Favorite Photos of 2011: Part 2

Alright, back into it!

The Black Lips winding down a 4 month tour at The Firebird in Saint Louis, Missouri with Night Beats and locals Flaming Death Trap on August 4th, 2011. (Bryan Sutter)

Black Lips at The Firebird– Yes, Black Lips show up twice. You wanna know why? Because they rule. After touring around the world for most of the year, Black Lips played their second to last show before Lollapalooza at The Firebird. If you asked any of them what they planned on doing with their much deserved break, “detox” would be high on the list. It was a much more relaxed show than you’d expect from them, but it wasn’t mellow by any means. Some would say they looked tired, or that they didn’t really put their balls into it. There may be some truth to that, but to me the show felt like a victory lap. They were so close to home, yet still had one big show before they could return to Atlanta. Arabia Mountain was coming up as the album that might break them into the mainstream and at the very least, was showing to be one of the best releases of the year.

Jared has always been the member of that band I’ve spoken with the most. I think he’s a pretty alright dude. I’ve always struggled getting the shots I’ve wanted of him. He bounces around the stage and hovers above his mic in a way that’s hard to get a good angle on when you’re in a bouncing pit. For a song or two I broke out the Lensbaby and the telephoto adapter and squeezed out a few good shots from stage left. The center of focus isn’t perfect but I feel it captures the hazy vibe that comes and goes during a Black Lips set.

The Ettes at Cicero’s– So, this show was kind of a big deal for me. I’ve been waiting to see The Ettes live for a long time. Three years, maybe? I’d either find out that they’d played a small room the night after it happened or they’d drop off a tour. I thought I had my chance when I asked to shoot the Raconteurs show (which they were doing tour support for) via a local publication and when following up the request a month or two later I found they gave their photo pass to someone who then got sick the day of show. Bah!

Mike Cracchiolo,  talent buyer and co-owner of The Firebird, had taken control of Cicero’s booking back in April and this was one of the first “Oh, shit!” shows to come from that change. Unfortunately, Mike and Cicero’s publicist Kenny Snarzyk were both let go on New Year’s Day. Some would say that was a poor choice. I’d have to agree.

Dead Prez at The Firebird– An intern and myself ended up driving DP around a bit before their set. We talked about pizza at one point. It was a bit surreal. At dinner, I just listened to them talk. They’re as flawed as anyone else on this planet but I’ve met few people with a perspective like their own.

After all that, I was given a hard shoot from these guys. Very animated with narrow windows where the lighting synced up with any moment where stic.man or M-1 weren’t eating the mic. Early on, I got this shot of M-1, who from time to time would remain still enough for me to frame a shot. Definitely one of my favorite favorites of 2011.

Troubadour Dali (as Sonic Youth) at AUCW5– For 2010’s An Undercover Weekend, Troubadour Dali masterfully stepped into the shoes of Queens of the Stone Age. Picking again another tall order with Sonic Youth, is was humorous to ponder how this ground of bohemian weirdos would take on a second group seemingly outside their comfort zone. The result? A lot of offset guitars and noise, maybe a bit loose but it was hard to tell. I’m not a fan of Sonic Youth but the songs I recognized were performed accurately enough.

Frontman Ben Hinn definitely did some faithful guitar freakouts. Vibes were felt and expressed.

Clownvis Christmas at Off Broadway– I’m going to end this entry with Clownvi, even though there are some other shots I’d like to talk about. Clownvis has always been one of my favorites to shoot and it had been something like 18 months since I last got my fix. It was worth the wait but being a seated event made it hard to shoot.

But, you know, it was Clownvis. The king of clowns and friend to all. There was some new material and soulful rendition of “Jesus Christ Eatin’ on a Chicken Wing,” quite possibly the greatest song about Jesus and food.

The sort of thing to perfectly end a three day bender, I can tell you that much.

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