I recently got a chance to tag along to Baltimore’s annual Free Ball – a vogue dancing event that supports HIV awareness and testing among the city’s LGBT community. It’s a fun event that engages the Vogue community by hosting a free contest, but to enter you have to get tested, and there are a lot of various health resources on site, seems like a great and surprisingly “with it” city-funded event. For more information on Vogue dancing and this event, you can read this article about last year’s event.
I love this band. One of the brightest spots on the Maryland heavy music scene, and a bunch of really awesome dudes as well. It’s been super cool to watch their careers rise, and it’s totally deserved as their records rip (and each one is better and more nuanced than the last). Always fun to hang out and take photos for a couple of hours with this crew, and I think this set shows it.
Gabriel Deloach‘s documentary about Double Dagger, one of the all-time great Baltimore punk bands, is finally streaming on Amazon. I am biased since I am friends with everyone involved in this project, and contributed photography which appears in the film (and was even interviewed, though I unsurprisingly did not make the cut), but I truly think this is a great music doc and worth watching even if you are somehow going in not knowing who Double Dagger was. It’s full of insightful moments and plenty of great live footage from the band’s last tour, a tour I also documented:
- Double Dagger’s last CCAS show
- Double Dagger’s last DC show
- Double Dagger’s last NYC show
- Double Dagger’s last show
“An inside look at the Baltimore underground music scene through one of its most pivotal bands, Double Dagger, this intimate and entertaining portrait follows the band as they complete their final tour and album, tracing the history and growth of the band and of Baltimore’s underground music scene.”
Another catch-up post. This was a great show, two modern classic bands that I hadn’t ever seen before somehow (or, at least I don’t recall seeing them before, anyway!) Brujeria led the crowd in a Fuck Donal Trump chant and brought out a fake Trump on stage, pretty fun antics for the election season. Cattle Decapitation showed off their ever-broadening sound, they really impressed me live, and their newest record backs those live chops up.
Digging through the stacks on this Thanksgiving eve and finding lots of old gems I haven’t posted. Here are some photos of my pals PURE JUNK from last year, playing a show at the Ottobar. Perhaps opening for Fred & Toody of Dead Moon? This was a fun night. Look for more posts soon (I always say that, but for real this time).
Every year I try and post a “Best Of” the year. It’s a good exercise, looking through all your work for the previous year and can only help you going forward. When I started, I would get them done in late december or early January. The last few years… it’s been more like the middle of the next year. 2015’s list is no exception! I started with a big list of photos I liked, then narrowed it down to a smaller list of photos. Maybe next year these won’t show up until 2018. Here are my final picks for 2015, in no particular order:
Baltimore band Dope Body played their last show this past Saturday. I’ve been following their creative output for years, having met Andrew, the vocalist years ago at Sonar and quickly became a fan of their wild live performances, as well as their sound which developed from album to album. A great group of guys who managed to capture a specific and primal sound with their band and also build a devoted following in the area. Sad to see them go, excited to see what they all come up with next. Here are some of my favorite photos of the band I’ve taken over the years, both live shots as well as band photos. UPDATE: City Paper published these as a gallery!
The end of an era. RIP to one of Baltimore’s longest running bands. This was a great show at one of the city’s best DIY venues. Lots of feelings about this, but it was a really nice way for four awesome people to put a cap on eight years of creativity and musical expression. Wonderful to see so many old heads come out for this, what a good night. Go start your own band.
Also: I was going to add them to this post, but it’d be too much so check back tomorrow, when I’ll be posting a retrospective assortment of photos I’ve take over the band over the years.
Big Mouth is one of my absolute favorite Baltimore live bands, they hadn’t played a show for awhile before this one, so I was really stoked to go. I’ve been carrying my Fuji x100t lately, a smaller camera, and I took this show as an opportunity to try and shoot a show entirely with it. It was super challenging, but fun, and I think it came out pretty well.
Watain never disappoints. Always a great show, always a terrible smelling show. I had heard they wouldn’t be as vigorous with the blood and animal carcasses on this tour, but that proved to be wrong. The next day at Thanksgiving Dinner, someone asked me if I had spilled food on my jeans and I had to admit that it was congealed pig’s blood.
Finally got to see Mayhem!
This week marked the relaunch of a Baltimore institution: the Ed Schrader Show! Long before Ed helmed Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, he was known for hosting the always-unpredictable Ed Schrader Show, a live talk show held at various spots around Baltimore. The show would present various notable (and often unsung) people of Baltimore and sitting them down for a chat with Ed in his unique interview style.
After taking some time to focus on music pursuits, this week Ed brought the show back to Metro Gallery and interviewed artist Dina Kelberman (check out her project I‘m Google) and rapper DDM (who is also in the stellar group Bond Street District), both long-time members of the creative scene here in Baltimore.
It was a great show, full of funny moments as well as heartfelt, insightful ones. I’ll add a podcast link here when it goes up- this is just the first in a monthly series of new shows, so you can come to Metro Gallery in march for next month’s taping.
Trying to catch up on posting photos after an autumnal lull due to life stuff and an ailing laptop – this is one of the more fun shows I’ve been to in awhile, it felt like a wild Baltimore rager that doesn’t seem to happen as much anymore. Dope Body shows in Baltimore are always fun as hell, but this one was an especially great night.
Constant audio innovators Matmos are releasing a new album, Ultimate Care II, that was completely sound-sourced from their washing machine. For the release, their label Thrill Jockey had me work with them to create a series of promotional portraits. I have worked with Drew and Martin before and they are (of course) extremely creative as well as easy to work with, so I was really excited about this shoot. We played with some of things and tried to create a mix of images that ranged from your normal “band photo” to ones that were a bit more oblique or playful. Pretty happy with how this came out, and can’t wait for the album to be out – it’s really good!
Alex Ebstein, artist????? ?? ?????? ?????? ??????
Some recent portraits I’ve taken for City Paper.
Earlier this summer I made the trip down to Carrboro, NC with noted Baltimoreans Kevin Sherry and Mark Brown to watch Future Islands play their celebratory 1000th show. I wrote the following for Noisey:
FUTURE ISLANDS BRING IT ON HOME TO NORTH CAROLINA FOR THEIR 1,000TH SHOW
Future Islands capped off their first 1,000 shows (and a tremendous year) with an all-fam celebration in Carrboro, NC this Sunday, appropriately dubbed FI1000. Not wanting to miss it, I packed into a car with a few other Baltimoreans and road tripped it down there. Though known primarily as a Baltimore band, the boys grew up in North Carolina and started the band there, so it felt right for this party to be down south.
Located at the open air Carrboro Town Commons, the show had kind of a block party or family reunion vibe with a lineup filled with old friends of the band. NC buddies like Valient Thorr and Lonnie Walker, along with Baltimore friend Dan Deacon and Ed Schraderâ€™s Music Beat. Add in Danny Brown and about 4,500 exuberant fans and thatâ€™s a recipe for quite a party.
The relaxed atmosphere was pretty perfect for a intimate fest like this, with the artists mingling with the (mostly young) crowd, who seemed appreciative of even the early bands on the bill. But once Danny Brown took the stage, the energy of the crowd spiked sharply, with people dancing exuberantly, grinding, chanting along. The stage fencing almost gave way at more than one point. I donâ€™t think the Carrboro Town Commons security staff had seen a show like this before.
Dan Deacon kept the energy high, performing a set mixed with both new tracks and old classics like Wham City and Crystal Cat. Iâ€™ve seen him do his audience participation parts more time than I can count, but it never ceases to amaze me how he can coax a huge crowd into seemingly anything. He also took time to speak about police violence and how it affects us all, the most somber moment of the night but delivered in a classic uplifting and reflective Deacon manner.
All the artists told stories about Future Islands, some dating back to even before they were a band. The anticipation was super high for them to take the stage at dusk. Always charismatic on stage, it was obvious how pleased the guys were to be playing in front of friends and family. Throughout, frontman Sam Herring kept the crowd engaged with anecdotes and stories (told in a Southern accent that grew throughout the night) about their time as a band, growing up in North Carolina, and about the other bands who played. It was a great set, full of both intimate moments and big stage moves – confetti and huge balloons kept the crowd bouncing. They played a packed set which of course included songs like Seasons and Tin Man, but also ranged to older, little heard songs like Pinocchio and New Autobahn, to the obvious pleasure of the crowd. They closed the show out with a promise to return to Town Commons when they hit 2000 shows, though I guess theyâ€™ll need a larger venue next time.