Arizona Music Phoenix

Kanye West concert

He is such a DIVA and I love it.  Here’s a man that knows how to play the game… Despite the fact that he didn’t grant any sort of media access to his concerts, the reviews I’ve seen are phenomenal. And with good reason. Who gives a shit if he talks smack about not getting awards, the media calling him out on his ego, etc., the man can put on an amazing show. Just  by looking at the stage, you could tell that this was HIS show… not Lupe Fiasco’s, or N.E.R.D’s or Rihanna’s, all of whom occupied maybe a third of the stage, the rest was covered by a curtain until the arrival of THE Kanye. I’m sure that’s how he planned it. He also made his band set up on a pit at the front of the stage. It had to be ALL his… there is no room for drummers, guitarists or keyboardists in Kanye world. It wasn’t just a concert, it was a show. He had a whole “storyline” about being stranded in another planet, weaving his songs into the plot while talking to Jane, his spaceship. He had lighting, smoke, giant screens, moving platforms… you name it.  

So, giant disclaimer here… our seats were wicked far above the stage, and I couldn’t bring my nice camera, so no good photos here. 

I could’ve heard a bit more of her. Her set seemed rushed, and she only sang part of some songs… Umbrellas were kept to a minimum.  

Just to give you an idea of what the whole stage looked like.

Loved Lupe Fiasco, I have a soft spot for his songs with Matthew Santos (The guy who sings “If you are what you say you are…” bit in Superstar). Not even close to getting a good photo of my Santos. Le sigh…

It definitely looked like a sold-out crowd at Arena… which is A LOT of people

This was just PART of the Kanye West fleet parked outside the arena. 

Sorry, no decent N.E.R.D photos. Did anyone else go see his show? What did y’all think? This was definitely I show worth paying for… even if the money goes to the Kanye West Foundation for Himself and His Ego. If he’s coming to a town near you, I recommend shelling out the extra cash and sitting somewhere in front, not to the side, of the stage.  

I’ve got some First Friday photos coming up! I’ve constantly harassed the photo editor to get me press passes for other concerts so hopefully soon… After all, I’m not really in the photo desk, so these are just favors. One of my photos from Megadeth was featured on our slideshow for Photos of the Week, which is always a good thing. I’ve started thinking about investing in more gear, something I stopped back when I gave up photography as a career in college. We’ll see… 

UPDATE: What it would have looked like if we had good seats… 

Arizona Mesa Music

Megadeth at Mesa Amphitheater

UPDATE: One more photo of Dave Mustaine that found on a second edit.

I was on assignment for the Arizona Republic this past Thursday, and got to shoot Megadeth’s performance during Gigantour’s stop here in the Valley. It was my first time shooting a show this big, with very restrictive media access. I got there almost at 8pm, just in time for Megadeth, who were the headlining band, but many photogs were there since 4pm. Boy, do I feel for them. From the back of the amphitheater, where we were instructed to wait until an appropriate representative from Livenation came and got us, the crowd of black-wearing, hard-metal fans was slightly intimidating.

The rain had been going for most of the day, and fans were wet, muddy, and probably anxious to see the main act. Once we were escorted to the front, those mega hard-core fans who were behind the barriers on the first row were being systematically pulled out so they wouldn’t get crushed by those behind them. It was quite a sight, I guess. They were all either sweating or wet, I couldn’t tell, but I did feel bad for them. Also, I can point out that those security guards at the front have real bad attitudes. Seriously, you are 6’5″ and weight 325 lbs, don’t push the girl photog out of the way, at least not unless someone or something is on fire, which is quite possible at a Megadeth concert, I’ll give you that.

I got to shoot for four songs, right by the stage with my handy earplugs in place. Megadeth was not as bad as I was expecting. Dave Mustaine did not bite a bat’s head off, nor did he roll around the floor while playing his guitar with his teeth or anything. Maybe he did all that after the first four songs? Their music, loud yes, was not too bad (remember though, I was wearing earplugs), and while there were microphones for signing, I’m not too sure anyone did any. Even if they did, the loud guitar-playing and drumming would have rendered any vocals totally useless. Could one argue that metal is not for those who care about the written word?

Dave Mustaine rocks it out.

Guitarist Chris Broderick is on fire. Good thing it was raining because with dry conditions, fire, and the amount of hair on stage, we could’ve easily had our next out-of-control wildfire.

Bassist James Lomenzo. What does the Constitution say about wearing tight leather pants after a certain age? Nothing? Really?

#57 on the ‘How to be a Rock Star” manual: point indiscriminately at the audience.

I’ve come to the conclusion that drummers are seldom very famous not because their craft is not as difficult as signing or playing the guitar, but because photographers usually don’t have good enough lighting to get a decent picture of them since they’re all the way in the back, therefore they get very little media exposure. Just a thought…

Now, your thoughts on the pictures. Good? Bad? Hairy?

First Friday Music Phoenix Random

More local music

I mentioned before that First Fridays is a great place to listen to some good music (and free too!). Unfortunately this past First Friday, I was too tired, after spending much of the day moving to my new apartment, so I could barely stand up long enough to enjoy many of the acts.

Static Management set up a stage outside their offices, which had been converted into a sort of art gallery just for the evening. Their offices being another of those converted houses in the Roosevelt area. I don’t remember if they said they put on shows every First Friday, but it seemed like it. One of the cool things about small shows like these, is being able to just see the bands standing on the curb with a crappy pick-up full of equipment, waiting for their turn, and then setting up everything themselves.

First up was Coats and Villa. A two-man act composed of Wayne Coats and Nick Villa. As one would expect from a very young looking duo with a guitar and a set of drum, their sound was very rough, particularly the vocals, which seemed slurred most of the time. 

They were just having a good time, I suppose. And judging by the smell coming from drummer Wayne Coats, he was not drinking water out of that red cup onstage. 

Next up was Princess Ladyfriend, whose bizarre name makes them no justice. They had a good sound, but when I was asked who they sounded like, I found myself at a lost for words. They had your usual setup, including keyboards and what seemed like other pre-recorded sounds.  If I have been able to stick around longer, I would have gotten more of a scoop on that.

Go try figure out for yourself who they sound like at their MySpace . I think if this band was to get a little more serious about it, and got someone to work with them on their lyrics, they could potentially do bigger and better gigs. 

And finally, because my brain is fried with all these lights, here are some other photos from the street party…

These people were promoting something called Spectrum (it was hard to get information out of them because they refused to talk. As you can see, though, the red fella in the bottom photo is talking on an imaginary phone).  They were handing out postcards that said Spectrum would “surprise and delight audiences transforming the street into a stage, revealing the poetry and beauty of the mundane.”

Sounds pretty cool. Check it out


Music Tempe Third Thursdays

MGMT at Tempe Marketplace

Indie band MGMT had an amazing show at the Tempe Marketplace in Tempe, AZ this past month.  The free concert series is hosted by 103.9 every third Thursday of the month. Yes, it seems like PHX has a thing for naming events after particular days of the week (e.g. First Fridays). After the show MGMT became one of my new up-and-coming favorites, although in all fairness, the boys did look like they could use a good shower. I guess, that’s the ‘look’?  And where in this green earth did singer/guitarist Andrew VanWyngarden get his pants? 

Andrew VanWyngarden (left) and Ben Goldwasser perform at the Tempe Markteplace Third Thursday event in Tempe, AZ

Rock those pants, kid. Andrew VanWyngarden (left) and Ben Goldwasser perform at the Tempe Markteplace Third Thursday event in Tempe, AZ

Go check out their website and get a look at their uber-trippy video for ‘Time to Pretend’. Talk about a band on their way up, who know how to have a good time while delivering the goods for the audience. And who are not intimidated by the wholesome, clean, American-Idol, feel-good era which seems to be lingering a bit too long. MGMT is making a bigger and better plan. They’ll “move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.”  While we will have to man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.

Sounds like a plan to me. 


First Friday Music Phoenix

First time @ First Friday

I’d heard of this event from several people, and even though I was off on Fridays, I somehow didn’t go until the April one. Every month, downtown Phoenix hosts a sort of ‘Art Walk’ on the first Friday of the month. Not only is there wicked good local art, but music aficionados will be happy to hear different sounds coming from random places.

I heard a pretty decent band, and found a gig on the front porch of a old-looking house in the heart of downtown. The band playing was called The White Tie Affair, who is touring with PHX favorites Medic Droid.

Though TWTA put on a great sounding show, they were instantly reminiscent of Fall Out Boy, which made even more sense when I talked to the band members and they mentioned hailing from Chicago. Their myspace in case you’re interested,

This was their first performance in a house’s front porch, they admitted. That’s the cool thing about First Fridays, I guess.