Janelle Monae

Austin SXSW Photographer | 2015 Preview

I am really fortunate to be returning to Austin for the third year in a row as an Austin SXSW Photographer.  I look forward to my time at SXSW every year with great anticipation.  It’s quickly stolen away a spot in my heart as my favorite music festival.  Every year, I return home with a list of amazing previously unheard of bands to listen to.  My number one goal for any music festival is to seek out new artists and SXSW provides like no other!

During my time at the event, I spend most of it photographing events that sponsors pay for like super fun happy hours put on by film and production companies, opening parties for the Tech Fest, and end of the event awards shows.  In between, I get to run around photographing side events and discovering new music.  Oh, and eating lots of tacos.

Now, it is the fate of every professional photographer, I think, that your clients come first and as such, I actually didn’t really take a very good look at any of my personal photos from SXSW until last week (and still, that’s a debatable statement).  For the record: I highly regret not even culling them last year!  Running through the images quickly was an insurmountable feat and I’m sure I missed some that I love, but, well, it’s probably a lost cause now because I’m flying to Austin today for this year’s event.

Here’s a quick selection of images from SXSW 2014 to hold you over until I return from this year’s event!  I am hereby declaring to the internets that I will not leave my photos untouched for an entire year this time.

Lauren Lindley is a destination wedding, commercial and event photographer that services the Greater Austin area during SXSW.  She is available for freelance event photography in the area from Thursday, March 12 through Tuesday, March 24th.

Foxygen concert photo

Austin Event Photographer | SXSW

Every March for the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to head down to my hometown Austin, TX to work for SXSW.  I started off as a Volunteer Photographer and today, work for the SXSW Sales Team.  Just last month, I returned to be an Austin event photographer for a 2nd time this year for their amazing environmentally focused event SXSW Eco.

 After a few years of working at SXSW, my photos are finally starting to show up on their website.  I’m not sure if the excitement of seeing one of my photos in use will ever wear off and frankly, I hope it never does!  I was particularly thrilled to see this one up from SXSW Bites.  I actually can’t take all the credit for it though – although I snapped the shutter, Erik Moore was sitting across from me while we were eating lunch, saw the opportunity and pointed it out.

SXSW runs the show with more than 3,000 volunteers a year in all sorts of capacities.  If you have any inkling of attending but can’t afford it, volunteering is an amazing way to visit this event.  SXSW Volunteer Registration for 2015 just opened and out-of-town volunteers are accepted.   If you are a beginning photographer, joining the photography team is a great way to hone your skills in a variety of very tough lighting situations: from low lit convention centers to red-lit concert stages, there is nothing that progressed my early skills faster than they consistent daily shooting for two weeks at SXSW.

That being said, photography volunteers are only a fraction of the volunteers SXSW needs.  They need folks to run registration, work at the gaming expo, check badges, the list is endless!  If you are only interested in music, head down and volunteer for interactive or gaming and trade your time for a music badge.  If you’re interested in interactive, work the music portion so that your schedule is free.

This shot of Foxygen in use on the website was one I took my first year, as a volunteer, while not on assignment.  Foxygen recently released a new album (it’s great) and some of the shots from that night at the Hype Hotel are still some of my most favorite concert shots ever.

Anne and I are already looking forward to returning to Austin in March for another great year at SXSW.  It’s quickly become my favorite music festival to discover new bands, great films and meet really cool people like Lindsey Loon, a super rad actress at the helm of an Australian film festival, that I still keep in touch with.

Janelle Monae

SXSW Photographer | SXSW Sneak Peek

Remember that time that I went to see Alt-J and Phoenix and Joan Jett surprised the crowd by showing up and playing a set and I said it was the best night of my life?  I think this one may have topped it.

Janelle Monae is a verified Bad Ass with capital letters.  Story and more photos to come when I get home!

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SXSW 2014 Preview

I’m back in Texas to photograph for SXSW for the 2nd year in a row.  I know what’s coming for me: loads of amazing new music, beer, and very little sleep.  It’s an awesome time and it all starts this Saturday.

I’ve been attempting to prepare myself by drinking a lot and pre-listening to the SXSW “Four on the Floor” Preview Lists.  Here are a couple of acts I discovered on there that I’m super excited to see:

  • I became super obsessed with Juliette Ashby’s voice the moment I heard the first song.  Her blend of R&B, Reggae and Neo-Soul isn’t something I would have ever pegged myself for being attracted to, but I’m hooked.

  • The Mighty Oaks may be confused since they are playing Americana-Folk but hail from Berlin, Germany but I’m not confused about how awesome their music is.

  • Ski Lodge: pop fun for a bluebird powder day.  Right up my alley.

  • Pompeya is a pop blend of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

  • Shakey Graves has been making headlines outside of his hometown of Austin, TX: headlines loud enough that his reputation precedes him and he’s now on my must-see list for the week.

  • Elle King mades waves last year at SXSW but I unfortunately missed catching one of her shows.  I will not make the same mistake again this year!

SXSW Wrap-Up: Final Thoughts

Miscellaneous other thoughts on SXSW 2013

Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale: aka the two “best dressed men at SXSW.”

  • Paste Magazine’s day party during SXSW Music was consistently the best line-up.  I missed quite a few shows that I would have loved to see at the Stages on Sixth, like the Zombies (!) due to assignments, but overall, almost every day I knew I could show up there and be guaranteed a great line-up of stellar bands.  You can see all my photos from the Stages on Sixth shows that I caught via this link.
Paste Magazine, SXSW, Stages on Sixth, Austin

A little girl peeks into the show at the HGTV and Paste Magazine Stages on Sixth Show.

  • At the Paste + Sennheiser Interactive Lounge at the Blackheart during SXSW Interactive there was always someone interesting being interviewed, plus I had a friend who interns for Paste that was always stuck hanging out guarding equipment so it was rad to know that I could always find him in his corner.  Plus, they have good beer at the Blackheart.  Anne got to take a photo with Marcel the Shell and we got to listen to Aisha Tyler get interviewed.  She’s awesome.  I missed the Elle King show there but got to watch Seryn one afternoon, which happened to be absolutely perfect afternoon porch music.  You can check out all my photos from the Paste + Sennheiser Interactive Lounge via this link.
Seryn, SXSW, SXSW 2013, Paste Magazine, The Blackheart on Rainey, Austin

Seryn: perfect tunes for a Southern front porch.

Matthew Lesko, SXSW, SXSW 2013

Oh yeah, THIS happened. That’s right, that’s the infamous infomercial man Matthew Lesko.

Have an inkling to go to SXSW?  SXSW runs the show with more than 3,000 volunteers a year.  Trade your time for credentials.  Check here in November 2013 for information on next year.

Previously in my SXSW wrap-up:

Intro to SXSW

#12: Devendra Banhart

#11: PHOX

#10: Social Studies

#9: Guards

#8: Zeale

#7: Red Baraat

#6: Josh Ritter

#5: Pickwick

#4: Reignwolf

#3: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

#2: The Orwells

#1: Foxygen

SXSW Wrap-Up: Other Memorable Shows

deertick, sxsw, palmer events center, reno tahoe concert photography

SXSW Wrap-up: Other Memorable Shows

Clearly I saw a TON of amazing new bands at SXSW, evident by the fact that I couldn’t keep my Top Ten New Acts List to just ten acts.  Here’s a handful of other memorable shows that I saw at SXSW 2013, along with my favorite images from them.

!!!

This one is easy for the old people to get wrong.  Technically, !!! is pronounced by saying any monosyllabic sound three times in a row, but most commonly is pronounced “chk chk chk.”  !!! is always a stellar show, mostly because front man Nic Offer’s stage antics are so high energy.  It is an absolute certainty that a !!! show will offer multiple occasions of pelvic thrusting, crowd surfing and Nic running into the crowd while singing.  I guarantee it.  !!!’s new album, Thr!!!er, will be released April 30, 2013.

Deer Tick

Deer Tick’s front man John McCauley may be best known as a raging alcoholic.  Or maybe he’s not, that’s just all I can ever think about when I hear their name after reading this article.  Frankly, the idea of going through life in the state that McCauley does makes me want to vomit and holds no shred of envy in me.  Regardless of his mental and physical state, their show was swift kick of amazing and honestly, I was a bit surprised I loved it so much.  It was in the mostly empty Palmer Events Center and I managed to convince one of the employees to take me up into the balcony where I scored some super sweet shots.

Jim James

I’m not really on the Jim James bandwagon.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to listen to older My Morning Jacket albums intermittently, but honestly, I’ve always found their live shows boring.  James’ solo show wasn’t too far off that, though his keyboardist did have quite a stage presence.  During his show, James walked along the front row of speakers which allowed him to hide mostly in the dark, making his show all the more moody and sullen.  I’m still unsure why the girls behind me were constantly pushing against me to get closer and screaming as if he’s Justin Beiber, but if overweight men who write great songs float your boat, who am I to judge.  Despite my disinterest, I will say he’s got one hell of a voice.  Overall the show was enjoyable and if you’re actually a Jim James fan, it was probably epic for you.

Harouki Zombi

Harouki Zombi is a strange ethereal sexual performance art experience set to electro-pop.  Unfortunately, the night I saw them at Red Eye Fly, they’d been cut off from their full show, which I imagine to be GWAR-like in it’s inclusion of paint and fake blood that apparently flew a bit to far for comfort at their first SXSW showcase at the Parish.  After complaints, they had to cut their show down to a more “reasonable” level, which meant paint powder, strawberries and whip cream, and some body bending.  Their show is self-described as “neo-pathetic cabaret” which is to say it’s a over-whelming and unexplainable.  You’ll just have to experience it yourself.  Me: I was in photography heaven.

Previously in my SXSW wrap-up:

Intro to SXSW

#12: Devendra Banhart

#11: PHOX

#10: Social Studies

#9: Guards

#8: Zeale

#7: Red Baraat

#6: Josh Ritter

#5: Pickwick

#4: Reignwolf

#3: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

#2: The Orwells

#1: Foxygen

Reno Tahoe Concert Photography, Foxygen, Concert Photography, SXSW

My Top SXSW Act: #1

My favorite new artists from SXSW 2013

#1: Foxygen

Foxygen, Reno Tahoe Concert Photography, SXSW, music festivals

Sam France, who has the stage bravado of a much more seasoned musician, keeps the crowd engaged.

SXSW can make a band.  SXSW can break a band.

Foxygen may go either way.

If you were at SXSW, or paid attention to the reviews and post-event write-ups, you should know that the young group cancelled their last two shows of the festival and European tour as the week came to a close citing the “creative health” of the band.  In addition, France made the additional comment, “I apologize if I have not delivered our music with love and respect my voice has gone from me and i have been very frustrated performing. I love you.”

I first caught Foxegen at the Paste Magazine Stages on Sixth day party, where they were introduced as the “buzz band to see at SXSW” but I unfortunately had to leave after four songs to shoot an assignment.  At the small intimate venue, they absolutely excelled.  Their music, evoking sounds reminiscent of the vintage threads they’re wearing, is wonderfully new, fresh and has me more excited than anything I’ve heard in years.  Part old rock-n-roll, part Dylan, with a sometimes hint of blues that Jack White would probably approve of, France’s voice is captivating, unique and changing (‘On Blue Mountain’ vs ‘Abandon My Toys’).  The back up vocals from the charming Elizabeth Fay have a bit of Zooey Deschanel in them and add an sweet surprising twist.  Check out ‘San Francisco’ for some standout sweet crooning from the lady.

France at the Hype Hotel, SXSW 2013.

Fast forward to a few hours later on the first day of SXSW.  I see France sitting in the hall, looking exhausted already, on the floor in the corner.  I stop to chat and mention how much I loved what I saw of the show and how disappointed I was to have to leave.  “How many more shows are you playing?”  “Uh,” he says, ruffling his hair, “I dunno, I think like 13 or something.”

Someone at their management company should probably be fired.  Kids be damned, SXSW is rough.  It’s rough enough that no one should be playing 13 shows.  No one should be playing so many shows they can’t count or aren’t sure how many shows they are playing, as France was.  SXSW is exhausting, demanding, overwhelming, chaotic and wonderful in it’s own right.  I hope that the rest of the world looks past the young band’s mistakes, their booking agent’s lack of respect for their need to take a break and recognizes their potential, because it’s massive.

I saw Foxygen again that night at the Hype Hotel, a venue I have no love for (for more on this, reference #2: The Orwells post), where the sound guys so royally messed up everyone’s set (including the usually stellar Phosphorescent) that I can’t imagine they won any fans over.  The reviews I’ve read have been split on whether they thought they were amazing or horrifying.  Personally, I hope some of the people who managed to see them there caught them at a better venue later in the week.

Regardless of what everyone else thinks, I’m in love.  I managed to see their first show at SXSW, so maybe I am of the privileged few.   These kids are excellent performers, despite what their shows or hissy fits later in the week may have demonstrated.  I bought both their albums, which include 2012’s Take the Kids Off Broadway and 2013’s We Are the Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, and they’ve been in pretty steady rotation for the last few weeks with no signs of wearing out their welcome.

Foxygen, Stages on Sixth, Paste Magazine, SXSW

France’s facial antics at the Stages on Sixth, SXSW Day 1.

I have every intention of seeing more Foxygen shows.  I hope they are as great as the first one I experienced.  I hope that if you see a Foxygen show, it was or is as great as the one I saw.  Either way, you should buy the albums because they are killer.

Previously in my SXSW wrap-up:

Intro to SXSW

#12: Devendra Banhart

#11: PHOX

#10: Social Studies

#9: Guards

#8: Zeale

#7: Red Baraat

#6: Josh Ritter

#5: Pickwick

#4: Reignwolf

#3: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

#2: The Orwells

 

The Orwells, SXSW, SXSW 2013, Punk, Hype Hotel, Concert Photography, Reno Tahoe Concert Photography

My Top SXSW Acts: #2

My favorite new artists from SXSW 2013

#2: The Orwells

Hype Hotel, The Orwells, SXSW, Reno tahoe concert photography, punk

Mario Cuomo unleashes some punk rock for the crowd at Hype Hotel, SXSW 2013.

I had never heard of the Orwells when I showed up at the Hype Hotel on the 2nd night of the Official SXSW Music Showcases.  I came at the onset of the evening, unsure of how hard it was going to be to get in later with Jim James headlining.   I was really there to see Foxygen and maybe, depending on my mood, stick around for James.  Hype Hotel, from the start, was a total disaster.  During SXSW, there’s a myriad of pop up venues that lack liquor licenses.  They are backed by huge corporate sponsors and, as a result, pass out free drinks (in this case, Miller Lite and bad rum) and free “food” (Taco Bell).  The doors opened an hour late. The sound checks from start to finish were a total disaster, rife with problems like broken cables and non functioning keyboards.  The stage manager and sound guys were scrambling to cut acts short and make up time for the all important Jim James.

Since I’d arrived so early, I had secured a spot right against the stage.  In my world, not drinking at all is preferable to drinking any beer with the word “lite” in it, so I had no reason to move.  The first thing I noticed when the Orwells took the stage, other than their unique pop influenced punk sound, was that all their hands had giant black “X’s” on them: most of the band members check in at the ripe age of 17; only one of them (Cuomo) is old enough to vote.

They took to the stage like young punk rockers are apt to do, but there is something more to these teens than traditional punk angst: they are good, very good, and their version of punk is aggressively ambitious, catchy, and certainly much bigger and bolder than you would expect from a bunch of teens.  Frontman Mario Cuomo has long golden wavy locks, which he sends into spirals as he rolls and shakes his head, making faces that every photographer dreams of.  He pulls on his skin, rolls his eyes back into his head, drags his feet back and forth and then breaks into fits of jumping.

From start to finish, the Orwells’ show at The Hype Hotel was riveting and engaging.  These kids have serious talent and SXSW, and in particular, this show, may be what push them over the edge.  A handful of songs into their set, the sound manager signals that they have only two songs left, which unleashed a punk fit out the young rockers that ended with microphone stands being tossed, beers thrown on stage, and Cuomo dragged off stage by security.  It was an ending perfectly befitting their show and I loved every second of it: actions of young rapscallions that are eerily close to what I can only imagine was my own boyfriend’s childhood psyche, only one day, you become an adult and being a prima donna isn’t cool anymore.  Coming from 17 year olds though, it’s a wonderfully appropriate display of fury and fantastic to watch.

The Orwells is made up of Mario Cuomo (vocals), Dominic Corso (guitar), Matt O’Keefe (guitar), Grant Brinner (bass), and Henry Brinner (drums), all who met in high school and graduated early in order to tour.  Their first album, Remember When, was released in August 2012 by Autumn Tone Records.

Brooklyn Vegan, The Orwells, Mario Cuomo, SXSW, Reno Tahoe Concert Photography, Punk

Cuomo riles up the crowd at the Brooklyn Vegan Day Party at SXSW 2013.

Previously in my SXSW wrap-up:

Intro to SXSW

#12: Devendra Banhart

#11: PHOX

#10: Social Studies

#9: Guards

#8: Zeale

#7: Red Baraat

#6: Josh Ritter

#5: Pickwick

#4: Reignwolf

#3: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis