It’s nearing the end of the year, or if you’re into it, the end of the world as we know it. Since I’ve attended many shows this year(30+) and taken photographs, I thought I’d share with you a re-cap of my most favorite shows from 2012. I am going to list them in the order in which I saw them, because picking a favorite is not easy out of what I’ve chosen. Here we go!
1. 311 Day 03/10-03/11 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas NV
What can I say?? I’m a 311 die-hard. This event was one of the most awesome concerts I’ve had the opportunity to witness. Yes it cost a lot for tickets, and yes, I was bummed I didn’t get floor tickets. But, traveling to Vegas knowing I’m not only going to see my favorite band play TWO nights in a row AND I get to see my friends from around the country made it worth it. Two days before leaving for Vegas, I caught 311 in Wendover NV as well. Met some fans who we actually followed and kept running into at gas stations along the way from Utah to Vegas. That’s one of the things that makes 311 unique. Their fans can easily become your family(literally, people have met through the 311 website and are now married with kids). When I got word that I got to photograph the band on 311 Day, that only amped up the show for me. With setlists that exceeded 30 songs per night, and a stage to rival the likes of Rob Zombie, 311 put on a show that went down in history. Thousands of people singing their hearts out, a band that loves its fans(truly….they honor fans by using fan art, our photos, etc, and always give credit) and a venue to fit us all. What an incredible two days.
2. GWAR 04/10/12 Saltair, Magna UT
When the opportunity dropped into my lap to go to GWAR, two things happened: I got nervous, and I got a raincoat for my camera. I’d never seen this band, nor listened to anything of theirs past what I heard over the years randomly. I also heard that they were less than polite to photographers. So naturally, shooting this show seemed like a good idea to me. What I saw and experienced made this show one that I will tell stories about forever. I had a poncho for myself, but used it to wrap my camera bag and hid it out-of-the-way. I was glad, because I got targeted immediately by a torso that had just had the head cut off on stage. The fake blood spurting out of the neck stump went directly into my mouth, eye and into my lens(yay for camera ponchos!)as the torso bent over and drained into my face. Yep, that’s normal. It didn’t phase me and honestly I got right over the fear of it. GWAR continued to dismantle people, creatures and Snooki on stage that night. Guts, blood, parts…..a mess. But the thing that amazed me was their ability to play instruments and sound good while all that was going on. A spectacle but very, very well produced. I will definitely take the time to bask in the live horror that is GWAR if they come back to Utah. Which they should, seeing as how there were plenty of flesh-hungry weirdos that were there(and a guy who literally threw his 7-year old into a mosh pit).
3. Primus 06/19/12 Rail Event Center, SLC UT
Legend. How could I not go to Primus? Playing their new album, “Green Naugahyde” in its entirety AND a set of our favorites as well? Sign me up. While the crowd warmed up with the “Primus Sucks” chant, I readied my lens. I stood in front of a stage with red lights, two giant astronauts with moving, living faces(awesome stage production), and my hands were shaking. In a moment, I was standing less than a foot from Les Claypool. Legend. Innovator. As I stated, they played two sets. The first was a mix of hits, “Frizzle Fry”, “Pudding Time” etc. The second, was what I would call a trippy date with Pink Floyd, but on more acid, with more spinning things. “Green Naugahyde” is very different, but still very Primus. I think it was best it was played as a whole, and it fits as a piece that I feel is meant to be listened to from start to finish. But as a gift at the end, Primus encored with “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”. Dream come true. Capped off the night with meeting the band, and getting my Miscellaneous Debris EP signed, as well as my Green Naugahyde vinyl.
4. Band of Horses 07/26/12 SLC UT Twilight Concert Series
We here in Utah have an outstanding summer concert series for the last 15+ years. It has nothing to do with those stupid vampire movies/books, and it’s called Twilight Concert Series. This year, they spoiled the hell out of us. We got a visit from Indie(yeah I said it) rockers Band of Horses. With songs you know from popular shows (The Funeral) and gentle hits like “No One’s Gonna Love You”, this band’s live performance wins over both the casual listener and the uber fan. I had the pleasure of being in the photo pit for this, and I was like a giddy school girl. I have listened to this band now for a few years, and it delighted me to hear them live. This was one of the larger crowds that turned out for the series that also featured artists including Nas, and Tinnie Tempah. The energy was amazing, and the crowd was singing along word for word. One of the summer shows not to be missed.
5. Iron Maiden 08/01/12 USANA, SLC UT
You read that correctly. I went to Iron Maiden, and GWAR this year. I would not consider myself a hard/metal rocker. But I know better than to miss Iron Maiden on a tour to my piddly state. When Iron Maiden adds you to their tour stops, you go. And the crowd did. This was a very interesting mix of folks. I think I saw at least three pregnant women(two with broken legs) and a pregnant stage tech(also with a cast, hoisting her belly up a speaker stand no less). Mullets, 80’s leggings, and lots of black clothes. But, the thing that caught my attention was the many children that were out and about. This was a family affair. Many parents were seen passing on the musical tradition of a good ol’ rock show, and this made me have a little more hope in humanity. Instead of running to a Bieber show, little metalheads were having a great time watching the flames shoot out of the stage, and Bruce Dickinson leap about like a spring chicken(to quote the tour manager haha). The guys are in prime condition and threw down the gauntlet of rock music. The show was amazing, well-played, and for guys pushing 60+, doing the splits was pretty awesome. I am not allowed to share the photos, as there was a waiver, but the best way to see a show is to GO.
6. Rob Zombie/Marilyn Manson 10/01/12 USANA, SLC UT
I went to this show as a fan of Marilyn Manson. I like Rob, but I like Marilyn more. I missed out the last time he was here and I was not going to miss him this time. Marilyn Manson opened for Rob Zombie, and now that I look back, that is just fine. I had excellent seats for this show, and no photo pass(boo) for Manson. He had a crazy stage with several changing sets, costumes, effects, etc. He also blew some “coke” onto the audience during “The Dope Show”, which was backlit with a large sign that read “DRUGS”. From pope costumes to glittery gloves and sword-shaped mic holders, Manson, for me, delivered.
The star of this tour though, was Rob Zombie. Meeting him before the show was an added bonus. Skinny, polite, sweet I’d even say. He hugged me tightly and won me over for sure. Nothing like the man who came out of a robot’s chest that was shooting flames. Yes, I’d say it was about 12 feet of robot, and Rob Zombie emerged and took his place behind his mic of bones. The man is a talented showman. I was blown away at his pace, his talent, his band, and his stage. Rob interacted with the crowd, large inflated bouncing balls fell into the crowd during a song, pulp comics of vintage women played on screens that were part of the stage’s platforms, and Rob dominated the show. He walked off stage and came into the crowd and sang with people during a song. The theatrics do not mask a lack of anything for this group. They compliment the musical talent and experience that Rob’s band has, and this was a total delight. I did get photo access for this set and took some decent photos. GO SEE ROB ZOMBIE.
7. Deftones 10/17/12 In The Venue, SLC UT
Ch-ch-ch Chino. Again, one of those “do not miss” nights. Deftones came into Salt Lake City and owned it. I was talking to a stage hand who told me that they’d brought at least 3 semi trailers of sound gear, and so much of it that it wouldn’t fit the stage. I was more than amped for this show, and the crowd of sweaty people packed in on a mild October night, was pushing the capacity of what the place could hold. I was one of three people in the state lucky enough to get a photo pass for this. I was pretty damn blown away when Chino leaned into me and screamed into my face during a song. Nothing like that. The man is amazing. He also sweat on me, cause you know, we were close enough for that haha. The performance was killer, the sound amazing, the energy immense. My first Deftones show, and no way will it be the last.
8. Blue October 10/31/12 The Depot , SLC UT
Ok, this band took me by complete surprise. Yes, I knew who they were and their songs. But I have a rule. Never judge a band until you see them live(that even goes for country artists which I don’t usually like and yes, I’ve suffered through many country acts and some redeemed themselves). Blue October came into my town on Halloween and played a private “winner’s only” show for the local radio station. About 25 people were invited to see an acoustic performance by three members of Blue October, in a room that was part of The Living Planet Aquarium. This room is like a sunken ship, and that added to the beauty of what happened next. Singing four songs, Blue October’s Justin Furstenfeld got into my head. I wasn’t the only one; several people were silently crying and listening to him sing. The acoustic versions of The Ocean, Hate Me, Dirt Room, and a new song, are haunting. That’s the best way to put it. No matter what your life is like, these lyrics echo in you. It was something I haven’t had before, a deep connection to a total stranger. It felt like no one else was in the room. I don’t know how they did that, but all the people in the room got a personal show that day. A handshake, photo and autograph….sure. But what stuck with me is way more valuable than those tangible things that will burn or fade away. Blue October played a whole set later that night at The Depot that was also incredible, but nothing like a bare-bones set with just a guitar and some other strings. I was honored to have been there.
9. Cursive and Minus The Bear 11/06/12 The Depot, SLC UT
I’ll admit it, I’m not well-versed in Cursive’s catalog. But I knew a few songs and a friend of mine has been following them for years, so he encouraged me to go. When I realized that Minus The Bear was headlining, I was sold. Cursive commanded the stage with such force. I was truly analyzing what I was hearing and really enjoying watching the show. To me, they sounded like a fusion of B52’s, punk, and some swing rock. But each song was so different, and the time changes alone were enough to make any musician want to know “how’d they do that AND make it work?” . A great set indeed.
Now, Minus The Bear….just, DAMN. I couldn’t have been more excited to see these guys. The last time they came, they played an album in its entirety, and I was ready to hear some other tracks performed live. I was lucky enough to shoot the show as well. The lighting was amazing, the sound-even better. Soft yellows and greens and smoke, along with that signature MTB sound and a crowd that was unusually young I thought. That made me happy though, seeing that there are some young folks left that appreciate real music. I got to hear “Pachuca Sunrise”, which they actually did in an extended version and I did get some tears in my eyes. I love this band, and they are doing amazing things with their music. Capped off the night with meeting the band, and pulling some gang signs at their request in our photo. Good times, good show, and awesome live performance.
10. NOFX 12/08/12 The Complex, SLC UT
Ok. This was probably my first “real” punk rock show. This was a highly anticipated tour stop for this band, as they have not been to Utah since 2008. Luckily, I was sent into the surprisingly large photo pit to capture the first few songs. Also awesome, was the fact that we were in the “big” room at this venue, which held about 2500 people I’d guess. Either way, the place was packed and punk getup was everywhere you looked. People were extremely excited for this show. I’d been seeing people post about it for weeks on various social media networks, and heard people talking about it in passing. When Fat Mike and the boys took the stage, a guy immediately hopped the rail. Security was less than polite, slamming his head into my back and taking him to the ground. When Fat Mike called them out for being rough, the guy stood up and yelled “FAT MIIIIIIIKE” and then was escorted out. Fat Mike told Security to be nice and let him stay, and alluded to some butt raping joke…..but hey, it’s a punk show. Some highlights of the night were the insane jumping by Eric Melvin, drummer Erik Sandin sticking his tongue out at me, a dumbass fan putting his hat over a bright light and nearly setting it on fire(personally witnessed this and slapped his arm to get his attention when the hat was smoking), a plethora of beer cans being tossed, a series of racist jokes between Fat Mike and El Hefe(who was spotted “face timing” with his kiddo prior to the show) and the polite and rowdy fans screaming the words to every song in our faces. This show was SO fun to be a part of. I’d see them 10 more times. Even if they sucked. But they don’t. So put on your spikey jacket, spray up that mohawk, tie up your Docs and head out to this spectacle. Because you’ll have a damn good time.
All in all, this was a great year for shows in my state. I was blessed with a great job that allows me access to take photos, and it has given me so many experiences that I will never, ever forget. I am honored and happy to share those with you, and please enjoy the photos I managed to snap at these shows. Have a happy, apocalypse-free 2013. Be good to each other. Looking forward to sharing the shows with you!