It’s been a wild, jam-packed year. So many amazing opportunities and incredible shows – I’m beyond blessed to have found myself sitting in the pit at each of them, shooting to my heart’s content. As I do every year, here’s a recap of my favorite shows (and festivals) of 2019.
All images on this page available for hi-res download, click through to Patreon.
#1 – Camp Anarchy
For the unexpected, last-minute punk rock awesomeness. Also I got invited backstage for The Offspring (by Lee Ving of FEAR himself), but I’m getting ahead of myself. I literally found out I’d be shooting this one four days prior. Yeah, another one of those…
What was a last-minute dash to the airport, frenzied packing, getting the last available rental car and then just hoping I wasn’t going to end up cold and miserable in a festival campground all alone. I flew to Columbus OH, grabbed a car, then some camping gear at Target, some food, water and Red Bull (definitely a lot of Red Bull). It ended up being a crazy awesome camping adventure with new friends, hanging out with FEAR, Sick Of It All and The Offspring and drinking really great beer while casually watching “Fans Against the Bands” dodgeball tournaments, T-rexes in the circle pit and making many new friends. One of whom was the T-rex in the circle pit.
#2 – Exit 111
I’ve never met so many cool people, seen a festival so well-run, met so many incredible rockstars (some of whom actually even remembered me… uh, WHAT?), seen so many of my favorite bands in one place, snapped photos of literal rock legends, and made so many new friends. Literally – this was the best festival of my year because I walked away with an incredible new bunch of friends. And also… Guns N Roses.
#3 – X Ambassadors
X Ambassadors… for the love of live music. I’ve seen them more than a handful of times this year (that’s every year, actually) and I enjoy each one more than the last. Finally, I got to meet them this summer while I was at Firefly Festival in Dover, DE and connected up with their (very awesome) management company. So when they came out to Austin for Mix 94.7’s Merry Mixmas show, a quick couple of emails and I was merrily snapping away at ACL Live’s Moody Theater. What a show.
These guys are just SO DAMN TALENTED. And aside from being very nice humans, putting out great songs, and having a live show I seem to enjoy more every time, this time I finally mastered shooting their set. They are a challenge because Sam just basically never stops moving and the entire thing is super backlit with no front lighting. But I nailed it.
#4 – Matt Maeson
This wasn’t even an artist I really knew of, but (long story) I was personally asked to shoot the set in Austin for a family member. So I packed my camera and headed down to my favorite historic Austin music venue, Scoot Inn, and immersed myself in the magic that is Matt Maeson. I *did* preview his music a few days prior, and realized I loved it, so by the time I saw them live it was highly anticipated and entirely lived up to the hype.
#5 – KAABOO Cayman
I almost don’t need to explain why this was so awesome. But really… for an unexpected, entirely impromptu international trip/photoshoot/story, it worked out shockingly well. We flew down to Grand Cayman for a week, had a few days to explore and then spent two delightful days snapping Duran Duran, Flo Rida, Bryan Adams, Salt n’ Pepa, Maren Morris, Counting Crows, The Chainsmokers, Maxi Priest, Zedd, Jason Derulo, Blondie, Live, Sean Paul and so many more.
The even better part was where I got to announce I was heading down to the Caribbean for a music festival approximately three weeks after the Fyre Fest documentary debacle went down. Absolutely everyone thought I was completely nuts.
#6 – Skid Row
I LOVE 80’s hair metal bands, and while I was very excited to shoot this show, I’ll admit I had pretty minimal expectations. I met them early that evening, and very quickly realized I was very wrong. These guys were so nice, so professional and so damn good at what they do.
By the time I pressed the shutter on my last shot of the evening, this was solidly in my Top Ten Shows – as in ever. ZP is solidly an excellent fill-in for Bach, dare I say just as great. The other guys are so nice, so goofy and so fun to work with… I can’t wait to do it all over again in 2020. And yes, I will be!
#7 – Muse
It’s impossible to go to a Muse show and not love it. Everything about these guys screams EPIC, but they actually engineered their Simulation Theory album FOR the tour (not the other way around). How can it not be stunningly, thrillingly, insanely amazing? From the giant animatronic alien robot attacking Matt Bellamy to Tron-esque choreography involving many lasers, a crystal glove and epic guitar solos. Highly pleasing.
#8 – Love Street Music Fest
A small music festival with HUGE headliners (Walk the Moon, Bishop Briggs, Lovelytheband and Bishop Briggs), my favorite craft beer and a decidedly local, block-party feel. This one has been great every year, but 2019 was the best yet. Also, after seeing Walk the Moon opening for Muse, I fell decidedly head-over-heels for them at Love Street.
#9 – The Struts/Des Rocs
Having followed Des Rocs – definitely one of my favorite up-and-coming artists who really isn’t so up-and-coming anymore – shooting a few shows, his Dallas stop (opening for the Struts) was to be our official interview for his feature story on dRiFFt. It was the Dallas stop of The Struts’ tour at House of Blues. Which is a pretty okay venue and as much as I hate to admit, I hadn’t actually seen the Struts live. Des Rocs’ opening set was hands-down amazing on it’s own, but then The Struts came onstage and proceeded to blow my brain out of my skull (that, dear readers, is one step above Mind = Blown.).
The show was so great, I actually failed to do very well in the photography department. That may possibly have been in part because I attempted to shoot this show mere days after breaking my foot. And somehow I’m okay with this, because I’d do it all over again. The show… not the broken foot part. Definitely adding them to my 2020 list.