Reflection: Every Time I Die - Buffalo, NY

Instead of showcasing a bunch of my favourite photos from the year, I decided to write up a blog post on one of my favourite shows. It is extremely hard to single out one band’s set, but this to me was a no brainer. As some of you may know, I had the privilege of traveling on the Vans Warped Tour for the second time this past summer working for Epitaph Records. I got to work closely with seven awesome bands who all brought something unique to the tour, so it was a great variety and kept the days interesting. The band I am going to focus on in this write up needs no introduction, but I will discuss why they are an important band not only to me, but to a lot of people.

Every Time I Die have a been a band that I have truly loved ever since first photographing them back in 2011 while they were on tour with The Chariot. They played a 250 cap venue called Call The Office in London, Ontario and I believe it was sold out. During ETID’s set, a stage diver kicked the flash unit right off the top of my camera. About 80% of my time was spent making sure I didn’t get kicked in the head and the other 20% was spent shooting. It was absolute mayhem, and I was hooked.

During the Vans Warped Tour, some of the shows for most bands can contrast one another due to how similar the set up is each day. Although, whenever a band plays their hometown or close enough to it, those sets tend to get crazy. I had been looking forward to the Buffalo date since the beginning of the tour because that is where Every Time I Die is from. The show took place just outside of the Darien Lakes Amusement Park (which may not be exactly Buffalo, but close enough).

The day began sunny and stayed that way until about 11 a.m. After that, the heavy rain started and pretty well went to about 5 p.m. or so, causing pretty well the entire Warped Tour grounds to be covered in mud. Everywhere you looked, it was probably wet and muddy. ETID’s set was around 6 p.m, and all I remember is thinking to myself, “This set is going to be absolutely insane.” Days when it is raining on Warped Tour are my favourite because you get unique, captivating images of bands in a scenario that can only be found at an outdoor festival.

I got to the stage roughly 20 minutes early and of course the entire crowd area was completely covered with mud. Sometimes I would shoot from on stage, but because the band had tons of family and friends at the show, I decided to just shoot the first three songs from the barricade and then go into the crowd after. It was now sunny and the rain was long gone, but the festival grounds were muddier than ever.

Once the band finished their third song, I left the barricade area with the rest of the photographers and headed straight for the crowd. By the time I got out there, the mud-throwing was in full force. Armed with my camera and Wonder Years rain jacket, I braved the mud and got right in the action. At first the security tried to stop people from throwing mud, but how do 8 security guards stop hundreds of pissed off teenagers from doing something? You can’t.. So they eventually just stopped trying and let it happen.

For this set, I tried to focus my attention on the crowd and what the fans were doing. How often do you get to photograph crazy fans throwing mud at each other? I knew going in that I’m probably going to get really muddy, but that didn’t matter. It felt like I was at Woodstock 1994 during Green Day’s legendary set (if you haven’t seen this, youtube it immediately!). I like to think that capturing real, unforced emotion is what I love doing most. Whether it’s a band on a big stage or some random person rolling around in mud, documenting all of these things matter a lot to me. Sure I could have put my camera down and watched and not risk my gear getting trashed, but taking photographs like the ones you will see below is a great example of doing whatever it takes to try and take the best possible photograph I can.

When I got back to the bus after the set, my friend and incredible photographer, Matt Vogel, took a photo of me before I cleaned off. I ruined my shorts and hat and it took me over an hour to clean my camera, but it was worth it. I couldn’t be happier with how my photos turned out and I’m proud to say that I didn’t let a little bit of mud get in the way of me photographing one of my favourite live sets to date. Later that night, Every Time I Die were in charge of the after party BBQ. Keith and Jordan’s father made his famous wings for the entire tour and they were incredible. It was just a great way to cap off another great day on the Warped Tour.

Cheers, 2014! Let’s see if 2015 can top you.

Reflection: Alternative Press Music Awards

Last month, I attended the first ever Alternative Press Music Awards. I have been reading AP for years now and have even had a handful of my photos published in their magazine. I had never been to an awards show within the music industry before, so I was ecstatic that I had been given the opportunity.

The band I was riding with on Warped Tour wasn’t going to be making the trip to the awards. Since I was on Warped Tour working for Epitaph Records, The Ghost Inside were ever so kind to let me hop in their bus so I could come enjoy the festivities. I had such a good time at the event, mainly because I had a lot of freedom with what I could photograph. Like most people, I work much better when there isn’t a ton of pressure.

My goal was to get as much content of the Epitaph bands that were in attendance that I could. A few of the bands on their roster were nominated for different awards:

Artist of the Year: Bring Me The Horizon
Album of the Year: Bring Me The Horizon - “Sempiternal”
Breakthrough Band: letlive.
Song of the Year: Bring Me The Horizon - “Shadow Moses” & Falling In Reverse - “Alone”
Best International Band: Parkway Drive (AUS) & Bring Me The Horizon (U.K.)
Best Vocalist: Oli Sykes - Bring Me The Horizon
Best Guitarist: Jacky Vincent - Falling In Reverse
Best Drummer: Ryan Seaman - Falling In Reverse

Below are some of the photos I captured from the day. I had such an awesome time at the event and it would be awesome to attend in future years to come.

Oli of Bring Me The Horizon with some fans.

Andy and Keith of Every Time I Die on the red carpet

Falling In Reverse on the red carpet

Plague Vendor on the red carpet

Plague Vendor on the red carpet

Jason of letlive. taking a selfie with a press photographer on the red carpet

The Ghost Inside on the red carpet

Spencer of Sleepwave signing a guitar that is now being auctioned off for charity

The Ghost Inside holding a signed guitar being auctioned for charity

Keith from Every Time I Die with Bodycount backstage

Jason of letlive. and Keith of Every Time I Die interviewing Coolio backstage

Jason of letlive. and Keith of Every Time I Die backstage

Ronnie of Falling In Reverse performing with Tyler of ISSUES live

Tyler of ISSUES and Coolio live

Oli of Bring Me The Horizon accepting the “Album of the Year” award from Pierce The Veil

Oli of Bring Me The Horizon accepting the “Album of the Year” award

Oli of Bring Me The Horizon accepting the “Song of the Year” award from We Came As Romans

Oli of Bring Me The Horizon with one of his two Skully awards from the day

Reflection: Deftones at Kool Haus

I recently made up a frame with a bunch of my favourite laminates/passes for one of the hallways in my home. It really made me stop and reflect what I’ve done in my life, and being only 22 years old, I feel extremely fortunate to have experienced what I have.

This Deftones show was easily one of the best experiences shooting photographs that I have ever had. It took place on March 1st, 2013 at a venue called Kool Haus in Toronto, Ontario. The venue is actually going to be demolished in the near future so they can build condos and apartment complexes. Before this show, I of course knew who Deftones were, but was never really a “huge fan” per say. Going in, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited as it was sold out and I heard they were an awesome live band.

They opened their set with Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away), a song I had heard a bunch of times. As soon as the music began and Chino, their vocalist, began to sing, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. They were FLAWLESS. The energy, the music, everything was so in line with one another that it was just incredible to witness. I had my good ear plugs in, and it honestly sounded like I was listening to an iPod. At a few points during the first song, I actually caught myself just standing there and watching with my camera at my side. I was so locked in to what the band was doing, I completely forgot why I was even there. I was on cloud nine the entire time.

After realizing I needed to quit just simply watching and “do my job” per say, I spent the rest of my time in the barricade looking through my viewfinder and simply trusting my instincts with settings. I didn’t want to miss anything, so I didn’t even look at the photos I had taken until after the show. This was one of the first times while shooting a concert that I left the barricade and instantly went to the back of the crowd to watch. Songs like Diamond Eyes, Minerva and Swerve City absolutely floored me. Their set is so perfectly outlined that it keeps you wanting more and more, song after song. At most shows, I usually just hang out beside the barricade for a song or two and then go on my way. I had roughly an hour drive back to Guelph, where my friends were letting me crash for the night, but instead of leaving after shooting, I stayed up until the encore.

This show alone actually changed the way I take photographs at a concert, and ever since, I listen to a Deftones song almost every single day. They have become one of my favourite bands and I regret not getting into their music earlier in my life. They turned one individual from someone who barely knows their music into a person that can’t stop listening to them, from just one show. To me, that is pretty incredible and also rare for the newer generation of artists. Moulding a person into a life long fan is not easy, but Deftones did it with ease.

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