Pale Eyes, The Cardboard Crowns, Ends By You, and The Bright Sides @ Horseshoe Tavern – April 15, 2014

Nu Music Nite at the Horseshoe Tavern on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. With Pale Eyes, The Cardboard Crowns, Ends By You, and The Bright Sides.

PALE EYES (Toronto, Ontario) “Nouveau industrial distortion, dark dance pop, electronic experimentation, and found-sound textures.”

There was very little light to work with here. Various images were projected onto the performers, but I couldn’t really make any of it out. I only snapped a few pics of this duo’s set (the second member is partly obscured by the shadows).

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THE CARDBOARD CROWNS (Aylmer, Quebec / Ottawa, Ontario) “A mighty clash of ska-beat, reggae, punk-rock, and community service, all wrapped up in a swirling frenzy of cardboard.”

This band totally lives up to its name. Yes, each of these four dudes actually donned cardboard crowns during their set. All they cared about was having a blast, and it seemed to rub off on everyone in the room. Fun times!

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ENDS BY YOU (Toronto, Ontario) Indie Rock

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Ends By You’s bassist donned a cardboard crown for their last song. It was cool to see how stoked the guys in the Crowns were when they saw that, haha.

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THE BRIGHT SIDES (Montreal, Quebec) “Indie alternative rock”

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The Crowns were up and dancing like mad during The Bright Sides’ set. Here they are going nuts to the last song of the night – a cover of a Ramones tune (I don’t remember which one).

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Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Fefe Dobson, w/Courage My Love, Hisland, and Craig Stickland @ Tattoo – April 11, 2014

Febe Dobson brought her Firebird tour to Tattoo on Friday, April 11. Courage My Love, Hisland, and Craig Stickland were also on the bill.

This is probably the biggest show I’ve photographed to date. Of all the performers I’ve ever shot, Fefe Dobson and Courage My Love are arguably the most well known. I can’t believe it’s been over 10 years since I first heard Dobson’s single – “Bye Bye Boyfriend”, which she played during her set. Courage My Love have been on my radar for more than a year, after I first heard “I Sell Comics” (sadly, not on the set list), which is the theme song for the podcast of the same name.

This was also a big deal for me in that I was granted access to shoot the show by the respective management teams of the bands. So, a big thanks goes out to them.

Tattoo is not a huge venue, but it’s pretty swanky and the lighting configuration is fairly elaborate, as you’ll see from the pics below.

CRAIG STICKLAND (Toronto, Ontario) “Harmony-driven introspective pop.”

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HISLAND (Kitchener, Ontario) Rock n’ Roll

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COURAGE MY LOVE (Kitchener, Ontario) “Power trio, pop-punk, alternative metal”

Mercedes Arn-Horn: vocals, guitar
Phoenix Arn-Horn: drums, vocals
Brandon Lockwood: bass

A couple of things stood out during the set. First, Mercedes gave a heartfelt birthday shout-out to her mom, who also just happened to be working the merch table! Second, a dude proposed to his girlfriend via a huge banner that was unfurled at the front of the stage (I think she said “yes”). The band seemed to be in on the whole thing. It was a tear-jerking moment, that’s for sure.

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This was the very last shot I took of their set. Probably my favourite one.

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FEFE DOBSON (Toronto, Ontario) Rock / Pop

The headliner takes the stage…

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Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

NOTES:
-For both Fefe Dobson and Craig Stickland, I was told that I’d only be allowed to shoot for the first minute of the first two songs. I’ve heard of photographers only being allowed to shoot the first three songs of a performer’s set, but never the first minute of the first two songs. But once the show started, it was basically a free-for-all. There were cameras everywhere, of all shapes, sizes and types, and not really any way to enforce a shooting limit.
-It was hard getting shots in focus under certain types of light. The blue, purple, pink, and red were the worst. The yellow and white were much better, but not overly abundant.
-I screwed up a bit by not preparing properly for the show. Namely, I didn’t bring enough memory. So, after the first three acts, I only had about 100 shots left for Fefe Dobson’s set. Luckily, I was still able to get enough decent pics. Actually, they’re by far my favourite ones.
-Overall, it was awesome shooting this concert and getting the experience under my belt (even though I think I could have done a bit better in terms of getting the shots I wanted).
-I saw Bobby Singh from Front of House Photography at the show. I’m a big fan of his work, so I introduced myself while we were waiting for Fefe Dobson to hit the stage. It was cool talking to him about gig photography. Nice guy.
-I need a lot more practice editing pictures, especially when wild and crazy lighting is involved. Must… study… photo editing… tutorials…!

Mike Butler, Emily Reid, and Runaway Angel @ Supermarket – April 9, 2014

The first time I saw Mike Butler play was at the Horseshoe Tavern back on December 9, 2013. He came across as being a very likeable, fun-loving performer. So, I made my first ever trip to Supermarket on Wednesday, April 9 to check out another one of his gigs. The country music showcase also featured Emily Reid in the middle slot, and Runaway Angel closing out the proceedings.

Supermarket:
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MIKE BUTLER (Toronto, Ontario) “Contemporary country filled with heart, soul, high energy, and an upbeat sense of humour.”

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EMILY REID (Victoria, BC / Toronto, Ontario) “Part Country, Part Alt, Part Pop.”

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RUNAWAY ANGEL (London, Ontario) Country

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Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

NOTES:
-I once again overstepped my bounds and talked to the sound guy regarding the lighting (will I never learn my lesson? haha). In the end, I had plenty of light to get some good shots.
-I shot the first two acts at ISO 2500. It wasn’t until Runaway Angel was about to hit the stage that realized I could take it down to ISO 1600. Still, I don’t think image noise is much of an issue here, even at ISO 2500. The point is, don’t fall asleep at the wheel!

Barbarosa @ Horseshoe Tavern – April 5, 2014

Barbarosa performing at the Horseshoe Tavern on April 5, 2014.

BARBAROSA (St. Catharines, Ontario) Alternative-folk/Art Rock

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Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Barbudos @ Horseshoe Tavern – April 5, 2014

BARBUDOS (Niagara Falls, Ontario) Indie / Alternative / Folk / Surf Tremolo / Rock

Barbudos performing at the Horseshoe Tavern on April 5, 2014.

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I’m often frustrated by how tough it is to get decent drummer pics. Well, one way to get around that is to wait until the part in the set when the drummer switches places with the vocalist and comes to the front of the stage to bang on a tambourine. Genius!

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Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The Mandevilles @ Horseshoe Tavern – April 5, 2014

THE MANDEVILLES (Welland, Ontario) Rock and Roll / Americana / Roots Rock

The Mandevilles were kind enough to put me on the guest list for their gig at the Horseshoe Tavern on April 5, 2014. This was my third time seeing them and they once again didn’t disappoint. Of the 100+ bands I’ve seen play in the last eight months, they’re definitely in my top five favourites to photograph live.

The Mandevilles are:

Serena Pryne/vocals
Nick Lesyk/guitar
Taylor Laslo/guitar
Brett Bendo/drums
Waylon Glintz/bass

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Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

NOTES:
-Finally bought a new lens – a Canon 24-70mm f2.8, which is supposed to be one of the sharpest lenses you can get. This was my first chance to test it out. It’s pretty huge and quite heavy, so it was a very different feeling from wielding the feather-light 50mm lens. Overall, I think I made out pretty well, though I still had a high number of blurred images. It was nice to have the versatility of a zoom lens, which meant that I could get more variety in my shots without having to move around quite as much. As usual, I had to take a heap of shots just to get a decent amount of useable ones. Not very efficient, but part of the learning process, I guess.
Concert photography is cool (though often frustrating), but I’ve been itching to do some band promo shots for a while, just to mix things up a bit. Time to start contacting bands to try to get some shoots arranged!

New Nobles and The Tungsten Hum @ Horseshoe Tavern – March 24, 2014

Shoeless Monday at The Horseshoe Tavern on March 24, 2014, with New Nobles and The Tungsten Hum.

NEW NOBLES (Ontario/Saskatchewan) “We play rock ‘n roll”

This was my second time seeing New Nobles play The Horseshoe. The first was back on November 25, 2013, when they had four members – they’ve since trimmed down to a three-piece outfit. I very rarely get approached by band members, so I was a bit surprised when Jen Zentner, the singer/bassist for NN, came up to me before the show. She said she remembered seeing me last time. We chatted for a bit, and I found out some interesting info about how they got the gig, and how much bands get paid on a Monday night (50 bucks!). She also introduced me to Dean Beardsley, who plays guitar. Rounding out the lineup is Robin Edwards on drums.

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THE TUNGSTEN HUM (Toronto, Ontario) “A rock and soul band” that features “greasy guitar riffs, deep low end, and ripping drums!”

I don’t remember much about this band’s set, except that they were pretty solid. That, and the drummer was awesome to watch. (As you can tell, I really do have a knack for being descriptive…)

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Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 50mm f1.8 II

NOTES:
-Before the show started, I asked the sound man if there was any way he could turn up the lights a bit, just so I could get some decent shots of the bands. He gave me a mild rebuke, saying that it’s a performance venue and not a photo studio. He was right. Actually, I have no business making such a request, but I thought I’d try my luck (as I’ve done it a few times at other venues and had some success). But he did turn up the lights enough that I was able to get quite a few shots I was happy with. So, I definitely have to thank him for that!

Ketamine // Girls, Greg McEvoy, 60 LPs, and The Fiscals @ Horseshoe Tavern – March 18, 2014

Nu Music Nite at The Horseshoe Tavern on Tuesday, March 18, with Ketamine // Girls, Greg McEvoy, 60 LPS, and The Fiscals.

KETAMINE // GIRLS (Toronto, Ontario)

After getting a bit of a tongue-lashing from the sound guy for not starting their set on time, Ketamine // Girls banged out a solid show, led by their somewhat eccentric lead singer. It’s definitely the first time I’ve seen someone perform with a fur stole draped around his neck…

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GREG McEVOY (Toronto, Ontario) Folk Rock

Greg McEvoy was supported by a full band, including two female backup singers (though you wouldn’t know it from looking at these pics – it was too dark to get anything I was satisfied with, unfortunately).

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60 LPs (Moncton, New Brunswick) Rock

I always get stoked when an international/out-of-province band plays The Horseshoe. These guys came all the way from New Brunswick – props to that!

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THE FISCALS (Newmarket, Ontario) Indie Rock

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Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 50mm 1.8 II

NOTES:
-I think a lot of my Horseshoe pictures are starting to look the same. Sure, I could move around to get different angles, but I feel like I can only do so much with the 50mm lens I have. Getting a great drummer shot (or a full band shot) is very hard, for example. Besides the fact that they’re so far away, they’re also usually shrouded in darkness. Anyway, I think it’s time to invest in a decent zoom lens. I do have a 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, but it’s not very useful in low-light situations, unless I’m using a flash.
-I got a better-than-average amount of sharp pics, especially for 60 LPs and The Fiscals. But there were a lot of similar ones, so I only posted the ones I liked the best.