This week on happydesigns, a very special opportunity. See that flare of light at the bottom left of the photo below? That’s my flash. Yup. FLASH AT A CONCERT.
“First three songs from the pit, no flash.” The concert photographers’ unchanging mantra. Unless, that is, you’re not only asked by the band (again) to shoot their show, but you’re given permission to set up remote flashes for a far more dynamic-than-usual lighting situation.
Mike Edel held his album release concert with Towers and Trees at the 67-year-old theatre on Quadra Street, formerly know as The Fox, The Quadra, The Roxy Cine-Gog and the Roxy Classic (“Roxy” can be easily created from the word “Fox” by bowling the arms of the ‘F’ and adding a leg to make it an ‘R,’ then appending a ‘y’), now called Blue Bridge at the Roxy! (exclamation point included), and run by the Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre.
The bomb shelter-like metal ceiling is still there, but its silvery sheen has been given a fresh coat of acoustic tiles (in blue, naturally). Despite this, the shape of the ceiling still creates the decidedly strange acoustic phenomenon of being able to clearly hear a conversation 30 feet away like it was taking place in your head. This is a bad room to talk smack about the performers, because they can probably hear every word you’re saying.
This is in no way a slight on concert venues or lighting directors. Indeed, Doug from DL Sound & Lighting Production did an amazing job on the sound and light for this show. It’s just that human eyes can enjoy a concert with far less light than, say, a digital camera.
But, add little bit of light back in during that 1/125 of a second the shutter is open, and it makes a big difference. How big of a difference? Please direct your attention to exhibit A, below:
The luxury of triggering my flashes (at only a few appropriate moments; probably no more than 20 times during the course of the hour-long set) brought a dynamic and, at times, surreal quality to these concert photos I just haven’t been able to capture before.
Towers and Trees walked on stage to cheers from the full theatre, giving their opening song, “West Coast,” (the title track from their recently Kickstarted and soon-to-be-released album) an extra boost.
Fans of their 2012 album Broken Record heard three favourites, “We’re Not Islands,” “Devil on the Highway,” and possibly T&T’s best known song, “Montreal.”
Oftentimes, fans come to a concert to hear the familiar hits, not the dreaded something-from-the-new-album, but this audience seemed excited to be among the first to hear a number of new tracks from “West Coast,” including the aforementioned title track, a calm moment in “Wayward Love,” the slow-building explosion of sound and fury which was “Bad Heart” (showcasing Dean — father of drummer Jesse — Boland’s powerful trumpet cameo), and their peppy finalé number, the recently released “FREE.”
Not only was it a fantastic concert to shoot, but it was a fantastic concert to experience. Towers’ show is becoming more grand, more polished, and more focused, every time I see them.
I did, of course, capture Mike Edel’s performance, as well, but I took down my lights in between sets, as I hadn’t cleared it with Mike beforehand, and didn’t want to spring it on him day of.
He rocked out with his band, which is always surprising for such a generally soft-spoken seeming guy.
Towers and Trees is a seven-piece band (eight when Dean is on the horn). Mike’s is but a lowly four. 😉 Perhaps that’s why he brought in special guests like Vince Vaccaro and The New Pornographers‘ Kathryn Calder.
A quick aside from his musical talent. Mike Edel is hilarious. He told a number of somewhat drawn-out, awkward, yet totally worth it anecdotes in between songs. The best involved a phone duel between himself and his father, each calling the other and waiting for the right punchline to hang up the phone on.
Thanks so much for enjoying this special treat with me, and thanks to Dave and everyone in Towers and Trees for letting me expand my horizons for some next-level concert photos at their show!