Friday, April 23, 2010

iphone across the country.

After South by Southwest was over, I drove my car up to Dallas to pick up friend and fellow photographer Brandon Thibodeaux. We took about 5 days to drive Highway 40 (and the Historic Route 66) back to San Francisco, enjoying the sights and taking more pictures than is probably healthy. When we got back, I realized I'd taken a ton of photos on my iPhone and that they were a fun way to trace the journey. So here's a little slideshow of those little pictures (run through the CameraBag application). It's a couple minutes long, but it definitely hits the highlights of the trip. Enjoy!

tear sheet.

With how much the industry feels like it's splintering off into a million unmanageable pieces, it's always comforting when I can share a little piece of camaraderie with my peers and friends. Which is why I was so excited for the current issue of Fader. Not only did I have a blast photographing a great band, Moon Duo, but flipping through the pages I saw the names of some of my favorite people: Alex Welsh, Bryan Derballa and Mustafah Abdulaziz. Mustafah was kind enough to put together a little slideshow shout-out with outtakes from the issue, and you can see that here on the MJR blog.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

sxsw - day four.

One last day of South by Southwest to show you, and one last day of crazy running around to catch countless shows.

Started the day with back-to-back photo shoots, first with Freddie Gibbs and followed up with Freeway and Jake One. Zoneil and I met up with Freddie in the Marriott hotel restaurant, where I set him up in a couple of different spots. What I love about photographing rappers and hip-hop artists is they're really used to posing for photographs, so they require very little direction and usually know how to make themselves look good. Freddie was awesome because not only did he pose however I asked him, but when his manager said, "Don't smile, keep tough," he burst out laughing. Gotta say, the man has a lovely smile. After the interview, we bounced over to the Embassy Suites to meet up with Freeway and Jake One. I joked about getting the two of them to pose in the bed, under the sheets, but because of the reputations they have, they politely declined, haha. They were cool enough to let us hang around with them in the hotel room a while, and I got what I'd consider one of my favorite photos from the whole week, with the two of them on the couch and Freeway yawning. It just seemed so relaxed, so unlike how most in the rap world present themselves.

After all that, we met up with Todd Spoth over at Ace's Lounge to catch Hey Champ and Bad Rabbits. I was pretty stoked on both sets, but especially by Bad Rabbits, who I'd never heard of before. Full band, minor choreographed dance moves, and just a lot of energy made for a pretty epic set. If you're interested, hit up their website (link above) to download their EP for free. It's definitely worth a listen.

When that was done, I wandered over to the Fader Fort with Todd to see what was going on. Ran into JFP and photographed a bunch of folks having fun dancing in front of the DJ booth. Around 7, walked around the corner to the Independent to catch iLL-Literacy (remember this shoot?) play their set at the Audible Treats showcase. It was totally rad to see their new set in action, including the lego heads and a giant audio/video presentation projected over the audience. Once that wrapped, we hustled back over to Fader Fort just in time to catch a set by Sleigh Bells, which pumped up the audience, and then the headliner for the evening, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony! All-in-all a pretty epic set with all the old jams.

To round out the night, Todd and I headed over to Emo's to catch a set by what was listed as Cokie the Clown... which ended up being NOFX's Fat Mike dressed as a clown, playing a guitar and telling some of the most traumatizing stories I've ever heard on a stage. There's a great recap here on Pinpoint Music, which includes him pranking the audience into drinking his pee. Absolutely legendary.

Overall, it was a great week and I think I might still be recovering weeks later. Here's a few photos from the last day, and I hope you've enjoyed the slow-coming installments.

Monday, April 5, 2010

sxsw - day three.

Day three was jam-packed. Started off the day doing a quick photo shoot for Oh Dang! Magazine with a hip hop group called Bin Laden Blowing Up [BBU]. They were pretty funny and a little goofy, and provided a great environment to work in. Houston-based photographer Todd Spoth helped with the shoot, which was in the alley behind the Soho Lounge, holding the strobe and even sacrificing a couple of his promo cards for the creation of a snoot.

After the shoot, Todd and I headed over to the Relix Magazine showcase at Antone's to check out the Watson Twins and Minus the Bear. I was really stoked to see both bands; I saw Minus the Bear a few times in college and love them, and I've loved the Watson Twins' music since their album with Jenny Lewis. Once that goodness was through, I met up with Todd at the Shirts for a Cure show at Red7. I was only able to catch a few songs by 7 Seconds (I can't believe they're still playing shows. Amazing.) before Zoneil called me up for a last-minute shoot with Alabama rapper Yelawolf. It was great to meet him, and I totally fell for his southern charm. There was also a lot of pressure (in my head, at least) to do a good shoot with him after seeing photos that Bryan Derballa shot of Yela last month. In the gallery below are just a few outtakes from the shoot; I'm saving the best for publication, and I'll link that when it's up.

Finally, to round out the evening was the show I'd been waiting all week for: Matt Pryor at St. David's Episcopal Church. Yes, that's right, in a church. The scene was gorgeous, the acoustics were amazing, and even crazier, there were only about 35 people there sitting in pews and singing along quietly. Matt Pryor has been one of my favorite musicians since I was in junior high school, and to see a solo performance by him made all the nights of minimal sleep worthwhile.


Since there were really no other shows I really wanted to see that night, I wandered the streets with Todd, saw a set by a Los Angeles band called the Wallburds (on the street - always fun), listened to Neon Indian at their outdoor show from across the street, and saw Minus the Bear play one more time before calling it a night.

With that, here are some of my favorite pictures from the third day. The last day of SXSW will be posted up shortly, I promise.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

sxsw - day two.

Onto more updates from South by Southwest 2010.

Day two started off a little more mellow than the first. Wandered around the streets for a while and met up with Austin-based photographer Bill Reeves to talk shop and compare stories. He ever-so-kindly joined me to catch a set at Stubb's by Sacramento band Middle Class Rut. I've never seen these guys in my town, but friends Lite Brite opened up for them during last summer's Concerts in the Park, and have spoken highly of them, so of course I had to see what the fuss was about. Afterward, I wandered back to the Mariott to meet up with Zoneil for an interview with hip-hop artist Donnis. He was really thoughtful and soft-spoken, and amazingly focused through his work and his music. I'll be sure to post up a link to the article (complete with portraits!) when it runs in Oh! Dang.

Spent most of the rest of the afternoon at Light Bar on Congress to shoot the URB showcase, mostly to see a set by Don Will, and also to check out Nikki Jean. Zoneil had told me a little about Don Will and his latest album, Don Cusack, which was inspired by the movie High Fidelity. Totally. Killer. A reference I can appreciate; that movie was such a big part of my teenage life. As someone who doesn't actively listen to a whole lot of hip hop, it's always fun to check out these shows because the energy is pretty amazing. Everyone is singing along, or if they don't know the words, they're at least feelin' the music. Also, a constant theme of conversation throughout SXSW this year was how blurred the lines have become between the hip hop community and the hipster community, from style to attitude and even down to the music. Which is nice for a little former-punk, current tight-jeans-wearing kid like me. Punk and hip hop were born of the same revolutionary ideals, diverged, and are starting to come back together.... but that's a discussion for another time.

Finally, rounded out the evening with an outdoor set by the Morning Benders. Those kids played probably 8 or 9 shows in a 4-day period, which is seriously impressive. I've dug their music, and after meeting Jon during his brief stint as roommate to the (soon to be) famous Bryan Derballa in NYC, I knew I had to catch them live. And I have to say I'm glad I saw them at the venue I did because it was just beautiful. It was in a gravel parking lot on the other side of the freeway, and the stage was just a lifted platform surrounded by fans and friends. It was like being at a show as a teenager again, kids drinking tall cans and singing along to every song. I'd say it was the perfect ending to a lovely day.

So here are a handful of photos from the day. Days 3 and 4 coming soon.