Hey anyone that might read what I have to say on a not so frequent basis! Im turning 29, so a gift to myself is that Im hosting a print show in the brewery I manage. Im going to be showing around 30 prints of shows old and new. Let's party.
Pretty exciting day for the family. My big brother Nicholas Thornycroft got promoted to the position of Food and Beverage Director at his job and called me into photograph some food. One of the photographs have been featured on The Eater, which had to accredit two Thornycrofts at once, last time that happened was the police blotter. Always cool to see your name out there.
The rare an elusive "not concert photo" emerges today. Always fun to see what mother nature has to offer, she can be a real bitch, so we should stop fuckin around with her.
Thank you to Butchered and Seasonal Menswear for getting me out of my funk and bringing my camera to shows. I had passed on a few shows recently because of low motivation/energy being stressed out from my full time job, but a good celebration with old friends, a last opportunity to see Seasonal Menswear before their sad departure, and Nick Cvjivoic's birthday request to attempt to get as drunk as I was for his last show I saw on Memorial Day of 2016 (it was pretty staggering, I excused myself from the Liar's Club) got me out of my funk and behind the viewfinder again. Thanks guys, I needed that.
Here are some recent shots of different sorts of shows ranging from noise, trans-Chuck Berry Rock and Roll, to some more Disrotted of course. On the line up I will be shooting the Psychic Twin show next Wednesday and the Pissed Jeans show in May. Currently working on a different and new studio project visualizing inside jokes as well as working generating images for the prospective insert artwork for Disrotted, which I've only been told that this is their album where their musical style "goes to space." So we will see what happens there. Hope you enjoy.
After the rounds of everyone using a shower for the first time in 2-3 days, a clean pair of socks, and a quick nap, we all got to WALK (un-fucking heard of during this tour) to the venue that Disrotted was playing at next. This was the beginning of Anomalous Collision 14, graciously hosted and organized by Self Deconstruction.
First in the line up was some furious grind by Broiler. The front man took it to the crowd early in the set, unafraid of getting physical with everyone. Screaming, head banging, and charging us, made him sweat profusely giving his face paint and really awesome effect. I kinda love this close up shot with 24mm.
I had been looking forward to Self Deconstruction since I saw them last year at El Puente. Memories of shows are always weird and sometimes can be misleading. "Was the band actually that good? Did they actually do that on stage? Was it really that loud?" Sometimes all these things can fuck with my actual reception of the show where I end up a little disappointed. That definitely is not the case with this band. They delivered on all fronts re-upping my nostalgia.
The drummer was exactly as amazing as last, the guitarist was wearing the same dress and shredding, and the vocalist was eviscerating her vocal chords just as sharply as before. They truly are that intense, frenetic, chaotic, detailed, and impressive. Hands down one of my favorites from this tour.
Sithter was an unexpected beauty of a show. Really weird stoner rock, with elements of doom, and a very psychedelic edge to it, even in their choice of garb. One thing that I love about the Japanese music scene is that they are 100% committed to their image. If the want to be crust punk, they are the crustiest. If they want to be vampire punk, their face is painted and no amount of sweat is taking that off. These dudes were the extreme of everything that their music represented. Very excellent.
I have to apologize to quAng duc Asylum, this particular night, getting close to the end of a tour, the exhaustion of the previous day's travel to Osaka and back, I had to get really wasted. Definitely drunker than any other show of tour at that point (which is definitely saying something) and I was out buying whiskey during their set. I thought I could make it back in time but I blew it.
I feel like these photos definitely have that drunk filter on them. Softer focus than usual, some shots were very non-traditional to my style, others were very traditional, like alcohol was turning me into a swinging pendulum of my own confidence level with my camera.
Even though I was experimenting a little bit, the dudes stayed the course of emptying the magazine as far as volume goeson the crowd. Last year Earthdom was the loudest show of the tour (this year that award goes to Yokohama thanks to the Su19b dudes bringing their gear) and it was a close second. I love watching the full extension of John's drums sticks coming down on the set, as if he was an iron worker and he was drumming in a bolt on some structure on a bad day.
Im pretty fuzzy on how the night actually ended, but i'm sure it finished with paying respects and saying goodbye to friends and everyone at the show, buying more beer as most of us woke up with half finished beers and a for me a half buried bottle of whiskey.
This day was both one of the worst days and best days. The criteria for the worst day is as follows:
1. Some of us slept maybe two hours, others couldn't sleep at all, before hustling to a bus station in Shinjuku at five AM.
2. There was no possible way of sleeping on the 8 hour bus to Osaka, generally one of the most uncomfortable things you could possibly imagine. All of our Japanese friends were hilariously calling us "cheapskates" for the rest of the tour.
3. Our stomachs felt like garbage from only eating Seven Eleven rice balls all day at the rest stops on the way to Osaka.
4. When we got to Osaka, we went to the wrong address for the venue, (apparently there are a million places named Bear's in Japan we found out) and had to drop 3,000 yen on a cab to get to the right venue on time.
5. The first two bands that played literally turned off every light in the venue and I couldn't make photos.
6. After the show we again had to hustle back to the bus station for another 8 hour bus that no one could sleep on keeping some of us on hour 48 of no really substantial rest.
7. For the second year in a row we only got to spend a half hour of exploratory time in one of the coolest spots in the world.
The Criteria for the Best Day is as follows:
1. The first two bands although not photographed were incredible. First a noise bassist the generated droney bass only soundscapes, the second was a drummer with alot of his set connected to a series of effect pedals, with a very high level competency on his kit.
2. This may have been Disrotted's best set of the night. They collaborated with Osaka's noise producer Guilty Connector for this set and his noise added an extra perfect layer to Disrotted's already harshness. I wish this guy could have done one more show with Disrotted on this tour, but was happy to be able to experience it the one time.
3. Ferocious X, a crust punk noise band, played and it was a sight to see. Turned up to eleven, attacking the crowd, no pauses, and no retreat. These dudes ruled.
4. Finally, just to be in that tiny basement bar where thousands and thousands of excellent bands have played was amazing enough. Just staring at the wall with all the band signatures of Brutal Truth, the Locust, and so so much more. It was a very awesome day despite all the traveling and not sleeping.
Many thanks to Guilty Connector for his hospitality and I hope to see him play again soon.
Another day and we are still running around. Even though there is less travel involved this year opposed to last year, I definitely feel as if we are constantly in transit. Wake up, shower (maybe), have a boss coffee, figure out the trains, get to the venue, set up the merch table, then start shooting, break down merch table, start drinking, get back to where ever we are sleeping, finish drinking, sleep maybe for a few hours, wake up and do it again. I maybe have about thirty minutes of time on my ass and then its right back at it, but it feels good. Exhausted, smelly, boozy, but good.
I missed the first set of the night because Ryohei and I had some much needed beers while walking down the sidewalk of Asakusa, a quick relief from smoke filled venues, and noise overexposure, but I didn't miss Funeral Moth, my second day of seeing their set in a row. That's how good they are, I could see this band everyday for a week and not be bored of it.
The wonderful one woman doom project called 目玉湯鯨, or The Eye of the Whale, blew all of our minds. It was hard to pin this one down, slow repetitious bass tones with programmed drums and various noise, its one of those shows that only Japan can produce. Her performance onstage is a perfect reflection of her music, swaying slowly, receding to the back of the stage at times of pause, incredibly well thought out, performed, heavy doom.
注射針混入豚 (or Needle Contaminated Pork) cautiously and meticulously approached the stage, donning an anti-bacterial suit, gas mask. After a few minutes of carefully realigning everything he just erupted from minute one, charging into the middle of the crowd and started blasting some beatdown riffs over programmed death metal drums.
I actually had a thought today that I was bored with regular day to day operations, and I couldn't figure it out. Then finally, I realized that I wasn't being assaulted by Su19b and Disrotted every night with a gross negligence to the wellbeing of my ear drums. I miss the sights of people collapsing from the weight of maddening sound.
It feels a lot like withdrawal, like nothing in Chicago is loud enough now. I can't really think of two like minded bands that could tour to that massive sound capacity, a new tolerance level has been set, and I might never get back to that spot.
At the end of every Disrotted set, Adam usually stands still as Dean's last guitar notes ring out, and that ringing becomes not only the swan song for that frequency of noise but also for any preconceived notion that you had seen a loud band before. After a quick dinner with all the musicians, our main dude Bernie directed us to the hotel so that we could have approximately three hours of sleep before the most grueling trip of tour.
The Disrotted dudes and I woke up on Ryo's living room floor and were served a traditional New Years soup that is supposed to be cleansing for the body (which is very much needed after all the booze we have been drowning in). We enjoyed a nice walk through a very large Buddhist temple, threw some change in the Capitalist Buddha and prayed for good fortune.
Couple of trains later we were back at one of my favorite venues in the world, El Puente. Last year we had the most amazing experience by seeing Sedem Minut Stratchu, Funeral Moth, Final Exit, Su19b, Self Deconstruction, Dark Horse, and a ton more that Im totally spacing out on, in a bar that 50 percent of the space is taken up by gear. Su19b did not hesitate to bring enough gear to fill an arena with sound, let alone a space about the size of your college dorm room.
I actually wasn't planning on drinking as much this time around, but Ryohei had other plans. He is a craft beer nut just as much as I am, so he took me over to Thrash Zone to enjoy some Yokohama Locals. The owner, brewer, and lead bartender was working and we talked shop over a couple of delicious (and pretty goddamn strong) beers. He is a shredder who plays in a band called Marlboro Man, was incredibly kind and his beers were goddamn perfect. We all chatted over a live video of Down and checked out all the extreme music memorabilia covering walls. Definitely a wonderful experience that I will cherish for a long time.
Then came the show. Funeral Moth opened up, and played unusually quiet for all the equipment splayed about. The volume didnt detract from the performance, as they displayed qualities of the Japanese music scene's dedication with every note being perfectly timed, every arrangement meticulously orchestrated, and still dropped me to another place in my mind. These shows are never as "exciting" as the grindcore, noisecore, and hardcore that Japan has to offer, but the cerebral experience is irreplaceable. You transfer to another state of mind during these sets or simply start examining everything in your life to intense magnification. These guys have been drumming up a lot of positive chatter in the states and I will definitely back it up.
Next up was Su19b, blackend powerviolence played at an excruciating high volume. These guys are the definition of a "tight" band. Every one onstage is in sync with one another without any visual cues, and the intensity is brutal. The level of volume that they played at made my ribs vibrate to a nauseous level. This was the start of my descent into jet lag, volume exposure, and being generally drunk.
Then Disrotted answers the challenge that Ryohei had decreed, a 90-minute set. An hour and a half of the slowest, brutalist, aggressively noisy, pounding, crushing, and violently loud, music known to humankind.
With all the cabs and heads in the place, Dean was a kid in a candy store with unlimited credit. He proceeded to devise a plan to make me sick with sound. If you know Dean at all, you know he is truly one of the sweetest, kindest, most considerate human beings on the face of the earth. However, when he has a guitar in his hands, he will try to make you puke by playing so loud. He really laid down the hammer during this set as I was having problems finding the focus on the ring when he was playing because my body was shaking so much from the savage levels being torpedoed upon my ears.
Not gonna lie, I (amongst many others) passed the fuck out during this set. It was a killer. The density of sound and the length of the set, combined with jet lag, and a coupla really amazing beers caused me to crash at the half way point. I WASN'T THE ONLY ONE THOUGH AND I HAVE SAT THROUGH THREE OF THEIR PRACTICES SO IT WAS THE FOURTH TIME OF SEEING THAT SET, MAKOTO, WHO MADE FUN OF ME FOR PASSING OUT.
The set clocked out at exactly one hour and thirty two minutes. They delivered the payload and we were all crushed from it. I woke up to catch the last ten minutes and just observe the devastation splayed about. After words we walked down the street to a friend of Shiggy's (the man) and passed out on his floor. Next up was getting out to Kurawood in Asakusa for some of the most visually appealing shows of the tour.
Disrotted is back in Japan, and they have graciously requested me to accompany them for the second year in a row. Naturally it took one or two days of us blacking out throughout Ikebukuro, attending a lengendary Japanese Wrestling show, roaming temples, consuming copious amounts of ramen, boss coffee, cow tongue, Takoyaki, and Ryokucha Hai, to reacclimatize ourselves with the drastic atmospheric change from the cold, dreary, Chicago. I could go into great detail of more of these events but for the sake of this tour blog, I will try to keep it to just music related items only. When things finally slowed down (and we kinda sobered up), we took the train down to Denechofu, where we met Ryo of Guevnna, who drove us out to Yamanashi for the first round of shows at Kazoo Hall.
A line up consisting of mostly punk, hardcore, and powerviolence bands, the high adrenaline atmosphere provided by Yamanashi locals Lost Without Hand Grenade, as well as two of Tokyo's Hardcore bands Lost Control and NoLA, kept the crowd's blood pressure high. To what seems to be the standard in Japan, all bands were great and played at a rapid fire rate. It was amazing as I could see everyone laughing, having a good time, not aware of the impending bummer that Disrotted had been preparing to unleash on them.
On the short list of my favorite Japanese bands, Guevnna always maintains high ground. Self proclaimed "disco doom" playing dark, heavy rock riffs, with shredding vocals by the front man Ryo Yamada, and all backed up by disco drum beats creates a heroin level of addictiveness. Their greatest trait might be that they don't lose themselves in seriousness of the doom, metal, or heavy scene, often displayed by the sincerity of Ryo on stage. Constantly moving, never relaxing, cracking jokes, imitating band members when there is a break in vocals, Ryo is a prime example of an individual that can take great material to stage and take the show to a higher level of excellence. Even though the songs are very very heavy, the show is a party atmosphere, almost of positivity which set the stage for Disrotted to destroy all of that.
I may have mentioned that these guys play heavy, glacial paced, doom before, but I what I haven't mentioned is how excited they get before hand. I sincerely have never seen anyone so genuinely excited to ruin someones day with sheer violence via sound. Generally seeing Disrotted play in very dimly lit Chicago venues with little to no light, Kazoo hall provided on stage additives to create a dense fog that accentuated the god shattering volume of Disrotted.
Disrotted pummeled and punished the crowd into an exhausted mess. The high speed, high intensity, almost feel good vibe of the night came to a twenty car pileup halt. It was grim watching John Finaldi beat droningly beating the shit out of the drums, with Adam Jennings howling an arcane language. Dean Costello guitar passing through both guitar and bass amps created a nauseating drone that will haunt the dreams of anyone who forgot earplugs for this show.
This show shut down the night, we loaded our stuff into Ryo's van and drove back to Denenchofu where he graciously let us sleep at his place. Spent the next morning making polaroids at a large temple, then mentally preparing ourselves for Yokohama, where Disrotted was challenged to play a 90 minute set.
Finally after months and months of group texts and inside jokes we are offically moving. We've all been working our asses off, saving money, practicing, playing extra shows, and now its finally happening. Currently stopped in Korea for a flight transfer and wanted to throw up some pics from the last few shows and practices in Chicago. Soon we go to the Tokyo Dome for some New Japan Wrestling.
I forgot to mention Im not just a concert photographer. I sometimes shoot product for restaurants and breweries. Just, ya know, if you got any jobs or anything laying around.
I don't know why it has taken me this long to see The Men live. I was first introduced to these guys when I graduated college and "Please Don't Go Away" became the furious anthem to my then stampeded heart. Getting older and into heavier music Leave Home (although the precedent of Open Your Heart) became more appealing to me, drowning out anything and everything in my life with "Think" and "L.A.D.O.C.H." Then The Men created another representation of what they are with the supremely noisey and loud blue collar rock, giving me a mellower outlet for long work shifts and sleepless nights tending to my ailing father's needs. These vignettes of situational anxiety and the music that accompanies it shows anything from my perspective as a photographer, its that was hard to make a photo of a band that is so diverse in their catalogue and presentation. Exemplified between these two shots, made minutes apart in two different songs of their set at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago. The facial expression and the noise-punk-folk ambiguous rock and roll produced swings erratically.
I love Dean Costello (guitarist featured in previous post), even when he is not playing he unscrewed one of the only two light sources in the basement of this house in Humboldt Park, making my task difficult again. Whatever, more practice for Japan when I tour with Disrotted in January.
xAbruptx opened the evening for our Slovakian grind brothers Sedem Minut Strachu, playing seriously brutal grind, unforgiving drums and sharing vocals with his partner and guitarist. These two definitely set the tone for the evening. His pulsating head vein seemed to be a very intriguing component of his set, as much as it is protruded out, it cannot compensate for their intensity. Felt really nice to return to the 50mm for this shot, as I havent given that lens enough attention recently.
Disrotted is one of my favorite bands to see live. These guys have got to be one of the most sonically impairing live bands to experience. Ive seen people get sick, collapse, cover their ears and run out of their sets in the last two years of shooting their shows. What I hate about them is that they never turn on any goddamn lights on stage. Reduced to shooting low f.stop, slow shutter speeds and trying to keep the ISO in the mid ranges, shooting their shows is a lot like how they play: patient, brutal and glacial paced. Cheers dudes.
Caught these guys at the Empty Bottle opening up for METZ, really chaotic, noisy, but complex punk music. This lead singer was so hard to pin down, I must have gone through dozens of snaps and constantly changing my settings before I could wrangle him with the 24mm. Really fun show and I reccomend everyone check out their bandcamp and buy some stuff off them.
If it is one thing I have learned is to never finish shooting (as long as you are not being a nuisance of course). So many times I have shot concerts and thought to myself "this is the shot, I am happy" and then miss out on so many different moments, angles, falling light, costume changes, collapses, disasters, miracles, and so forth. It has made me a little neurotic in which I shouldn't ever leave anywhere without my camera, but of course deciding what in fact is worth remembering and what is critical to my eye is another essay that I am working through. In the simplest sense of shooting concerts, I try my best to capture everything and share the most integral images. With Thee Oh Sees, that is a challenge in its self. I have never seen a more animated, and generally interesting looking front man in my days of seeing concerts. I must have drawn 50 very usable images after seeing them 4 days in a row in Austin, Texas. This one in particular excites me because the beer can flying out of focus towards John Dwyer, whose face is in anguish from his exertion, silently shows the rowdiness of the crowd without the actual crowd. Happy to say this print is in a very good home now.
Just got a text from Adam, telling me that the new Disrotted album Divination, out on Nerve Altar tomorrow, features some photographs I made of the band in 2015. I'm beyond grateful for the support and opportunities that Adam, John, and Dean have provided for me over the years and look forward to going back to Japan with them in 2017.
I hate shooting at the Empty Bottle, even though it is one of the best venues in Chicago to see live music, it is also one of the worst for lighting. Normally I have been shooting from the right side of the stage, with a more discreet lens, but felt like I should try something different. Besides the drummer of Metz, the Bassist and the Guitarist both look like generally normal dudes, and since this was a very familiar stage I felt like the only really interesting part is how intensely stretched, anguished, and sweaty the face of the guitarist is.
Couple of shots of NoBunny playing in Highwood, Illinois, so lucky to have gotten out work at midnight after a twelve hour shift to catch this late show.