If you have followed enough of my blog posts you already know that once you get past my rants there is a theme about my posts, Wife, Photography, Beer and live Music. Since free time seems to always be at a premium in my house I always try to do what I can to combine passions so I can experience as many of them as I can in one evening. One way to get all of the above into one night is to go to the 9:30 club. I plan to write more in the future purely on just how much 9:30club means to me but for now, we will leave it at it being the most awesome fucking venue to see a show. Many a night has spent with my wife watching great music and drinking from the diverse beer list found at 9:30. But up until this night I had never been able to shoot a show at 9:30. I have shot U-street and the Fillmore but 9:30 had alluded me. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I emailed every band I could trying to get a photo pass. But this night is different OKGO, a band my wife and I have seen maybe 5 times already has granted me a photo pass. Now the routine kicks in, the night before my wife and I go over our day of show plan to make sure we get the seats we want. This involves coordinating who will leave work early to get in line and checking the weather reports to make sure we are prepped to stand outside for an hour or so. But now I have to also toss in my pre shoot routine of making sure all my equipment is ready. By this point in my for lack of better terminology career as a photographer I have this routine down pat and can almost do it methodically.
Day of the show, I blast out of work a few minutes early to try to shave a few minutes off what is going to be 75 minutes of commute to V street. I have basically accomplished nothing all day at the office other than listening to and watch OKGO to get a better feel for their music. This time I am listening for different things, indicators that will help me judge when the members of the band will do something spectacular. It helps that I have seen them before but it also helps to listen to the music and not the words. Songs grow and as they do the members of the band get more animated and this makes for better pictures. In most cases there is an opening act. Most photographers use this time to get their setting right for the light. I don’t because the light for the openers is always different then the main. I use the opener to scout out where I will be shooting and who I will be shooting with. I like to get a feel for how the pit is set up and what to watch out for (where does security stand, how far are the barricades from the stage, where are the barricade supports, where can I stash my bag and lenses, most importantly how many other photogs are there in the pit and how much do they move around). Come to find out there is no opener and we are going to have to go into the pit blind. To make matters even more challenging the show isn’t going to start for 2 more hours. That’s a lot of time for me to get up in my own head and over evaluate everything. I normally don’t drink before a shoot but since there was so much time to wait a beer was a must.
10 minutes to show time, I kiss my wife and say I’ll be back. As she always does she wishes me good luck. She knows I don’t believe in luck but I think she says it because it sounds better than “don’t over think it just do your thing”. I make my way to the front of the floor which is now packed elbow to elbow, this is going to be no easy task as a small guy with a big backpack full of equipment on his back. Once at the front a get in line behind the other photogs waiting for the band to take the stage and security to let us in. Band takes the stage and we start to file in, security tells us we only get 2 songs tonight, What? In most all cases you get 3 songs, no time to discuss we must run for our spot in the pit. Now with three songs to shoot you get a good amount of time to make sure you get all the images you need. It also gives you time to rotate through some different lenses for different effects. @ songs is going to compress that a bit. Prior to being let into the pit we see there is a cheese cloth like curtain over the front of the stage, no worries it will come down when the band start playing, wrong again OKGO is using this curtain as a screen to project images onto. Have you ever tried to shoot a band through a curtain? At this point it doesn’t even faze me. I’m in the pit at the 9:30 Club, They could have brought brimstone and fire and I wasn’t going to stop trying to get the shot that would make me go wow. 2 songs came and went super-fast and the curtain never came down. We are ushered out of the pit just as the 3rd songs starts and the curtain drops. I rush back upstairs to where my wife is and drop my bag and change to the long lens. I’m in the venue so just because I can’t shoot in the pit doesn’t mean I am going to stop shooting. I have a press pass to my favorite venue watching one of the most energetic bands play. I am shooting until I can’t shoot any longer. The show is awesome as it always has been from OKGO the quality of the performance and the amazing personalities of the band were the one thing that I knew was going to be a guarantee for the evening. If you have never seen OKGO perform you need to. Even if you do not like their style of music the pure entertainment and energy these guys have will put you in a good mood for days to come. I have seen a shit ton of bands perform and OKGO has to be in the top 5 of most amazing performance ever. To make this performance even better the lead singer is a local and loves the 9:30 club. This adds even another level of awesomeness to the show.
All things have to come to an end. I don’t think I have put my camera down for more than 5 minutes since the show started. I have riffled through all my lenses to make sure I captured everything I could. The house lights come up and my wife and I are all smiles. The energy in the room is still amazing and you can feel it. On our way out we run into some friends and my wife wants to go down and play in the confetti that is covering the main floor. We look for some t-shirts and work our way to the car. The hole ride home…… who am I kidding we were to wound up to go home right away so we hit this new Bourbon bar on our route home that we just had to try. After a few samples of some bourbon we were on our way home. It’s now close to 1am on a school night and my alarm is going to go off in 5 hours. I do what most smart professional looking to advance their corporate career do and I start up the computer so I can download all the images from my cards and see what I have……..HOLY FUCK, 9:30 club you once again amaze me with how photogenic you are.
That’s my first night in the pit at 9:30 club. Thank you OKGO, thank you 9:30 club for being the most beautiful venue in DC, thank you to my wife for opening my eyes once again to the awesomeness that is live music. I can’t wait to get back in the pit!
Till next time,