A little while back, I photographed Baltimore musician and artist TRNSGNDR/VHS at a special performance at the Walters Art Museum. It was part of the Art/Sound/Now series, which brings in artists to do site-specific performances in the Walters’ space. Quite an experience, it was interesting to see the crowd move in and out of the space full of classical works, while listening to Alexandra’s very contemporary piece.
We also did a quick portrait session before the show, and I like how some of the shots turned out…
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.”
This show was great. I didn’t know much about Spalding going it but it turns out she is quite the performer – both in a musical sense and the dramatic. The concert was more like a musical stage play, performed to a absolutely sold-out 9:30 Club. If you are a fan of her music I would say don’t miss out on the chance to see her live; I thought it was great and I was just some guy off the street, essentially.
This show was pretty tough. I’ve been to a lot of pop shows over the years and though I rarely enjoy the music, usually artists at the arena or stadium level seem to be pure entertainers, like Usher, vibing with the crowd and their fans, like Ke$ha, or in complete control of the crowd like Kylie Minogue. Not Bieber. He just seemed bored, or something. Not sure if it was an off night or what, but my only thought after walking out of this show was “man, that guy really didn’t want to be up there, did he?” Too bad, because it was a hell of a light show and stage setup, and a full house.
Merry Christmas! I forgot that some of my photos are in this cheery holiday-themed video from Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Enjoy!
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.
I shot and wrote a thing for Noisey about the Marilyn Manson tour opener at the Fillmore… photos above, here is the text:
Yesterday, I got the all-clear to shoot the Marilyn Manson tour opener in scenic Silver Spring, Maryland. After a hiatus of sorts, my generationâ€™s number one shock rocker is back with a comeback album, The Pale Emperor, and this show would be the first chance for live impressions. Iâ€™ve never been a Manson fan really; as a teenager, I liked some of the early songs like â€œLunchbox,â€ and once saw him open for Nine Inch Nails, but by the time he hit full superstar mode, I was too busy listening to hardcore and screamo records to care very much about what Brian Warner was getting up to. Still, the guy is an iconâ€”of course I wanted to see his show!
After navigating a line that literally wrapped around the block (later, I was told that concertgoers had started lining up twelve hours before doors), I went in expecting some serious 90s rockstar antics. I wasnâ€™t disappointed. In a set filled with solid hits, Manson’s show also featured multiple costume changes (including four costume changes for the microphone itself), casual cockiness and furious anger at the sound guy, calls for fans to throw drugs on stage (he casually picked up one baggie containing an impressive amount of powder and filed it away in his back pocket for later), a contingent of women with their tops off and Manson lyrics written on their bodies, and of course, calls for the crowd to suck his dick. In true rock star fashion, any time he was done with an objectâ€”a microphone, an open bottle of water, a glass of liquorâ€”he just let it drop to the ground, and someone would scurry over there to put it back in its rightful place without the show missing a beat.
After the showâ€”which was entertaining enough to me, a non-fan, to stay until the endâ€”the overall fan reaction seemed pretty ecstatic. One gothy teenager beamed at me and asked if I also thought that it had been the best concert ever. A few people I spoke to did say that they were disappointed with his vocals (though I must say that they sounded generally fine to me). I asked them if they thought that made the concert suck, and one of them replied enthusiastically, â€œNo! Marilyn Manson canâ€™t do a bad show!â€
Earlier this year, Marked Men played 3 shows in two days at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus. I covered it for Noisey. Great shows, I wish we could have stayed for the third one but no sense being greedy, I suppose. The atmosphere at these shows were great, really intimate, lots of fans from all over there to see one of their favorite bands play with little or no BS. The day show, especially was cool, though less “wild” since people were just waking up/not tipsy, but it gave it a more youthful vibe. Don’t miss a chance to see this band.
I recently covered concerts by Tori Amos, Orrin Evans and UK garage vet DJ EZ for the Washington Post.
The other week, I shot Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates at Fillmore. I was expecting to be underwhelmed, as most hip-hop shows I go to lately have been fairly disappointing… a lot of the younger artists haven’t been playing shows that long and seem to lack the showmanship you used to see. Not Gates, though. After a slow start, I was pleasantly surprised as he burst into life, stalking back and forth on stage, calm one moment, barely contained energy the next. The crowd ate it up, too. Good show, fun to shoot too, as he kept interacting with crowd members.
I shot the Arcade Fire Reflektor Tour at Verizon Center for the Washington Post. Was a little skeptical at first, having not kept up with them in years, but I thought the show was fun, and fun to shoot. The reviewer didn’t seem to like it much, but I had a good time.
Last month, I shot The Evens (Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina) in their home for Ghetto Blaster magazine, for a feature about their new album. I was a little nervous, unsure how it would be working with Ian, but my worries were totally unfounded – they were both great to work with, friendly, firm about what they wanted, and full of great ideas that made the final product better. A great shoot, and I think the final product came out well!
I spent a pleasant afternoon in Matmos’ Baltimore City studio, photographing them for a recent XLR8R piece on their studio, their gear, and their new album. A really interesting pair of artists, they explained some of their process and a lot of their gear to me, and they even demonstrated the basic concept of how they came out with the concepts and raw material for their new album – having a friend of theirs undergo sensory deprivation and describing the music that he heard (pictured above). A really cool shoot.
Two shows I shot for the post, both bands I hadn’t heard before. Imagine Dragons (playing at the Fillmore) were super energetic live, or at least the singer was, but not really to my taste. Veronica Falls (playing at the Black Cat), however, I loved. Very poppy indie rock with melodic vocals… I thought they would fit in opening for the Smiths in the 1980s, or something. Check them out!
Ruth Moore, a veteran, went to Capital Hill to deliver 160,000+ signatures to her petition that the VA re-evaluate the way it deals with victims of sexual assault. I documented her meeting with the VA representative. See all the photos here.
Every year in Maryland, there is a Polar Bear Plunge to benefit the Special Olympics. It’s grown from a modest event, to one that is huge, with 10,000s of people crowding near the base of the Bay Bridge to watch the brave souls that jump in the freezing cold water. There are bands, contests, and costumes… this year the Baltimore Sun sent me out to take photos of some of the creative costumes of the event. And, as you can see, there was a lot of Ravens pride this year…