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The Blight – Photography by Neil Girling    » Live music

The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2017

Archive for the 'Live music' Category

Edwardian Ball 2009! Also, Dickens, Post Yule Pyre, and Sea of Dreams photos.

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Coming up this month —

SF_edwardian09_11x17 EdBall_LA_11x17_laser

The San Francisco and the Los Angeles Edwardian Ball! I’m delighted to be the official photographer for this extravagant event, and am honored to share the bill with some of my favorite and most talented artists (including Jill Tracy, Paul Mercer, and Rasputina).

Friday is for you steampunk ninnies (and Rasputina!),

Saturday for the belle of the ball, the villainesse Jill Tracy,

and Sunday if you want the luxury of the red carpet and the ethereal soundscapes of the Ghosts Project.

You should go so that I might take your photo. It will be my job (though you’re still welcomed (and encouraged) to buy me a drink. Really.). And I can’t tell you which to use, but if you enter “belle” or “hubba” as a discount code, you’ll get $5 off your ticket price (I’m not special enough to have my own discount code).

And, in recent photo galleries, we have…

The last day of the 2008 Dickens Fair ~

Pictured is Andrea Zerilli of Oryx Incruentus (who, incidentally, will be playing at the Edwardian Ball) playing a harp in one of the shops — she claims she had no idea the chair had wings.

Next, from Sea of Dreams, we have my friends the Mutaytor:

I could have shot (considerably) more, since it was a great party (selling over 8,000 tickets, the rumor went), but due to budget concerns, I was not hired by Anon Salon (though they gave me free tickets) and so I instead elected to shoot only those folk who did ply me with free drinks (these things go far, people). Next year, however, I suspect I will elect for something markedly more quiet (though we’ll see if I keep -that- promise).

Finally, Danger Ranger (Michael Michael) and the Cacophony Society bring you the 20th Annual Post-Yule Pyre,

…wherein everyone coincidentally showed up with a dried-up dilapidated Christmas tree in tow… and then proceeded to place them in a large pile where they spontaneously combusted. Honest to God, officer.

Storytime Festival and Hubba Hubba Revue photos, and a rant on lighting

Saturday, December 27th, 2008
Angelo flies above the crowd

Each of the two shows for the Storytime Festival were divided into two halves — the first was akin to an international dance competition, featuring troupes from all over in vastly different styles, while Vau de Vire filled the second half. The afternoon show was Vau de Vire’s first “kid-friendly” and theater-style performance, as well as the largest venue at which we have performed (two sold-out shows of 1,000 people each, and the stage itself was as big as the DNA Lounge). The first show was a bit rocky, in terms of practice and other technical aspects (sound, etc.) details I’m delighted not to be privy to nor involved with (a classic example of “not my job!” and I’d only be in the way anyway).

The first photo above shows one of our lovely Vau de Vire girls doing a front-flip over a flaming rope, and the second is my favorite shot I’ve ever gotten of Angelo Rodriguez flying above the audience — I last saw this in February at the Super Bowl show we did with 944 Magazine, but the circular nature of his path makes autofocus nearly impossible. I managed to capture it this time. Go see the full gallery here.

Hubba Hubba Reuve Christmas Special took place the day before the Storytime Festival (and Dickens Fair the day after) making last weekend one of the longest in recent memory. If you’ve ever wondered why you occasionally find black-and-white photos scattered throughout my image galleries, it’s not because I’m trying to be artistic. No, let me tell you a secret: It’s because I couldn’t fix the color balance or the lighting was awful. The gentleman responsible for lighting Hubba Hubba Revue likes to wash the stage in a single color (never good) and is a huge fan of pink, of all colors (even worse). The vast majority of my post-processing time I spend on Hubba Hubba Revue photos is just trying to fix the color to make skin look like, well, skin and to provide my viewers with something other than a blasted pink landscape of pasties and pretty girls. See below for a few examples of before-and-after:

hhr_towels

Before and after, showing post-processing

hhr_bunny

Before and after, showing post-processing

As you can see, the original images on the left were lit with pink (blue and red) lights, full-on and direct, with the backgrounds largely ignored. I’m no theatre lighting expert (ask Mr. Devon aka Baconmonkey for a separate rant regarding this if you want more detail) but I know that the DNA Lounge has some excellent lighting rigs, and they’re responsible for making a show look as good as it can possibly look. And in terms of photos, while you might not notice a particular color wash when you’re watching the show, a gallery of pictures that are all lit the same become monotonous and it’s difficult to differentiate between the various acts (or even tell what color their costumes were). From a photographic standpoint, the performers themselves need to be lit with pure white light, with colors supporting the sides and background. Or at least give me a white spotlight or throw a few white lights in the mix? A camera’s sensor is a mix of red, green and blue filters, so if you only use one or two colors to light the stage, my camera can only use a fraction of its light-capturing capability, and image quality suffers heavily.

Go see the full gallery of HHR’s Christmas Special here.

New photo galleries — GWAR, BRAF’s Artumnal Gathering, Bohemian Carnival, Hubba Hubba Revue, and 5&Diamond’s Anniversary

Monday, December 1st, 2008

All jam-packed in this extra-special bonus post! Separate descriptions and writeups coming soon.

GWAR, Kingdom of Sorrow, Terror, and Toxic Holocaust at the San Francisco Regency Center Ballroom in November.

Bohemian Carnival at the DNA Lounge, at which my 24-70 2.8 Zeiss was knocked down and broken.

Hubba Hubba Revue’s Girl Gang at the DNA Lounge.

Black Rock Art Foundation’s (BRAF) Artumnal Gathering at the Bentley Reserve, at which I ran a portrait station the entire evening.

5 & Diamond’s 1-Year Anniversary party at Supperclub San Francisco.

Hay Maze / Stripmall Architecture galleries, and upcoming events

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

This Saturday saw the second installation of the Crazy Hay Maze party in Half Moon Bay by Circus Metropolus and Anon Salon. The Nexus party the week at the same location a scant week earlier stole much of the thunder this this party, for people were fairly wrecked after the first (or so I’ve heard). I ran a photo studio tucked into one of the rooms in the maze; pictured above is Star St. Germain.

Last week at the DNA Lounge was a show with Bloodline, Claire Voyant, and Stripmall Architecture (sometimes Halou) and they played music. And it was good. All three of them. Fans of Halou are still raving about the show. Click image above or here for the gallery.

UPCOMING ~

And now, for some upcoming events at which I’m shooting (or you could just check the calendar):

TONIGHT: GWAR at the SF Regency. I’ve been hired to shoot them. I find this hilarious. (Monster costumed thrash metal? Oh yeah). Going to have to watch out for the sprays of fake blood, however.

TOMORROW: Hubba Hubba Revue at the DNA Lounge.

SATURDAY: The Black Rock Art Foundation’s Artumnal Gathering at the Bentley Reserve; my photos will be on display, and I’m running a small on-location studio for portraits.

SUNDAY: Five and Diamond’s 1-year anniversary party at Supperclub San Francisco.

Trip to New Orleans — Queen of the Damned Ball and Endless Night

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Erica Mulkey aka Unwoman playing at Queen of the Damned

Eschewing the damp weather of our foggy city, The Blight did set sail for New Orleans this past weekend with Unwoman to join Jill Tracy and Paul Mercer in the French Quarter for two shows — Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned Ball at Rosy’s Jazz House on Halloween, and Endless Night on Day of the Dead at the House of Blues.

Eli at Queen of the Damned

Departing on a red-eye flight, our travel was not without incident: the x-ray machine operator, upon examining my large green German army-surplus backpack — then re-examining, and then once more — laughed to himself and shook his head before calling out “BAG CHECK.” My bag — and I — were escorted off to the side where a bored TSA agent rifled through everything. “Um, Supervisor?” she called out. “There’s residue here.” I respond helpfully: “You mean playa-dust? This has been to Burning Man.” Unconcerned with reasonable explanations — and perhaps due to the soothing voice declaring our threat level “Orange,” they decided a swabbing was in order. The bizarre contraption helpfully declared, in bold red and all caps, “EXPLOSIVES DETECTED.” Great. Because I handle many of those. I’m glad it didn’t beep and flash strobes and demand I grab my ankles. After every minute detail of my bag was painstakingly unpacked and no bombs were found (the gunpowder plot wasn’t for another six days) I was free to go (“let me repack my camera, you nitwits”). We arrived at about 8AM New Orleans time and checked in early to our hotel. “Are you here for the International Gay Rodeo Convention?” ” … No, but that’s fantastic.” And it was (fabulous sequined cowboys — I did titter with laughter).

Sasha at Queen of the Damned

The Queen of the Damned Ball, ostensibly for the born-again author of questionable literary prowess and the pretension* of goths who make up her fan club, but in reality a good excuse to dress up fabulously and hear some good music while sipping a (watered-down overpriced) cocktail, was something of a letdown. While the costuming was indeed fabulous, and Jill Tracy and the Malcontent Orchestra (in this incarnation, consisting of Erica Mulkey (Unwoman) and Paul Mercer (the Ghosts Project)) never cease to amaze, the other performances were uninspiring at best or downright bad at worse (caveat: I may have missed something). We departed on the earlier side and, after dropping off our gear and dealing with the insane mayhem that was the French Quarter on Halloween (read: similiar to Burning Man in the number of costumes, the loud thumping music and the free-flowing alcohol yet with less flame and dust and nicer weather) we snagged beignets at Cafe du Monde and sat sipping drinks and listening to obscure darkwave (Switchblade Symphony I can understand, but how did they ever even hear of Autumn Tears?) at the great bar Pravda on Decatur at Urselines.

*A Pretension of Goths: a new collection noun I coined. It’s true, and sometimes self-referential.

Your humble narrator at Endless Night

The next day saw Jill and Erica (and my new friend Eli aka 10-9, whom I met on the DPW Parade) at Napoleon House, which, surprisingly enough, is named after the fact that it used to be Napoleon’s… well, house. A gorgeous old dilapidated thing with a wonderful courtyard garden, the service was unfortunately severely lacking. Wandering around the town brought us to St. Louis Cemetary No. 1, which closes at 3PM (what the hell? I’ll just have to go back). After getting ready, Eli, Erica and I went to dinner for the second day in a row at Oceana, where I’ve had some of the best food in memory and had our photo taken by many a normal person who found our appearance photo-worthy. We did oblige.

The villainous Jill Tracy at Endless Night

Endless Night got off to a late start, firstly on account of the show before it running much too late, and secondly for a rocky sound check. But once it did, and a slightly-irate crowd of 400 costumed partygoers joined in and hit the bars,  their complaints were quickly forgotten. Paul’s band — The Ghosts Project — consisted of Jill Tracy on piano, incredible gospel/jazz singer Minka, Davis on percussion, Sheryl on citar and Erica on cello, was amazing. For a reason I cannot fathom I hadn’t yet taken close enough a look, and after hearing just the soundcheck, I was embarrassed. Every artist in that group is ridiculously talented in their own right, and putting them together — where half the music is simply off-the-cuff — is mind blowing. You owe it to yourself to take a listen: the sound is a cross between dark neo-classical with a double dash of jazz, and a scoop of gospel mixed to the OOM-pa-pa of a waltz. No really.

Paul Mercer of the Ghosts Project

However, even with the hour gained due to the time change (“It’s 1:29AM! The last time I looked at a clock it was 1:30…”) the night was over much too soon, and still tipsy (*cough*) we quickly ran around the corner to our hotel and hastily packed all of our things, and Eli gave us a ride to the airport (thanks again!). Fortunately my bag elicited far less attention this time through security, and it was only one, long, sleepless, partially-hungover deathmarch back to San Francisco (feeling — and looking — like hell, walking down an isle at Atlanta airport, a stewardess stops me and says “my god, you look amazing.” If only I had felt that way). And as we drop our bags on the floor of my flat (in the heart of the Mission District) at 3PM Sunday, my roommate says “Oh, this is about to be ground zero for Dia De Los Muertos celebrations. Just warning you.”

If you haven’t found them already, here are the galleries:

And links to the artists mentioned:

To New Orleans!

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Photo by the inimitable Violet Blue at the Blogger Bungalow

It is but a scant few short hours before we depart for the Big Easy to join Jill Tracy and Paul Mercer for two shows, the Queen of the Damned Ball Saturday and Endless Night Saturday. I can’t think of a better place (or better company) to spend Halloween. We’re also fortuitously escaping the rain currently gracing San Francisco’s streets (though I like the rain).

If I can steal a laptop, I’ll post photos as I can from a cafe somewhere; if not, look for them Sunday upon my return.

New galleries: Burning Man Decompression, Cruxshadows, and Attrition

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Burning Man Decompression Heat the Street Faire in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco; pictured above is Fou Fou Ha!, and within are the Hobo Gobbelins, Fandango brand shenanigans, and plenty more…

The Cruxshadows played at the DNA Lounge last week (along with Ayria and I:Scintilla) and I can’t summarize  their performance better than JWZ when he declares them to be also known as Kai Last of the Brunnen-G featuring the Cleopatra 2525 Dancers. They’re trying much too hard and their show is overproduced. You almost wonder if there’s an inside joke to which you’re not privy, but then you realize they’re serious. Oh well. (Ayria and I:Scintilla were fine).

Also last week were Attrition, Unwoman, and Imprint (the solo project of Attrition’s lead singer), who did a rendition of America the Beautiful (distributed with permission), fitting to these trying political times. (She also did this song unnanounced in Portland, and was heckled by one audience member (who was then heckled by other musicians) but here she prefaced it with an explanation that it’s a political piece and should be taken as such. No one booed or heckled her this time).

Displayed Labors — photo gallery of hooks, blood and piercings

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Not for the squeamish! See the photo gallery here.

Thursday night at the DNA Lounge was a sideshow-themed event called “Displayed Labors,” featuring a myriad of performances potentially distressing for the faint of heart. From Australia came special guests world-record winning sword-swallower The Space Cowboy and aerial artist Electric Dollhouse; the suspension was by Chi Kitty Andy, and the beautiful peacock-feather pierced belle (pictured above) is Courtney Crimson; from Bootie Mashup Derby we had Trixxie Carr; other burlesque by Devilla de Dallas and AZANA; live music by Cloud Archive and nes one; and DJs Siren, Random Intent and Sleepyhead with Mimosa. The ambient dancers scattered about were the Lusty Lady girls.

Other performances included half-naked girls burning themselves with showers of sparks from steel plates on their bodies, cast by angle grinders; “What’s in my Pants?” a game that did indeed involve a kitty fetus, as well as a cow tongue and lucky charms; contact juggling by Isaac and Tyler, who later did a bed-of-nails and cinder block breaking routine (also painful, they inform me); a trapeze performance by the ethereal wraith-like Gretchen; and burlesque involving buckets of fake blood, intestines pulled from panties and a real heart from the bra (it made an entertaining “squishsplat” sound when it hit the stage – and Chi Kitty put it in his pocket. Kids these days).

One bit of drama occurred when an audience member pulled two peacock feathers — and attached needles — out of Courtney’s back during her performance. From my vantage point at the back, it was hard to see, but it looked like in turn the perpetrator’s head got smacked into the stage. Then in trying to deal with the girl who pulled the needles out, a security guard got stabbed in the hand twice and the back once (with someone else’s now bloody needles). The DNA Lounge handles it all very professionally; who knows what that girl was thinking. Courtney then took it as inspiration (I suppose) and proceeded to yank out the rest of the feathers (hence all the blood). To quote her backstage, lying bloody and nearly naked on a padded table: “It’s easier than dancing burlesque.”

Congratulations to Mike and Shannon Vau de Vire, for it was their nineteenth (!!!) anniversary. They are two of the most fabulously hard-working and dedicated people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

Working in the San Francisco underground leads one to encounter an array of unusal performances.  I first met Andi when he joined us (that being Vau de Vire Society) at the Exotic Erotic Ball with Peaches last year (they stiffed us a considerable sum of money, those bastards). They then asked me to attend the opening of the Phoenix Grounds (caution: more blood and hooks) gallery, a venue which unfortunately lasted but a week. And to those who wonder (it’s an exceedingly frequently asked question): yes, it hurts. However, the endorphin rush is said to be incredible (I wouldn’t know…), so much so in fact that I’ve seen performers completely out of it because they were so overwhelmed by the feeling.

Photos from Bohemian Carnival

Monday, September 15th, 2008

See the gallery here.

This past Friday saw the latest installment of San Francisco’s underground circus extravaganza, Bohemian Carnival. Hosted by Gooferman and Vau de Vire Society, special guests included our frequent cohorts, the inimitable Fou Fou Ha!, Keno Mapp (and his album release) acrobatic pole-dancer extraordinaire Blaze from Portland, and Vau de Vire’s periodic co-conspirators, the Dr. Madd Vibe Orchestra (fronted by Angelo Moore of Fishbone).

It was an excellent show. If you didn’t make it, why not? You missed out. Our next installment should be in a few months.

Mogwai at the San Francisco Regency Center, 9-8-08

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

See the gallery here.

Last night I was brought in to cover the Scottish post-rock band Mogwai at a sold-out show by Golden Voice at the Regency Center ballroom in San Francisco (a decadent place of marble and turn-of-the-century chandeliers). Composers of long melodic guitar-based pieces almost completely without vocals, Mogwai is not a band to which you pound your head out —  the mood of the crowd was subdued (I heard audience members hush one another) — though they were certainly a fan of suddenly snapping the crowd to attention by breaking a long quiet interlude with a blast of sound and strobes so bright they warmed the audience (and blinded me through my viewfinder).

Having heard their name many times before, I still had not yet heard any of their music before coming to the show; but to a new listener, they did not disappoint.

This gallery will be updated soon, as what you see here went up the same night as the show itself.