The Beauty of an Aftershow

The night air is cold, but not yet cold enough where you can see your breath. (But what did we all expect on a February night? Even if the high for the day was 60 degrees.)

Stars shine above like little spotlights aimed at the earth below.

Everyone is standing around the clock tower, waiting, and it’s one of the biggest aftershow crowds I’ve seen.

And then Jon appears at the bottom of the hill, coming toward us with his trusty guitar and harmonica. Once again, he still has a few more songs left in him.

He doesn’t do them every night. He wants them to feel special, not like something that’s expected. So when there are still notes bursting to escape into the night, he’ll set them free.

At every aftershow I’ve been to it’s always amazed me how music has the power to gather together complete strangers. Of course people come with their friends, maybe a family member, but it’s the people they met that night, the connections they make, that’s equally as amazing. In that moment everyone is strung together by a single bond – music.

And that’s the beauty of an aftershow.

The Beautiful Chaos of an Aftershow

The buses were still parked in front of the venue – The House of Blues.

Switchfoot’s gear was still being loaded into the trailer.

A small crowd of people lingered, knowing the possibility of what could come next.

They were waiting for him. They were waiting for that Tweet, that Facebook post, those wonderful words that would prolong the magic of the night.

The crew continued loading the band’s gear as people stood, scattered, on the sidewalk near the buses with their eyes on their phones. After an hour, the message came through. Anyone who understood Jon’s tendency for doing aftershows knew what was happening as soon as they saw a mass of people moving toward the back end of the Red Sox stadium – The Green Monster. Sure enough, Jon had a few more songs left in him.

He walked down the sidewalk, guitar in hand. People followed and surrounded him. He crossed the street, scouting a place to stop and sing, eventually coming across a pair of plastic trash cans which he climbed on top of in the way only Jon would do.

That’s the chaotic beauty of an aftershow, you never know what’s going to happen. People crowd around, not knowing what songs he’s going to sing. Sometimes he doesn’t even know what songs he going to sing. He’ll ask the crowd what they want to hear. He’ll give them option and play a song based on what the people say.

The songs are stripped down, acoustic. There’s something special about there only being a guitar and a man’s voice to carry the notes. Most times people will lend their voices too and raise the notes higher as the melody floats through the night.

That’s the beauty of an aftershow. There’s no drums, no electric guitars, no microphones, no lights, no stage. There’s simply a single guitar, voices and the gift of music.

California: Surfing and Music

It was the perfect day on the beach – full of surfing and music.

SwitchfootAfter breakfast, I made my way down to the ocean where the surfing events were taking place. (I wasn’t part these events. At least not in the sense of actually surfing. No, these guys, even the kids, could surf circles around me.) I surveyed the crowd, picked out the surfers and finally found a good place to set up camp. (And by camp I mean a good place to stand and take pictures.)

The sun warmed the back of my neck and bare shoulders as I watched the surfers ride the waves. (Not always all the way to shore. Sometimes they took a spill.) I raised my camera constantly to captures some action shoots, silently yelling at myself for not bringing a longer lens, but was still happy with the pictures I ended up with. There were times I was so captivated and focused on what I was doing that I didn’t realize how far I was wading out into the ocean. Well, I didn’t realize until the next wave came and sent water up my shorts.

I followed the surfers out of the water, along the beach, and finally found where they wereSwitchfoot all standing. As much as I enjoy a good action shot, I love candid pictures. These are the moments that can’t be made or recreated. I believe candid moments capture the soul.

It’s the same with music. When I photograph an artist, I feel like I’m capturing a moment that shows how in touch they are with the music they’re playing. I’ve photographed a lot of bands over the years and Switchfoot has always been one of my favorites. When I watch them live, they seem to have the music running through them. They believe in the songs they play and the words they sing. For me, not only does it make for a great show, but great photos as well.

Switchfoot put on one heck of a show. Actually, I should say shows. First there was Auction Night where they played a short set after raising money for local charities. There were multiple items people could bid on and win with the six charities splitting the money. The guys played a tight set, including three songs from their new album, Where The Light Shines Through.

Switchfoot at the Switchfoot Bro-AmThen there’s (what I like to call) beach day. This is a day full of surfing and music. I’ve already mentioned the surfing portion, but the music is equally as entertaining. Once again, the guys played three songs off their new album, which was released that week – “Float,” “Where the Light Shines Through,” and “Live It Well.”

During the show they brought several children up on stage from an area school and let them sing “The World You Want.” They were part of VH1 Save the Music, which brings music back into schools.

Over all the band preformed a tight set with Jon making his way through the crowd. In order to get back on stage he laid back as if getting ready to crowd surf and let the crowd Switchfoot at the Switchfoot Bro-Amraise him. Drew did what he does best on stage – shred. Tim showed off his bass skills. (Especially during “Float,” which is a very bass heavy song.) Chad kept the beat going and Jerome played some very lovely piano parts.

I captured so many great moments with my camera and was thrilled to be right in the thick of it and part of this amazing event. So, yes, a day on the beach with surfing, music and my camera – perfect.

To view more surfing pictures please click here.

To view Auction Night picture please click here.

To view beach day concert pictures please click here.

MuteMath Rocks the Stage Yet Again

Ten years ago I saw MuteMath for the first time. Back then they were an opening band playing short set, hoping to gain some recognition. They already had a small following and I had just discovered their music, which I immediately fell in love with, and seeing them live was a completely different experience.

I was a senior in high school. Music was one of the few places I escaped and live music was an addiction of mine. Not only did I love the performance, but the feel of the music vibrating through my body as the base seemed to match my heartbeat is something that can only be experienced.

At the show I saw ten years ago, MuteMath was opening for Matchbox Twenty at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY. Their live performance captured me from the first chord to the last.

And seeing them live is still as great as I remember. In fact, if anything, they’re even better.

Last week I had the opportunity to see them for a second time. Their Vitals Tour made a stop in New York City where they played Terminal 5. I made sure to take full advantage of it. I’ve followed their music, listening to them grow as musicians, but have never had a chance to see them on their own headlining tour until now.

The venue has three floors and from the balcony I could see the energy roll through the crowd like a wave. I, of course, could also not stop myself from taping my foot and dancing. And there was no lost of energy on stage either as the band played a 22 song set. (Not to mention you have to wonder how wild a drummer is going to be when you whiteness him duck taping headphones to his head.)

MuteMathOne of the things that’s great about this band is that they’re interactive with the crowd. Everyone seems to love a good crowd surf and the band’s lead singer, Paul Meany, gave the crowd just that – twice. Once he threw himself into the crowd. Hands rose to catch him before carrying him half way across the sea of people and back toward the stage. The second time was at the end. They brought out something the resembled an air mattress with lights around the outside and lifted it into the crowd. Then, backing up on the stage, he ran and leaped, landing safely on the soft surface. It was then passed across the sea of hands as he continued to sing and attempted to stand.

Then there is their ever talented drummer, Darren King, who not only has a habit of MuteMathbreaking drumsticks, but broke out the light-up gloves. He came down off the stage with four gloves, complete with lights, and handed them to four different people in the audience. He then proceeded to high-five them, keeping the beat, while everyone watched the back of the gloves light up.

The band played a good variety of songs which covered all their albums. Songs like “Monument,” “Stratosphere” and “Light Up” off their most recent album, Monument, along with classics such as “Typical” from their self titled album.

MuteMath destroyed Terminal 5. And I remember watching them doing the same ten years ago at the Times Union Center. If you ever have a chance to see them live, please do so. I’m fairly confident in saying that you won’t regret it. I believe they have only become better with age. I can’t wait to see what this talented group of guys has in store for the future.

Full Set List:
Stratosphere
Chaos
Prytania
Clipping
Light Up
All I See
Noticed
Vitals
Joy Rides
Composed
Used To
Blood Pressure
Control
You Are Mine
Armistice
Best of Intentions
Bulletproof
Spotlight
Remain
Monument
Reset
Typical

If you would like to see more photos from the show you may do so by visiting my photo page.

“Let Us Sing Before Our Time Runs Out”

For those who know me best, as well as those of you who have been following this blog, it will come as no surprise that music is a huge part of my life. I’m the one who quotes song lyrics and breaks out into song without warning. It’s always been that way; a habit I can’t break. So it will, possibly, come as no surprise that a majority of the music I listen to touches my life. I hear the melodies in my head and the lyrics whispering in my ears and I think to myself, “This song makes a good point.”

Recently, Jon Foreman released the last installment to his The Wonderlands project – Dawn. The last song on this EP is titled “Before Our Time.” This song commanded my attention on the first listen and I immediately loved it. The basic message is that time flies and we should live while we have the chance.

“Let us sing before our time runs out,” sings Jon in the chorus. I take “sing” as a metaphor for “live.” And I think he’s most certainly right – lets live before our time runs out…“our time is now.”

The truth is that we only have one life. At least one life on earth, depending on what you believe. But, regardless, this world has so much to offer. There’s so many things to see, places to go and explore, people to meet and learn from and an infinite number of possibilities.

I want to experience as much as I can while I have the chance.

Put simply, I want to live.

I don’t want to look back on my life and have regrets. The truth is, I have enough already. And I don’t want anymore.

Within recent years, I’ve found that life has a way of telling you things. Of course, we have to be willing to listen. I guess I wasn’t ready to listen just yet, or I was oblivious to the things life was telling me, because I missed every single sign. But now I get it. I recognize the signs, the hints, the arrows pointing me in the right direction. Or maybe that’s called faith. I have that too.

The point I’m attempting to make is that this song is a reminder that time is fleeting. Time doesn’t stop for anyone. It’s constant. It’s continuously marching forward. And life, life is meant to be experienced, so we should “sing before our time runs out” because “our time is now.”

A Birthday Message

Let’s show Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot, some love, as he turns 39 today!

SwitchfootHappy Birthday Jon! You are a lyrical genius. You always give it 110% (most times much more) and leave everything you have on stage. You take the time to preform after shows and share your music with the world. What your music has done for me is something I may never be able to put into words (but thank you nonetheless). The way express yourself onstage and feel the music makes me believe in the songs more then I already do. Your energy is contagious, as is your kindness. You have one of biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met. Thank you for everything you do, all the sacrifices, all the travel, all the tours. Thank you for making beautiful music and sharing it with all of us. We appreciate it and we appreciate you. I hope you have a great day. I wish you all the best, always.