October 5, 2008.
The Sound Academy. Toronto, Ontario.
MGMT.......... Huh? Where's the photos? Well, as we arrived at the Sound Academy shortly before our photo call for MGMT the lovely Live Nation rep told us she had some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that no-one gets to shoot the MGMT show, the good news is that we still get to shoot Beck. I'd actually been planning on boycotting the Beck shoot due to the "We own your photos in perpetuity throughout the universe" release foisted on us by his publicist. So, I caved and signed the damn release and shot Beck. With gas prices the way they are I wasn't gonna go home with an empty camera.
MGMT's set was fantastic. Psychedelic/electro-pop/country/rock with a dreamy frontman. I really dug their set much more than the part set I saw at the recent Virgin Festival.
This is where I'd put some usually put some MGMT photos. That aint gonna happen. Lets hope they fit back into those britches they seem to have gotten too big for and lets some photogs in again.
The headliner was Beck. With a spartan stage only adorned with their instruments and amps, and lights like you'd see on an old time movie set Beck and his band came on stage and launched into Loser. Another photog and later I discussed how truly cool it was to be in the pit shooting Beck while he played Loser.
Of course, once we photographers had shot our three songs the real lightshow began. A large screen at the back of the stage was covered in what looked like about a million LEDs and was displaying this crazy abstract video throughout the set.
From beginning to end the set was tight and kept it's momentum. At no point did I find myself staring at my shoes or counting the cracks in the wall. I arrived as a casual fan and left with a new found interest in Beck and his music.
In the wake of Canada's national Broadcaster "The CBC" dropping the ball puck and losing the iconic "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song Moe Carlson and Luke Hoskin of Canada's Protest The Hero have submitted an entry to "Canada's Hockey Anthem Challenge". The contest was launched after The CBC failed in negotiations with the song's copyright holder and the music was snapped up by rival Canadian network CTV. The winner of this contest will become the closest thing to royalty we have in this country (Next to the Queen of England that is).
The Molson Amphitheatre. Toronto, Ontario.
August 13, 2008
Testament took the stage to a fairly empty Amphitheatre at the sooooo un-metal hour of 5:30. Their short set had some old favourites, but it was the new material from the latest The Formation of Damnation that really impressed me. "More Than Meets The Eye" and "The Formation of Damnation" are really good songs. Also impressive was lead guitarist Alex Skolnick. Skolnick, who performs with a Jazz Trio on the side shreds effortlessly. As I walked to my seat after my time in the photo pit I overheard several people remark on his playing. The whole band looked as though they were having a blast on stage while still staying metal and flipping the horns at the appropriate times. Lead vocalist Chuck Billy remarked that the Toronto crowd was the best yet. Whether it was standard stage banter or true we'll never know, but those in attendance were definitely into the show.
"We are Motorhead and we play Rock 'n Roll". The incomparable, inimatable, unstoppable Lemmy Kilmister's catch-phrase begin's Motorhead's assault on Toronto metal fans. Judging by the vast array of Motorhead shirts seen on bodies streaming into the Amphitheatre most of the early birds didn't need to be told who was destroying their eardrums. And when I say destroy, I mean it. Their set was among the most sonically devastating I have had the pleasure of hearing. With Mikkey Dee's kick drums reverberating through my chest cavity and threatening to stop my heart, and Lemmy's deliciously distorted Rickenbacker bass the trio (with Phil Campbell on Guitar) tore through a 30 minutes set which featured "Killed By Death", "Overkill" and of course "Ace of Spades". After the set I was compelled to head to the Motorhead merch booth and buy myself a "Everything Louder Than Everything Else" T-Shirt. They had lived up to that seemingly impossible boast.
My first REAL concert experience was Judas Priest live at the CNE Grandstand in Toronto during the summer of 1986. I was dumbstruck at the scale of the spectacle I witnessed that night, and few concerts since then have even come close to matching my memory of "Priest". In the years since, my love of their music has never waivered but I somehow haven't managed to see them in all their live glory. One large consolation was that I did cover the Rob Halford interview at 2007's NXNE. An experience that reignited the fire driving me to see Judas Priest again.
This terrible oversight will change on August 13th when the Metal Masters Tour steamrolls Toronto. Yeah there's Priest headlining, and you've also got Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath fronted by Ronnie James Dio), add to that Motorhead, and (comparatively young upstarts) Testament and I start to get all stupid. This will be Metal 101 taught by Rob Halford, Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio and, Lemmy Kilmister. I'll be there at the very least as a fan with some really good seats. Fingers crossed that I might also be asked to shoot the show.
August 24th will also see our Jeff Barringer in Selma (San Antonio), Texas when the Metal Masters bring their tour come boot camp to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.
Remaining Tour Dates Below:
12th Centre Bell, Montreal, QUE
13th Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON
15th Mohegan Sun, Hartford, Connecticut
16th Post Gazette Pavilion, Pittsburgh, PA
18th DTE Energy Music Theatre, Detroit, MI
19th First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Chicago, IL
21st Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK
22nd Superpages.com Amphitheatre, Dallas, TX
23rd Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Houston, TX
24th Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, San Antonio, TX
26th El Paso County Coliseum, El Paso, TX
27th Journal Pavilion, Albuquerque, NM
28th Cricket Wireless Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ
30th Glen Helen Pavilion, San Bernardino, CA
31st Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA
John Mayer Performs at the Molson Amphitheatre Photos by Clint Gilders - staff photographer
by clint gilders - clubkingsnake staff
The Molson Amphitheatre. Toronto, Ontario
July 7, 2008
The traffic en-route to the Molson Amphitheatre was terrible. It took me 40 minutes to travel 3 kilometres through downtown Toronto. It was only through the grace of the Live Nation rep that I was able to sneak into Colbie's set after the first song. Aside from the house guy I was the only photog shooting Colbie and for Mayer we added a photographer from the Toronto Sun. The photo pit was narrow and didn't stretch in all the way from either side of the stage. You picked your side and hoped you'd called it right. Clint's pearl of wisdom for the day: When shooting a guitar player (like John Mayer) in a situation like this I prefer to shoot from stage right. A right handed guitar player will generally face that way and you won't have the neck and headstock blocking their face. End Clint's pearl of wisdom (for what it's worth). Whatever side you pick you generally get screwed out of interesting angles and diverse shots. C'est la vie, I'm still shooting John Mayer and can take him off my "Bands to shoot before I die" list!
With the show sold out in the extreme and the scalpers ticket brokers asking in the multiple hundreds of dollars for tickets I didn't end up with a review seat. So, I did my "three songs, no flash" from the best seat in the house and was escorted from the building. Made for an early night anyway...... except for the 90 minute drive home and the several hours spent looking at photos. I really need to train myself to wait until morning to look at my photos. Yeah, right. That'll never happen.
I can't tell you what songs Colbie opened with, but I did jot down that John began his set with "Vultures" and "Waiting on the World to Change" from Continuum and closed out my time in the pit with "Clarity" off of Heavier Things. For gear heads, he had a Dumble "Steel String Stinger" in his backline along with his Two Rock John Mayer head. $20,000+ of amps and delicious tone....... drool. This cat really flies under the radar of the guitar hero world. Yeah, he's a pop star. But man can he play, and watch out when he starts channeling Stevie Ray Vaughn. If you haven't heard his live blues album as "The John Mayer Trio" you need to look it up.
I crawl from my tent at 8:30 am the monday following Bonnaroo to a ghost town of sorts. Within the field of discarded shade canopies, chairs, blankets and coolers, the few remaining campers are solemn and withdrawn. There is water in the shower trailers today. Yesterday I washed by cupping my hands under the meager trickle from the nozzle and carefully dousing my body with the precious fluid. Those who arrived after me wouldn't even be that lucky.
The previous night I had sat at the camp site with my travel mate Carrie and reminisced about my Bonnaroo experience while the festival's final act, renown jam-band Wide Spread Panic, drifted over to us from the distant "What Stage".
Click thumbnails to view full size images
A suit of Crown Royal Bags
This cat had a watermelon on his head for days
Dancing to Ozomatli
Bonnaroo began for me with a email from photographer Carrie Musgrave a scant three weeks before the festival. Did I want to go, would I drive? I said yes, and spent the next 20 days buying camping gear and wondering what I was getting myself in for.
What I got myself in for was one of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had. Bonnaroo the festival began in 2002 as a small hippie jam band festival featuring the likes of Wide Spread Panic, The Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh, Les Claypool, and Gov't Mule. It has grown tremendously in the ensuing 6 years but the ethos has remained the same. A peaceful, accepting tent city of 80,000 erected overnight on 700 acres in rural Tennessee with a diverse group of musicians providing the soundtrack for the whole thing.
As early as the first day it became apparent that the most important commodities at Bonnaroo were water, shade, and sleep. Water was easy to come by, but you could make a friend instantly if you could offer cold water. Shade was in shorter supply for the general 'Rooer. "This Tent", "That Tent", "The Other Tent" offered shaded viewing areas in front of the stages and there were a few trees scattered throughout the site. All of this shade was greedily consumed by the hot and dusty concert goers. The third commodity, sleep, was irrevocably tied to the shade. With My Morning Jacket and Kanye West performing until sunrise a tent is no a place to sleep after the music is over and the Tennessee sun begins beating down. As early as the first day men and women were sprawled out on the floor of the XBox 360 tent, in the Fuse TV barn, and under the trees in the hope of capturing what was violently ripped from them at sunrise.
Sleep where/when you can was no more evident than when at 5:00 AM Sunday morning Carrie spotted a girl, who most likely imbibed in a little too much of one substance or another, sleeping on the ground next to the Garnier Fructis table by the shower trailers. After checking her vitals Carrie left her to her slumber. As I made an early morning trip to the port-a-lets I was pleased to see that someone else had covered her in the Day-Glo green Garnier table cloth. Carrie had remarked that maybe she really wanted to be at the front of the line for a shower in the morning?
At no time during the festival did I witness any violence or even anger. What I saw was security (labeled "Safety" on their shirts), allowing the concert goers to do what they wanted so long as it was not endangering themselves or those around them.
People slept, danced, sang, ate and drank where, when, how they wanted. For 4 days a beautiful utopia sprang up in rural Tennessee.
My neighbours to the East are up now too. As I began to disassemble my camp I put some on some water to boil. It's the camp stove coffee I plan to make and share which has helped us to bond over the weekend. The neighbour on the other side wonders if I have any jumper cables. These were the last supply to be packed and among the most important. The coffee klatch would also require a boost before their drive home to Virginia. A girl strolls by and asks if we'd like to update our voter information and if we might be able to give her a ride to New York. Another nearby camper asks if I have any water. I'm glad to share what we have left. About this time I receive a text message from home that my 2 year-old has peed on the toilet for the first time. This is the strange afterglow of Bonnaroo.
Edit: I found this photo on my camera this morning (June 20, 2008). It was taken as we sat in our camp listening to the aformentioned Wide Spread Panic set and my last photo of Bonnaroo.
The view from our camp toward the Which Stage on the last night of Bonnaroo
All photos by clint gilders - staff photographer except where noted
by clint gilders - clubkingsnake staff
Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tennesee
June 14, 2008
I can say that previously a concert has never moved me close to tears. June 14 was the night that changed. Pearl Jam embraced the spirit of Bonnaroo and performed an extended two and a half hour plus set that ebbed and flowed through some of the greatest music of this generation.
As the lights shone over the assembled throng for the first time frontman Eddie Vedder remarked that he no idea of the scale of this event until this moment. Then "Black" flowed over the crowd and the show rose to a new level for me.
Later, Eddie introduced Victoria Williams' "Crazy Mary". This was a song they originally recorded for Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams and among my favourite songs of all time.
Next Eddie performed "No More" after talking about his friend Tomas Young (subject of the recent documentary Body of War) and his recent decline in health related to a pulmonary embolism and subsequent infection. I photographed Tomas in Texas earlier this year and my heart and prayers go out to him, his family, Eddie and anyone close to him during this terrible time.
The Audience during Pearl Jam at Bonnaroo
photo by Clint Gilders - staff photographer
My emotions finally got the best of me during "Release" which Eddie Vedder dedicated to his friend Luke whom had recently lost his father. PJ's debut Ten and especially this song bring back memories of a fantastic yet disastrous time in my life.
The marathon set closed with "Alive" (also from Ten) and a cover of Jimi Hendrix's cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower".
Later that night, and throughout the festival I heard of similar reactions from other festival goers. They may have been moved by a different song, or felt a different emotion, but the common thread was that Pearl Jam came to Bonnaroo and joined with a multitude of like minded individuals and created something beautiful and powerful.
Kanye's busted screen photo by clint gilders - staff photographer
by clint gilders - clubkingsnake staff
Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tennesee
Early June 15, 2008
At the last minute Kanye's 8:15 (June 14) Which Stage set was moved to a late-night 2:45 AM (June 15) on the larger What Stage.
What a mistake that was. Kanye didn't bother to start his set until 4:25 AM. Toward the end of the interminable wait flotsam and jetsum began raining on the stage to the chants of "Bullshit!, Bullshit!". One carefully aimed projectile (a water bottle I suspect) made considerable contact with a video screen hanging toward the front of the cheesy plywood set and caused some damage (blue and red pixels).
Here's the only shot that is deserving of being included in this review after this fiasco. Oh, don't even get me started on Kanye's terrible acting and pitchy singing.