Anatomy of a New Smoke Machine

Life does have its weird way of coming back around. Back in the early nineties, the band I was playing in had no interest in playing at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ. For whatever the reason back then, it had no appeal to us. And now I am there on a regular basis.

About 18 months ago I picked up a gig with the music review site, Speak into My GoodEye, and this started a regular weekly adventure for me shooting bands every Monday night at the Wonder Bar. The Wonder Bar is one of the premiere music venues in Asbury Park, offering some great local music as well as national touring acts coming through.  Recently, sound man extraordinaire Billy Colledge from Asbury Audio installed a new smoke machine and I came across a set a shots that perfectly emulate its nature.

I love smoke. It makes everything look so much better, giving depth and personality to the photos.  Tough when it hides the drummers, but so cool under the stage lights. And for those on stage right, we are almost guaranteed of a good photo. Red lights still kill, but black and white is beautiful.

The following shots depict the beginning of the waft of smoke and finally overtaking the stage and creating some striking images as a result:

Just Before:

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and here it comes

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My two favorite images from the whole sequence

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I often find it is the simple things that excite me, but there is nothing simple about capturing images conditions.  The musician in the photo is Andrew Milea, front man for Wild Americans. He has a great look and a super groove. If you are local, stop by on a Monday night and check out the tunes. And keep your eyes peeled for some other great shows that go down at the venue.

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

A little Point and Shoot at the Summer Stage

Legendary Asbury Park, NJ venue The Stony Pony kicked off their Summer Stage Outdoor series in grand fashion with a sold out show courtesy of Halestorm. Along for the ride were supporting acts The Pretty Reckless and Starset. This show had been on my radar since it was announced back in late winter and my wife had been expressing her interest in it rather enthusiastically as well. Of course I had ulterior motives with my desires.

Waiting till two days before the show to secure our tickets, the event promoter was doing the stingy with the press pass so I hit up the box office for three and made sure the Canon G12 was charged and loaded. If you live in NJ and are planning to go to a show, do yourself a favor and make the trip to the box office instead of purchasing online and paying service fees. Well, your choice, but I thought the $40 savings was pretty nice. Yes, I was bummed that my trusty steed would remain stagnant for the evening, thinking it would be a great way to start the summer, but it is what it is, move on.

We arrived to find the line wrapped around 75% of the building, holy crap. It moved fairly quick though and after a bite and a brew went to secure the spot.

Close

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but not that close as witnessed by this shot of The Pretty Reckless.

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Starset was the first to hit the stage and I was not all that familiar with them but did actually know two of their songs. Very Breaking Benjamin with more Moog. I like their sound, they are brilliant minds and stand for a great cause, but I could do without the outfits.

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In between all the heads, arms and cell phones in the air I managed to get a few shots off. The G12 is a great little compact camera under normal conditions. Music photography is not by any means normal. Most of the photos from the night have a rather healthy crop to them and I was pleased they did not lose that much detail when cropped.

The Pretty Reckless was next and the push forward had begun. Let the bracing begin. And the photos of people taking pictures and videos on their phones. At least no one pulled out an iPAD.

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My wife and daughter got to meet and hang out a little with Lizzy Hale a couple of years ago and have been fans ever since. And of course they turned me onto them as well.

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The lighting on the wings was terrible for my little shooter and they all went to the trash bin. I have become very critical of stuff and have no reservations about getting rid of files if I do not like them. Plus they take up way too much space.

This next photo I have some uneasy feelings about. I do not use the “P” word much, or maybe, and thankfully, I have not had to use it or even think it that much. BUT, look closely. Double neck, looks cool, yada, yada… However, there are six pegs on each neck…What’s up with that?

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At the end there was much rejoicing and everyone was happy. Watching Lizzy’s brother Arejay on drums was awesome.  One thing I did not know and thought was very cool – Their dad played bass for them when they were just starting out.

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Getting to shoot and hear many of the bands coming through Asbury Park has indeed allowed me to become a bit spoiled. You can check out my musical adventures and the guys I shoot for here.  I do have a few things on deck for Twilight and Dusk so I will be back soon.

Thanks for stopping by, Till next time…

Phil

Asbury Music Awards: Photos

This one is all about the photographs.

The Asbury Music Awards were held at the Legendary The Stone Pony recently. Had an excellent time.  Had an even better time capturing some amazing local bands on the Stone Pony Stage. Been wanting to shoot there for a while and finally got the chance. Almost like I was in heaven. You can find a complete list of winners here. Some of the choice shots from my night.

 

Deal Casino, A Coffee House and 3200 iso

I was at a loss on how to begin this story. I wanted to talk about a couple of things specifically photography related like how my 7D was cranked to 3200 iso and I was literally terrified by that number, as necessary as it was. My camera is not a big fan of such high numbers. Word has it the new model fairs much, much better with that setting. We shall see, but until then lets just talk about the band I went to see and an early gift.

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When queuing up HECK, the brand new EP from Deal Casino, the first thing I noticed was the big smile gracing my face from the opening track, Bang Bang Bang. Pumping bass lines, a driving drum track, spirited guitars and killer melodies. Filled with energy and movement. This is their third EP, finally had a chance a couple of weeks ago to see them live and I took it, where have I been?

I am by no means a music reviewer, my stories are told through photographs, so I will leave an official review to the pros, but as a fan, my thoughts are that this quartets latest release cements them even deeper as a member of the hierarchy in the New Jersey Music scene.

Personally, I am more about the feeling of a song rather than a meaning, I do not key in on what is being said, too much room for interpretation. I do however pay very close attention to how it is being said, the progressions, the cadence and the rhythms a song contains.

The second song, Fortyfive, has a most distinct and grungy edge to it,epitomizes the sounds of alternative punk. Downtown is anthemic, (yes it really is!) and Flying Cars takes you on an emotional journey and when it is over you are left, missing, wanting more. So you play the whole thing again. A cycle that just keeps repeating itself.

The official EP Release party will be at the Asbury Lanes on Dec 11th. If you get the chance be sure and take in the show. You will get the EP!

Back to the beginning and this camera thing. I had the chance to check the guys out during a stripped down, acoustic style, electric set at the Revolutionary Lounge in Toms River. Coffee house atmosphere, very intimate setting. My wife told me I should stop serenading the people next to us during the set, so I started capturing some images and doing what I do.

I will be resuming regular programming here for a bit as I have a couple of shoots I want to get done. But I do have a feeling Deal Casino will be a regular topic in these parts, at least until someone gets a hold of them and takes them on the adventure of their lives…

Thanks for stopping by, till next time…

Phil

 

Deal Casino Inspired

I have been privileged to see many great bands over the past four months while shooting for Speak into My good Eye but have never been inspired to really write about any of them. I always left that to the boss. Inspiration though, sometimes hits when you least expect it. Coincidentally enough, there has been one band that has been on my radar to see perform, that I have heard many great things about, but it seemed my schedule was always in conflict when they were hitting the stage. I recently got that chance, and the inspiration followed.

I have always considered myself somewhat of a music snob, I am eclectic but based in an alternative hard rock genre. I seek talent, passion, energy and presence in my musical endeavors. Pick me up, keep me up and allow me to put ear phones in and turn  it up.

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Deal Casino, a band out of Asbury Park, NJ, gave me just that recently. Such an incredibly amount of emotion coming out of four individuals that are putting their stamp on the New Jersey music scene. They have been playing together on and off in different incarnations since middle school, but it is the last 18 months as their current configuration that things have really sparked for this group. What I witnessed was a well rehearsed performance with an incredible amount of passion and energy, pouring their heart and soul into well composed songs that keep you moving, watching, making you afraid if you let your attention sway you will be missing something.

I have always believed that it is easier to identify and appreciate an artist, or in this case a group of artists, if you see them live, this is why we go to shows. I have not felt this much excitement about a band since, well, a really long time. One of the long time veteran photographers on the scene said they are far and by the best band in the area and I most certainly do agree. New Jersey residents, this is the one group you must see in a small club while you can, before long they are going to be in larger venues with larger crowds spreading their sounds to a larger following. To all, be sure and check out their most recent video release here.

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Stayed tuned for the release of their latest EP on December 11. One I am looking forward to for sure.

Thanks for stopping by, till next time!

Phil