Category Archives: concert photography

We Get Out: Matt Nathanson, 2.19.19

So, after a bit of a winter drought, it was time again for live music.

Doctor Daughter (Emma with the PhD) and I bought tix last year for Matt Nathanson‘s recently launched solo acoustic tour, when our favorite singer/songwriter/funny guy first announced he’d be going on the road to support his excellent 2018 album, Sings His Sad Heart. I rarely buy concert tickets far in advance but my girl and I have attended Matt’s shows, together or separately, about a dozen times each, and we knew this date would sell out pronto, so we jumped.

With two other Nathansonians in tow (Carrie, another 10+ show attendee, and Elizabeth, a bit of a newbie at only 4 shows), we got to The Birchmere in time to find a sweet spot to the right of the stage, with good sight lines. (That’s why all the pics have the same angle.) The venue’s flex stage is a smaller space than Nathanson has played in some time. He’s sold out the 9:30 Club for double-date runs, and tix for this date disappeared in a day, so it’s safe to say that the place was packed with genuine fans. Why, then, would I call this the worst audience I’ve ever shared a Matt show with?

Because a few boneheads mistook the intimacy of the space as an invitation for random chatter with the man on stage. And while much of the joy of his shows is the spontaneous way Matt goes off on tangents between songs (he’s got the speedy wit of a great improv comic) he’s there for a concert, not a conversation, people! Matt tease-scolded the interrupters in his usual easy-going way but the message didn’t land. Except for the funny way a Snow Day announcement rippled through the crowd, leaving Matt confused (“Are you all students? Teachers?” It actually mean that government offices and many ancillary workers get a holiday), the unwanted give-and-take was wearying to both the player and his listeners.

Maybe it’s the presence of the giant wheel, which Matt spins to add an element of surprise to the set list (about two-thirds planned; the remainder selected by chance), but general unruliness seems to be an ongoing problem on the current tour. Matt often tweets the day after a show, full of enthusiasm for the night before. No such message appeared after the DC show, and his Twitter feed a few nights later mentioned another show – or was it two? – ruined by “a few obnoxious humans” (RT from 2.24) and “entitled, drunk audience members” (Matt’s own Tweet, from 2.25). This from paying patrons who no doubt consider themselves “fans.” One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl, but a few can tarnish an otherwise sterling night. Sorry, Matt. You deserve better.

But you’ll never leave a Matt Nathanson show without a smile on your face, and last Tuesday was no exception. We heard a great selection of tunes old (my personal favorite, “Answering Machine,” showed up in a spin) and new (“Used to Be” is a great one from the new LP), a few cool covers (The Smiths’ “Girlfriend in a Coma” – oh yeah) and even a brand new ditty we’ll call “8-Track Tape” that he made up on the spot while ruminating about outdated technology. You can see the full list of songs at setlist.fm.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen Matt Nathanson play. The first was February, 2004, so this Birchmere night was “our” 15th year together (I’ll call it the Vinyl Anniversary). And I was lucky to have my camera at some past shows, so if you want More Matt, here are a few links to pics and text memories:

9:30 Club, 2011

Sixth and I Synagogue, 2008

Tysons Corner Plaza (free show), 2018

And Matt was kind enough to respond to a request for a contribution for my set list site, sending a great souvenir from a Houston, TX show in 2006.

It’s been an exhausting day, watching the Cohen testimony, worrying about the decline of our democracy, and waiting for a return to true American greatness (ITMFA), so I’m calling this post, however ragged and much delayed, done! As ever, thanks for stopping by. And here’s one more shot from the Birchmere, as a ‘post-credits’ treat…

It’s like he’s looking right at us.
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I’m Down with…Other People’s Photos

If you’re a regular follower of this blog (thanks!), you know I love taking concert photos.  If I can get a photo pass, I bring my good SLR camera and get up close in the pit. If not, I take along my “non-pro” point-and-shoot and, if all else fails, I’ve got my iPhone.

Yes, it’s important to Be At The Show and not just view life through a screen. I do that, too, but it adds to my enjoyment and is often part of my “job” (or is it a paying hobby?) to capture visual memories. It’s a recurring joy to look through my collection of photos and an ongoing challenge to improve my skills (alas, I am terrible at the technical end, but I think I have a good eye for composition).

I also love looking at other people’s concert photos, especially now that I realize just how hard it can be to get that one amazing moment, in sharp focus, with the colors right and no stray mic stands in the way.

Yesterday, a publicist sent me a gallery of shots from last weekend’s first inaugural Mempho festival, held at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis. I was blown away by the beautiful images. I pitched a story built around the gallery to an online editor, but was told that, since I wasn’t actually at the event, it wouldn’t be right for the site.

OK, then. But I can’t let these beautiful photos – of Cage the Elephant, Jason Isbell, Cold War Kids, Bishop Briggs, Robert Randolph, Southern Avenue – go to waste. You don’t have to like, or even know, the acts, to appreciate the shots. I picked my favorites from the nearly three dozen pics in the event gallery, and here they are – with photog credits, of course! – for your edutainment…

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ICYMI: Dashboard Confessional, et al.

As I mentioned in the last post, Dr. Daughter and I had a great night earlier this month, at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, for a triple bill of The Maine, All-American Rejects and Dashboard Confessional.

I finally wrote the review, with photo slideshow, of Dashboard, for my AXS.com column and it would please me mightily if you would check it out.

Since I didn’t write much about All-American Rejects, I’ll take this moment to say that I was surprised I actually knew four songs by the band, which I had thought of as little more than one-hit-wonders.
(I will now give you a moment to see if you can name some AAR songs. Are you ready?)
“Dirty Little Secret,” “Move Along,” “Swing, Swing” and “Gives You Hell.”

Tyson Ritter is the band’s strutting rock star frontman – lots of f-bombs and exhortations for the crowd to get wild – which would be really annoying if he didn’t also seem to be self-aware about how ridiculous that role can be.

Anyway, since The AARs didn’t get any photo love in my review, here are a few pics of them in action:

 

That’s all for now. Thanks for dropping by!

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Filed under concert photography, Music, music reviews, Wolf Trap Filene Center

We Get Out – The Maine (et al.) at Wolf Trap, 8-10-17

Dr. Daughter (the PhD) asked if I could get us tix to see Dashboard Confessional at Wolf Trap this summer and, thanks to a gracious publicist friend who works with the band, we were able to attend this past Thursday night. It was a lovely summer evening and the Filene Center is a gorgeous open-air venue. With the place about two-thirds full, it was also easy to move around, get snacks, use facilities etc. too. Winning all around.

I’m going to do some kind of story soon about Dashboard, maybe with some thoughts on All-American Rejects, too, but will probably not be talking about The Maine, who opened the three-act bill. I knew little about them going into the show, except for the fact that my musically-omnivorous nephew is a big fan.  As I won’t be reviewing The Maine’s set (a half-hour long, entertaining, no great revelations), I thought I’d at least share some photos since it’s been Way Too Long since I’ve done anything here on the site. Enjoy!



 

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Filed under concert photography, Music, The Maine, Wolf Trap Filene Center

Here It Goes Again

(Days Just Past)  As a popular dorm poster once declared, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” While you could say this on any and every new morning, New Year’s Day is certainly the traditional time to commit to a fresh start in life, love and general happiness. I try not to put too much pressure on this day of new calendars and metaphorical page-turning but yeah, I’m looking to hit the reboot button and get some cool new things happening in 2016. (Note that I’m posting this on January 2, but I wrote most of it on 1/1/16.)

First off, I hope your December holidays, whatever you celebrate, were as happy as our family’s Christmas was. At our annual open house, the Fezziwig Ball, we had 81 people stop in to share food, drinks and fun. Christmas morning was the usual bacchanal of good cheer and not-entirely-cautious consumerism. I had much musical bounty to enjoy, including cool new print matter like “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Day-by-Day Trivia Calendar;” Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl;” Elvis Costello’s “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink” (book edition; the digital download of music arrived earlier this year) and “Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting,” a massive tome that, among other purposes, serves to prove to my husband that he could have it much, much worse when it comes to how/where I store my music.

As for actual playable new tunes, I am the proud new owner of  The Unthanks Memory Box, a bee-you-tee-ous collection, requested from and obtained by my British-resident (for now) PhD graduate. It includes a vinyl 7″, a CD, a DVD, postcards, recipes and much more, all letterpress printed with love. There’s even one piece signed by the band members.

My other daughter, a Toronto resident (for now), took my request for cool new music to heart by  sharing a local favorite with me, The Meligrove Band, in two formats – Shimmering Lights (vinyl album) and Let It Grow (CD).  I also got Ryan Adam’s 1989 on gorgeous sea-foam green vinyl, given to me by my 89-year-old mother. (No, she’s not as hipster as all that. She gave me a check for $25 and I ordered it for myself, but it’s no less appreciated.)

Meanwhile, my Beatles fanboy husband scored the #1’s CD/DVD set and Ringo’s photography book, and a copy of Mojo with a CD collection called Songs the Beatles Taught Us.  Also, a gift from me to him that’s really for the both of us – Laurie Anderson’s soundtrack to Heart of A Dog.

(Looking Ahead)  As this new year begins, I post here in hopes of better organizing my social media presence. I’m currently most active on Twitter (@mariannemeyer) and plan to revive my Instagram account (ClosePersonalFriend) since my high tech research team (two neighborhood teens with good taste) tell me that IG is where it’s at. Nevertheless, I remain an active Facebook user, though I intend to cull my friends list to remove people whose negativity drags me down. (Nonetheless, here’s the Facebook link if you want to reach out.)

I’m still writing as a pay-by-the-click digital lackey: Digital Music Examiner (national music news and free, legal downloads), DC Concert Photography Examiner (DC local news and concert reviews with photo slideshows) and AXS Contributor  (general tour and video news).

And then there’s this...(Read on for a Freebie)

on sale, full screen

Since nobody’s beating down my door with offers to write about music for real money, I have been exploring the world of self-publishing, both POD (print-on-demand) and e-books and plan to get way more involved in the coming year.

My first foray into the latter, e-published in December, is a simple concert photo book of Aussie pop/punk boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, shot when they opened for One Direction in 2014 at Nationals Stadium. I originally intended to create an ebook of 1D photos, and still plan to do so, but decided to start with 5SOS as a simpler effort, since I had fewer photos and, frankly, wanted to tackle the learning curve with a band I didn’t love like I do my 1D boys.

Admittedly, the 5SOS nation has not, so far, risen to my bait. I am not selling well, with mostly just friends and family shelling out the $2.99 (hey, it would cost them more to buy me a holiday latte!) or using promo download codes the iBooks system gave me to toss about. Speaking of which, the first five people who send an email to my new eddress – Marianne@closepersonalfriend.com – will get a free download code of his/her very own.

Maybe not the holiday gift you were most hoping for, but what they heck – Happy New Year, m’dears!

 

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Short month, long winter

February is the shortest month and yet it can easily feel like the longest, with the early-setting sun and bitter cold standing between me and spring – and my birthday, on March 1st. (Start planning now!)

At least this February, I have the sweet face of Harry Styles looking over my shoulder as I type, as his 21st birthday (can I buy you a drink, handsome?!) on February 2 makes him my calendar boy of the month.

IMG_4960

Yes, my possibly inappropriate 1D fangirl obsession continues, but I was able to make it work with a recent story posted on AXS.com, when respected indie troubadour Martin Sexton covered a 1D song for his daughter, after she found out that Harry was following him on Twitter.

Other recent stories for that site include:

Courtney Barnett’s new single/video and upcoming album. Very excited for this as I loved her album and the show I caught last year, at the Black Cat. She was also very gracious afterwards, meeting fans and signing albums. Here I am with the cool lady. IMG_3992

Sufjan Stevens’ new album and upcoming tour.

Rapper/singer Lizzo gets coveted spot opening for Sleater-Kinney’s tour.

I’ve had a few other items posted recently, so here are some other links for your pleasure:

Jukebox the Ghost and Twin Forks giving away free music and touring together.

A review of The Black Cadillacs, and Knox Hamilton (a new favorite band) at Jammin Java.

A review of (charming Southern boy) Christian Lopez, also at Jammin Java.

To recap, here are places you can find me and links to a whole lotta love:

AXS.com

Examiner.com – National Music news

Examiner.com – DC Concert Photography (reviews, previews and slideshows)

 Whatcha Gonna Play – the set list site

Thanks for dropping by and please come back soon. It won’t all be listicles (a horrible trend in journalism, with an ugly word to match!).

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Filed under concert photography, Music, music features, music interviews, music reviews