Live on the Green: Being Off the Green

I’ve been to Live on the Green three times in all. My first time was last year as a freshman and my was it wonderful. Naturally, I returned this year and went to the first show I could – Head and the Heart. However, I was most excited for Cage the Elephant. While I imagined myself watching from a spot close to the barriers, carrying crowd surfers, and fighting for room to breath, I took on a very different perspective as a photographer backstage instead.

Live on the Green through a different lens
Live on the Green through a different lens

The opportunity arose through the Vanderbilt Hustler. I spent most of my summer exploring the world of photography and was interested in joining the photo staff for the school newspaper. Upon seeing the availability of shooting (taking photos) Live on the Green the Thursday Cage the Elephant was playing, I immediately volunteered. And just like that, I had backstage passes to what was bound to be an incredible show.

One fun fact I learned about concert photography is that in most cases, once a set goes on photographers are only allowed to stay in the “pit” (the space between the barriers and the stage) for the first three songs until they are escorted out. I got there just in time for Johnnyswim. One thing that I noticed as a photographer was the movement of the musicians. We are usually so focused on the sound they make, but their stage presence is so incredibly important. I suppose that some musicians make it look natural, but I could tell that they are particular in how they stand, hold their instruments, and where they move.

Delta Spirit, the next band up, was a rock band and adhered to their own form of rhythm. They were a bit more show-y than the acoustic Johnnyswim and the lighting and motion reflected this. As the night went on, photographing the singers became more difficult as night fell and lighting became more difficult. However, I noticed that the most striking pictures I took were of the people in motion – frozen in time with guitar in hand or holding that high note on the mic. It became all the more magical.

Finally, Cage the Elephant went on. As fantastic as they are live, they were a nightmare to shoot. One could say that the better the stage presence of a band (engaging with the audience, moving around the stage, immersing themselves in the music) the more difficult they are to photograph. The lead singer was all over the place and ended up crowd surfing, jumping on the guitarist, and going through various stages of stripping. But wow what a show. The energy was like nothing I had ever seen. Having to capture these moments of insanity and excitement made me realize just how much work goes into performance. Playing music is one thing, but stealing the spotlight is a gift that so few people possess.

The craziness that ensued.
The craziness that ensued.

Moral of the story is next time you’re at a concert, don’t just pay attention to the sounds. You could do that on your own computer or iPod. Instead, make sure to also focus on their expressions, their movement along to their own music, and how they react to a swarm of people chanting their name. What you see may surprise you.

My favorite shot of the night
My favorite shot of the night

Bonnaroo 2014- The Highlights

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My attendance a few weeks ago at the strange 4-day escape from reality called Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival marked my fifth year at the event. Early on every year the same doubtful thought runs through my mind: Why do I continue year after year to put myself through this? Sometime between my first use of the less than gleaming porta-potties and the realization that yes, I would indeed be this sweaty and disheveled for the next four days, that moment of panic comes.

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John and Jacob Brought the Dancing Shoes: Concert Review

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“You better dance with us, even if it’s bad” John and Jacob said to a friend and I before the show. Apparently the whole crowd overheard this as swing dancers were in full motion by the first note of their vibey, fun music and they didn’t show any signs of slowing down. As the night went on, John and Jacob decided to share a little secret with us. Having an album all recorded and ready, they were only missing a release date. They decided what better way to release an album than exclusively to this Nashville crowd that night. The album is not available to anyone other cities or states right now except Nashville showing John and Jacob’s love and thankfulness for the supportive Nashville crowd.

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Would you like some Irish with that?: Kodaline w/ LP

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It has been on my bucket list since the beginning of my first semester – watch an awesome show at the Exit/In. That may be redundant, considering the bands that come to the venue are more likely than not, extremely talented. Some of them have been lucky enough to have their names written on a large wall behind the bar or on the grand mural outside the front door. Well, I would argue that the show I went to, Kodaline with the fantastic opener LP, should be put up next on that wall of fame.

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Live Every Week Like it’s Snark Week

http://www.chicagonow.com/lists-that-actually-matter/2013/08/work-hard-play-hard-snarky-puppys-michael-league-on-freedom-dedication/
http://www.chicagonow.com/

Earlier this week, Nashville was lucky enough to host one of the most innovative and creative bands in the business right now. Combining elements of jazz, electronica, rock, and everything in between, Snarky Puppy attracted probably one of the most demographically diverse crowds I have ever seen at a concert. It was amazing to see this band have such a crowd equally invested into their music, and taking a closer look at their work will show you how this was possible.

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Rocking the Ryman: Neutral Milk Hotel

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Back as a sophomore in high school I came across a very peculiar album cover that had could have well been a classic art piece, if not for the strange bread-like object that had replaced the girl’s face in the artwork. I decided not to judge an album by its cover and went to listen to a couple songs. It was unlike anything I had heard before – eerie, dreamy, lyrically ambiguous, but somehow very beautiful. It was none other than the album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel. I would never have guessed that a little over three years later I would watch the band live after their indefinite hiatus.

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Between the Buried and Me at Cannery Ballroom: Out of this World

Between the Buried and Me, probably the best progressive metal band around today.
Between the Buried and Me, probably the best progressive metal band around today.

I have a fairly eclectic taste in music, and it shows when I think about my five favorite artists.  Four of those are Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beatles and (the most recent addition) Kanye West.  All revered throughout their community of contemporaries and listeners, all well-known to the general public.

The fifth artist?  Between the Buried and Me.  Never heard of them?  Not surprising, seeing as their genre is progressive death metal.

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Pluck All Your Silly Strings: Neutral Milk Hotel, in Chattanooga, TN (10/19/13)

Neutral Milk Hotel in 1998. From left to right: Jeff Mangum, Scott Spillane, Julian Koster, Jeremy Barnes.

 

This is covert stuff. I’ve been waiting in line for 45 minutes to attend a show for which their are no real tickets — it’s all electronic, so as to prevent reselling and scalping. Now, the throng of diehards here to see a band that died 15 years ago, is herded into single-file lines. Women’s bags are checked. Men are given full-body pat downs. We’re all warned several times: no cameras, no video recorders, no audio recorders, no cell phone videos or pictures. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to file for Level 3 Security Clearance. People talk in hushed tones. What is inside Track 29, in Chattanooga, isn’t meant to get out. Inside is an experience, ephemeral, to be stored in one’s mind and not one’s computer. It’s like the nineties. Entering this venue is entering a time machine. This is not surprising, considering that the band we’re all here to see famously sang “I wish’d I could save her in some sort of time machine.” Everyone thought Neutral Milk Hotel was dead; perhaps they were saved in that very same time machine.

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