" into the search engine.





Monday November 29, 2004

Jake Shears & Ana Matronic of Scissor Sisters open their U.S. tour in Atlanta.

Enough already. You know what I did during the day. Let's jump straight to the evening.

Frank and I went out to Atlanta to see Scissor Sisters. Again, I shot it for WireImage. That's a couple of shoots for them in one week. Cool.

VHS Or BETA opened the show. I never realized how cool they are. They're boring as paint drying to watch but they music's really good. It's basically arty disco a la The Cure or something.

When the Scissor Sisters hit the stage, it became a homophobes worst nightmare. "I'm going to sing a song for someone I really", smiled Jake Shears (whose Southern family sat in the balcony beside Frank and I. They occasionally looked shocked but mostly delighted). The Scissor Sisters flaunted their sexuality and filled the club with flash and glitter. "Hot-lanta, Gorgeous" is what Ana Matronic kept calling the town. As for the music, it was great to see a band who can actually play dance music. They mixed Bowie-era guitars with Elton John / George Michael vocals and Ana and Jake really knew how to entertain a crowd. What a show! There was no way to know this was the opening night of the tour. It was already perfect. And you just can't beat their Bee Gees meets Frankie Goes To Hollywood version of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb."

Click here to check out last week's assault with Drive-By Truckers and The Hives.