“Whoa,” you might be saying to yourself. “How’d he get up there? CAN HE FLY?”
You’d think that, but actually . . . no. See this cherry picker? I was up on THAT.
As with my Rock the Shores post, this is more of a highlight reel of the third annual Phillips Backyard Weekender, where bands take to the “stage” (actually a loading dock) behind Phillips Brewing Company.
The full, chronological blow-by-blow of the festival may be found on The Zone’s Facebook.
And, as with Rock the Shores, I’m starting with my highlight: USS. But also, can you spot the dog in the photo below?
I’m a big fan of USS: singer/guitarist Ash Boo-Shultz, turntablist/hype man Human Kebab, and ginger drumming machine (who’s not a drum machine) Matthew Murphy. They’re always amazing on stage and, as the Saturday night headliner, this show was no exception.
This show was extra smoke-machiney.
Here’s Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons showing his effortless expertise on the 1s and 2s (that’s a DJ term for turntables . . . the more you know . . . ).
The Weekender started as a two-day fest, and expanded to three days in its second year. The Friday night of year three was . . . wet.
But, we’re west coasters. We deal.
Easy Star All Stars were, behind USS, my favourite act, musically. I knew most of their songs. And not because I knew most of their songs, but because they performed some amazing covers of Radiohead, Michael Jackson, and Pink Floyd.
They’ve been known to cover the entirety of Dark Side of the Moon at their shows. No mean feat for a reggae band.
Did I mention it was wet and rainy on Friday?
Moving to Saturday, my third favourite performance was from a band called BADBADNOTGOOD, a trio of young bucks who perform instrumental jazz and hip hop.
Their drummer, Alexander Sowinski, is the spokesperson for the group, and is so badass that he plays with a cracked cymbal.
Y’know what I love about hip hop acts like Bliss N Eso (and, take a moment to wrap your head around this: they’re rappers from Australia)? Their dominion over the crowd. Makes for great photos.
While the rain stayed away for Saturday, it came back in most revengeanceful torrents on Sunday. It got so bad that doors were pushed back to open half an hour later so the crew could ensure all the electronics were somewhat dry and hopefully non-shocky.
Kicking off the final day was a band I’ll never tire of hearing live, local psychedelic instrumentalists Weird Party.
The sun eventually won out over the rain, and a much more happy, carefree vibe took over the brewery for the remainder of the fest.
Local favourites Jon and Roy (and Lou . . . I’m waiting for the official name change since their bassist seems pretty permanent) cast their usual folky, beachy, conga-y vibe over the crowd.
And the show ended with Dan Mangan + Blacksmith. Oh, the ladies love some Dan Mangan.
Take note of that ring, ladies . . .
But I’ve got to point out the guitar wizard on the left. His name is Gordon Grdina, he’s a super-intense guitarist and, as you can see by this photo, he’s playing Dan’s keyboard FROM THE WRONG SIDE. AND IT SOUNDED GREAT.
Shooting at this year’s Weekender was the best experience I’ve had in its three years, most directly because of the addition of an actual “pit” for photographers.
The pit is the area between the stage and the audience where security keep the peace and, typically, allow the photographers in for the first two or three songs to capture the performances.
However, due to logistics, the pit in previous years was small and not accessible by anyone except security, which meant that the photographers had to swim their way through dense crowds, finagle a spot in the crush at the front, and NEVER LEAVE (’cause leaving meant losing your spot, especially as the headliners approached).
No peeing, no eating, no resting. No variety of angles, either. Unless you shot from the edge of the crowd with your camera over your head.
So, much yay to whichever concert deity bestowed upon us rocktographers a safe, spacious pit from which to shoot. It made all the difference.
Well, that and going up in the cherry picker.