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.
Bat Fangs at Rock N Roll Hotel
A Supergroup playing hard rock in the style of the late 70s-early 80s (aka the era of the Supergroup), Bat Fangs formed just about a year ago and are already super tight. This of course is the great thing about Supergroups, or at least the ones which aren't just a blatant cash grab which this one... obviously isn't. Take some experienced musiicans, perhaps who have jammed together before, and they can go from bad to badass in no time. Now all Bat Fangs need to do is record more than one single so everyone has not yet seen them play live can grasp just how thoroughly and consistently they rock.
Den-Mate at Milkboy ArtHouse
Den-Mate started out as a solo bedroom recording project but they've massively expanded their sound. Going from one musician to five (and fomerly six!) will do that, of course. Singer/songwriter Julia Hale has said in interviews that she wanted to add a punk quality to her sound. Well, she certainly did that... and has been known to fling herself into the audience and mosh with her fans.
Not that Den-Mate are s punk band mind you. They actually remind me of some of the darker New Wave bands, especially Siouxsie and the Banshees without the vocal harshness. While the songs are often contain foreboding lyrics and melancholy chords they also have enough pop catchiness and punk urgency that they feel upbeat on the whole. Think of The Smiths, who write surprisingly peppy songs about hitting children and the like, but less lackadaisical. Julia Hale is a better candidate for the American Morrisey than Lana Del Rey is, that's for sure.
I should add that once in a while Den-Mate performs solo. Confusingly "Den-Mate" can refer to either Julia Hale solo or the full band. Mostly she performs the same songs, though there are a few which are specific to the solo shows. That's quite a trick performing the same songs both on solo guitar and with a five piece and making it work so well both ways. I suppose it's not unheard of, though. Peter Murphy has a somewhat similar sound and he does acoustic shows, right?
Did you notice that I just compared Den-Mate to a bunch of British bands? I get the feeling they might be operating in the wrong market. Hey British people, do you want to be hipper than your friends? Of course you do that's why you're reading my blog (heh). Anyway, write up Den-Mate in one of your U.K. music rags and break this band in England and you will be the coolest person ever, I promise.