2014 was a pretty big growth year for me in concert photography. I got to do some awesome things for the first time and had an amazing time shooting shows. So, even though I have several dozen more shots and shows I love, and nearly every single shot at Riot Fest has a story, I humbly present these ten in no particular order.
Lydia Loveless @ Schubas
Lydia Loveless has become one of my favorite live performers. She is young and full of doubts, poetic and angsty, and comes across as an old soul who hasn’t quite grasped how intriguing and talented she is. Sometimes she is all edges and swagger and immediately after, awkward and vulnerable. She’s human and unafraid to show it. Every show is full of twists and turns and her band, including husband Ben Lamb, is right there with her all the way. Got to know Ben a little and shared a few drinks at a bar in Rock Island. She is great and deserves all the acclaim she has gotten this year. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with in 2015. Lydia just kicks ass in all kinds of ways. Ben is amazing just for keeping up.
Tom Fuller Band @ House of Blues
I met Tom Fuller through the Oak Park School of Rock, where his guitarist is an instructor. He is a great songwriter with a band of crack musicians. This year I shot shows at The Vic, House of Blues and Hard Rock Chicago, did a band photo shoot and shot promo photos of Tom downtown. Their new album uses many of my shots as cover art and promo shots appeared in British publications. Because of Tom I got to shoot in some clubs I hadn’t before. He’s a solid guy and the guys in the band are great. Thanks TFB.
TFB website: http://tomfullerband.com/
Chase Revisted @ Reggie’s Rock Club
Another School of Rock hookup. Dennis Johnson was the bass player with 70s jazz rock trumpet phenomenon Bill Chase. Chase died in a tragic plane crash. Johnson now teaches bass. He got the band back together for two nights of trumpet-fueled jams. Trumpet virtuoso Eric Miyashiro joined them from Tokyo and delighted a full house of trumpet players. Dennis laid down monster bass lines and the whole thing, as improbable as four-five trumpets in one band sounds, rocked the house down.
Lez Zeppelin @ North Halsted Market Days
All female Led Zeppelin cover band. That is all there is to say. Took a trio of teenaged girls along with me. The whole thing, Market Days characters included, was ridiculous from top to bottom. Fantastic. Lez Zeppelin blew it up. Period.
GWAR @ Rave Club, Milwaukee
And speaking of ridiculous, nothing compares to GWAR. They are hard to explain, their appeal to a middle-aged suburban dad even more so. I first encountered GWAR backstage at Riot Fest before their set where I met Brad the drummer and his wife Nicole. Shot the show from stage left. Will never be the same again. My blood-splattered photo of their audience still graces the band’s Facebook timeline. Anyway, got invited to the show in Milwaukee and once again had an amazing time. Even got to do a shoot with Nicole in the empty haunted pool in the basement of the club. They are photographic gold and their lunatic fans are as nice as they can be. If you see me in a hideous GWAR t-shirt or smoking one of the CiGWARS they gave me, don’t judge. For the third time, GWAR won the AV Club fan favorite video for their cover of West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys – http://www.avclub.com/video/gwar-covers-pet-shop-boys-211000.
GWAR @ Rave gallery: http://dtkindlerphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/GWAR-Rave/G0000vYKeXoKSMIg
Gogol Bordello @ Riot Fest Chicago
It was raining, hard. I was caked in mud. I had been on my feet all day. Gogol Bordello raged onto the stage. They don’t play a show, they pounce all over your musical soul and run wild all around the edges of what can only be described as gypsy punk. They are majestic and they spilled wine all over my head and made the crowd go wild. They are the wanderlust kings…..
Rise Against @ Riot Fest 2014
So, yes Riot Fest. I had the extreme pleasure of shooting the fest for Cobra Productions and Chris Andrew. Thanks Kyla Lombardo for foisting me on Chris. Got the Behind the Scenes assignment and an all-access pass. That meant I got to shoot on any stage at the Fest. My job was shooting the stuff the press couldn’t get from the pit. It was a glorious gig. The official photos on the Riot Fest website are mine.
You hope you’re worthy for a gig like that. I didn’t know if I was when I started. Decided to work my ass off. The first day was the worst with the rain and mud. After 12 hours on the ground slogging around, had one last chance to march a half mile across Humboldt Park to see Rise Against. My gear was soaked, I was cold and my feet hurt. I answered the call and slogged. Zach from Rise Against rewarded me with this moment. Sometimes you just gotta make the trip. Thanks Riot Fest for having me. Thanks Chris Andrew for trusting me. Thanks Canon for being so reliable. Thanks rain for bringing the drama and that strategic streak of light. Thanks Zach for jumping so damned high on a slippery stage.
Red Fang @ Wire
Heavy Metal rules. Shooting metal bands is way more exciting than most bands you could shoot. Andrew Bird is sweet and all, but a whistling fiddle player isn’t anywhere near as interesting to look at as long-haired dudes bathed in red light and smoke, banging their heads all over the place and shredding. It might get old, but as long as my Etymotic ear plugs hold out, I’ll opt for the metal shows please. Anyway, Red Fang was great at Wire. Plus, their videos are funny and they seem like decent guys. The crowd featured more tattooed, PBR tallboy drinking metal fans than Roosevelt Road had seen in a decade. Thanks Wire.
School of Rock Oak Park – 80s Prom
This image captures one tiny moment of a bunch of School of Rock stuff I’ve done, but it barely gives you an idea of how cool these shows are. A lot happens at every one. Young performers find their legs on stage for the first time, others push their limits, fun is had, rock and roll is laid down and everyone’s hope in the future restored. The School of Rock Oak Park is an amazing place to begin with. How cool is this room for example? All the staff and Amy and Bob the owners make it a safe and exciting place for all the young musicians trying on their rock star dreams.
School of Rock Convention Jam featuring Earl Slick
The School of Rock is also a corporation with schools all over the US. The owners of those schools got together in Chicago for a few days of convention stuff, but, true to form, the convention mostly happened in a cool little concert room in a hotel out by O’Hare. The highlight of Day One was a jam session featuring the instructors and owners. The whole thing roared so loud I felt sorry for the wedding reception down the hall. There were a couple of ringers too, former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain and former Bowie guitarist Earl Slick. The madman singing in this shot is Adam Mackintosh. He and Earl are knocking out Diamond Dogs. I had that song stuck in my head for months, and then after going to the Bowie show at the MCA this week, it may be there forever.
That’s my year in rock. I forgot to tell you about all the cool stuff that happened at the Fitzgerald’s American Music Fest and how cool The Handcuffs were opening for Lez Zeppelin or how when I posted a shot of Cowboy Mouth guitarist Matt Jones I found out I am friends with his sister Laura. Oh yeah and that time I met Greg and Shanti at Lolla and then saw them again while Greg was singing for The Bouncing Souls at Riot Fest with his pal CM Punk. Almost forgot talking politics with Anti Flag backstage before their set. Anyway, it was a fun year. Hoping to have another one just like it.