The Black Heart Procession at Rock N Roll Hotel
I lived in San Diego from 200-2003 and saw The Black Heart Procession several times while I was there. I also picked up a few albums (2, Three, Amore Del Tropico) so I've certainly heard their music often enough over the last 17 years. Yet somehow I never once saw this band in my photographer days. I guess they dropped off my radar, though I hear they haven't been touring as much lately either. Whatever the reason I am definitely glad that I finally got around to photographing them at least this one time.
Oh, and yes there was a boxing match (of sorts) in the middle of the show. A full set of these guys is a pretty strong dose of pathos so I guess they figured a comedy break was in order. See, The Black Heart Procession's music is emotional. Not "Emo" mind you. Emo is serious weak sauce compared to this. TBHP play some of the saddest music in the rock-n-roll genre and at its best, some of the most real as well. And they still sound good live! So go see them!
Clearance at DC9
Welcome to the world of Zero Glam Rock. Clearly rock and roll but rather chill, Clearance are so down-to-earth they kind of reminded me of 70s Southern rock. Perhaps "Ramblin' Man" is some part their musical history but the jangly guitars and nonplussed vocal style put them solidly in the realm of modern rock, which is to say 90s modern rock. Goes well with Yo La Tengo or maybe Parquet Courts?
Fiona Silver at Slash Run
I went with black and white for these shots because I wanted to take some classy shots of Fiona Silver, like I was photographing a Jazz artist. Her music is actually more of a sultry Soul (and dang does she have the voice for it!) with more than a bit of rock-n-roll intensity, some surf riffs here and there, and bluesy lyrics. I figure that for this type of music the voice is the key. It's that voice which pulls the audience in and and makes them feel the artist's passion and pain. So I figured I would try portraying the artist as a very serious artiste, at least that was my concept. Yes, apparently I'm also trying to be a very serious artiste now whose photo sets have concepts.
To be fair the tricky lighting at Slash Run also had a little something to do with my chosing black and white. The lights behind the stage are brighter than the ones in front and the ones in front cycle from blue to green to red to black. Yeah, they turn off sometimes which definitely cost me a few shots (grrr). On the other hand those metallic streamers and Christmas lights do look pretty nice even in black and white. I'll learn from this, and I got to hear an amazing singer and her band (who are also quite good) for the first time.
Copes at Rock N Roll Hotel
The Brodown Throwdown lowdown continues with the band Copes from Baltimore. Copes remind me of the more pop-oriented 90's indie rock bands. While they might have hints of grunge and punk influence their style is more punchy and upbeat. They're obviously having a blast on stage and even their covers seemed like they were chosen to be crowd-pleasers. Still, it's not right to call them a "pop" band. They're clearly on the rock side of the pop/rock divide. They're just close to the line, maybe so they can stick one toe across the line every now and then, that sort of thing
Teen Mortgage at Rock N Roll Hotel
I caught Teen Mortgage at something called the "Brodown Throwdown". That has to be the worst name for a show ever but it is a nice (free!) showcase of new-ish local bands so I'm done complaining about that.
Teen Mortgage are one of those bands who sound garage-y but not like 60's rock, kind of punk but they're obviously not punks, and with a more than a little grunge influence. The resulting sound is somewhere in the the vicinity of Thee Oh Sees and Bass Drum of Death. It's the kind of music which is energetic without getting totally out of control.
They're less than a year old, or rather the band is less than a year old, and they're still a bit sloppy, which is to say that the musicians in the band are a bit sloppy but not like 1-year olds are. When the guitarist broke a string during Is It and they just sort of said "whatever" and finished the set with a broken string... that sort of thing. The songs are definitely solid, though. Best to think of them as a new band which is off to a good start and should keep going and write more songs, which is of course exactly the sort of thing they're showcasing at the Brodown Throwdown.