Monday, August 14, 2017

Live From The Stage: Incubus at COTA.

Brandon Boyd of Incubus. Austin, TX.
Brandon Boyd in a deep moment during his performance with Incubus.

Great googly moogly, everybody. What can be said about such a strong band like Incubus that hasn't been said through their longevity alone? Everyone who has followed a talented band for over fifteen years usually finds themselves seeing growth and evolution in their music. You can honestly say Incubus' sound has changed so much since S.C.I.E.N.C.E., and yet their sound is just as strong and powerful. And, somehow, it's still Incubus 100%. I've seen plenty of bands from the Nu Metal era, where Incubus saw their initial mainstream success, come and go. Even some of my favorites like Rage Against The Machine and Staind, who were just as strong, have since split. Others have come, gone, and returned like At The Drive-In. (And we're all thankful for that reunion!) Keeping yourself  happy and sane on one creative track for over a decade is incredibly difficult and is so much harder when it is a group of creators part of one collective, like a band. Yet, Incubus has not only managed to stay together but have also kept producing solid music over the years ad touring like madmen.

Incubus' "8" record in full effect.
8 vibes in full effect.

DJ Kilmore killing it on the keys and turntables.
 DJ Kilmore, a man of many musical talents.

I've received the great pleasure [and blessing] to have the opportunity to photograph Incubus at such an amazing venue that is the Austin360 Amphitheater. I am not here very often, so I am always excited and taken back by the enormity of this place located on the racetrack of the Circuit of The Americas. How fortunate am I to be able to photograph one of my favorite bands who have helped mold my creative approach all these years later? When I first discovered Incubus in high school, I was a mere scruffy lad with hopes and dreams of somehow becoming a professional skateboard and comicbook artist. I had no idea I would one day be making photos of the band playing the music through my DiscMan (S/O to anyone who remembers those lol). It's funny how life works out...

From The Roots to Incubus, Ben Kenney is still wrecking shop on bass.
Ben Kenney used to play for The Roots prior to joining Incubus. Pretty dope transition if you ask me. Hashtag #themoreyouknow.

When Morning View was released, I was pretty elated. The band took a severe turn from their previous two records and produced an amazing piece of peaceful rock music. If you're familiar with the band, then you are well acquainted with that oxymoron. The sounds on that record were very new and relaxing, yet still very much Incubus. I was surprised how much I like this record because it was such a different vibe from their others. Nevertheless, they flipped the script once again a couple of years later when they released the politically-driven powerhouse A Crow Left of The Murder, featuring new bassist Ben Kenney who had just departed from The Roots (a band I had just discovered right before this record dropped). I really appreciate artists who can change and present something new to their audiences, yet still somehow retain their DNA. It is not an easy feat and it is often what loses fans and artists' endurance.

Powerhouse vocals from Brandon Boyd.
Brandon Boyd belts them out as well as ever.

This band has produced some really amazing music for over twenty years and continues to push the boundaries of their own sound with every record released. They are as tight as ever onstage, meshing so well with one another and showcasing some great visuals to coincide with their performances. Incubus continues to inspire many people through their music and through their visual arts as well. Brandon Boyd in particular has been a massive influence in my exploring of different avenues of self-expression over the years. It's people like Brandon that make me feel comfortable to paint, draw, design, dream, photograph, write, and then showcase it in whatever medium I choose to. If you've ever wondered how I am able to push myself and produce in so many different areas of visual art, Brandon is a strong influence in that part of my upbringing. For this, and for Incubus' music, I am forever indebted to them. Through their own growth and evolution, they have inspired myself and countless others to grow and evolve as well. And what is life worth without improving and expanding what it is you love doing?

Incubus live from the Austin360 Amphitheater at the Circuit of The Americas.
Nearly twenty years later and I am still very much in love with Incubus' music.

You can find Incubus' latest record "8" on all major music platforms and outlets. Incubus will remain on tour through October of this year in support of their latest release so be sure to catch this amazing band.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fractions.

Tierney, Street Keepers. Austin, TX.
Tierney at Street Keepers ATX. Austin, TX.

We are long overdue a photowalk. Next meetup is in a couple of weeks. Standby...

Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Jason Lee Captures the Quiet Details of the Vast Plains of Texas.

Preacher Gallery. Austin, TX.
Photographer Jason Lee chats with patrons at his solo exhibit "Plain View". Austin, TX.

It is easy to find art in almost anything and anyone. Musicians, painters, photographers, writers, speakers, chefs, fighters, skateboarders, architects, astrophysicists, comedians...it doesn't take much to see the art in something if you're willing to open yourself up to it. Personally, I admire a vast amount of people of diverse backgrounds and upbringings, but they all have one major thing in common--they express themselves fully and share it with the entire world. I find it incredibly admirable when someone can focus on thing, one passion, and pursue it so intensely that it becomes an extension of who they are. They hammer away nightly, daily, honing their craft, sharpening their sword, and putting it on display for the world to appreciate, use, deconstruct, denounce, and destroy. They put in the 10,000 hours and the end result is something of an almost divine nature.

But there is another group of people that resonate with me so much more. Those who cannot seem to find satisfaction in one medium or pursuit. They have an almost A.D.D. with their self-expressions. Where, given a  few clones or Hyperbolic Chamber scenario, they would pursue everything they possibly could simply because they cannot find contentment in one direction. They will sacrifice 10,000 hours of one skill in favor of 2,000 hours of five. It can be a difficult challenge when one path is super captivating, yet we feel the pull from so many other directions. It is also so incredibly rewarding. I am one of these people.

And so is Jason Lee.

Patrons mingle and view the photographic works of Jason Lee.

You may be familiar with Jason Lee from movies. Or television. Or from Stereo Skateboards. Or, perhaps, from his photography. His legacy can be seen in so many artistic areas and it is still continuing to shine all across the world. I first discovered Jason Lee from "Mallrats", easily my favorite movie in high school. Lee stars as comicbook-obsessed Brodie Bruce alongside best friend T.S. Quint (Jeremy London), Jay (Jason Mewes), and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith). Brodie spends most of the film comforting his best friend's recent breakup through witty dialogue and deprecating empathy, having had his own relationship end that same morning. Collectively, the four embark on a wild and destructive adventure, all taking place in our favorite hangout of our youth--the mall. Hella 90's.

This was the extent of my knowledge of Jason Lee, just another great actor on the silver screen. Then I find out years later that he helped create the famed Stereo Skateboards. I was shocked and my admiration for who I already believed to be such an incredible artist climbed so much higher knowing that he was part of my world, my culture. Comicbooks and skateboarding--that was my adolescence. It is a tremendous feeling when the way you relate to someone you look up to deepens in such a serendipitous way. A few years later when the Instagram hill became a mountain, seemingly overnight, I discovered that Lee is also an avid photographer. And if you've been following this blog or this brand, well, I'll let you fill in the spaces from here.

The medium format wonder, Graphlex Speed Graphics view camera.
Graflex Speed Graphics view camera.

Jason recently opened a solo exhibit here in Austin containing his photographs from the far corners of Texas. Driving through the Lone Star state is no easy feat, even if you live here. Especially if you live here. Texas covers an enormous amount of land and it is roughly the same terrain all across--plain. So, "A Plain View" is a very fitting title for the images Lee captured during his 5000-mile drive across  the plains of Texas earlier this year making images for his forthcoming book. The photos were all created using medium format film and the amount of detail in these works are stunning. I opted to not photograph the work because one, it feels weird making a photo of another photo, and two, this is just something you have to see in person. The size of his photos and the detail wherein can transpose the viewer to the scene itself in a very ethereal way. A buddy of mine described it as feeling like you are in the scene itself, seeing what the artist was seeing as he made the photo as if you are physically there, in the photograph. I honestly cannot describe these images any better.

A group of young women discuss Jason Lee's imagery.
Texas.

Father shows daughter the self-expression way.
Teach the youth.

The opening night was filled with so many admirers from photographers to artists, to art-lovers to social gatherers and more. Lee spent the evening graciously being pulled from every direction to talk about his work or listen to people express their appreciation for bringing the show to our lovely city. And yes, I was one of them (thank you for taking the time Jason). I spent my evening slowly taking in the details of each photograph while making images of the people who came to enjoy them with me. For nearly fifty photos of the plains across Texas, there was nothing plain about this night. Including the unique space of Preacher Gallery. While this was my first introduction to this space, having no prior knowledge of its existence prior to the show, I was instantly hooked on the social-church vibes and decor. I am looking forward to many more shows here.

Art evokes convseration.
It doesn't get much more Texas than this.

Super dope stained glass prints on the windows of Preacher Gallery.

Drinks by Little Brother Bar.

"A Plain View" is a deep look into the quieter spaces of Texas and every image feels like Texas 100%. I urge you all to see the show in person currently on display through August 12, 2017 located at Preacher Gallery located at 119 W. 8th St. in downtown Austin, TX. You can also purchase prints of Jason's show through Preacher's online shop. The online images simply cannot do justice for witnessing these up close, so be sure to visit the gallery or buy a print for your home so that you can experience the full effect.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fractions.

Barton Springs. Austin, TX.
Downtown Austin via Barton Springs. Austin, TX.

By far my favorite way to cool down in Austin is taking a dip in Barton Springs. It's even better after a good run through the Greenbelt nearby.

Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mipso Seranades You with Their Harmonious Bluegrass Sound.

Mipso. Austin, TX.
Mipso plays Cactus Cafe at UT Austin.

For several months I have been having this strange craving to reconnect with nature. I have tried to mitigate this with trail runs, short visits to local state parks, and, more recently, with music. Of course, the quick fix is to make a trip somewhere, however leaving Texas is it's own daunting task. Especially when driving. (If you have ever driven through Texas, you know what I mean and how large this state is.) Since I haven't been able to travel as much as I would like, through music I am hoping to calm the itch until I can get back on the road or in the air.

North Carolina 4-piece Mipso making beautiful music.

With thoughts of mountains and forests, I found myself scrolling playlists in my mornings, drinking my cold brew, searching for something to settle me into the imaginative space. After digging deep into stuff like Tycho, I knew I needed something more. Somehow, I found myself peeking through the Folk and Americana playlists on Spotify which for me, is hella weird. After experimenting with music waaay outside of my realm and norm, sifting through different Folk playlists, I realized I was on the right track. The sounds of acoustic guitars and mandolins instantly put me into the whimsical mountainous space I needed. I tuned in to the Indie Bluegrass playlist and one song in particular caught me ear and, dare I say, my soul as well.

Mipso's harmonies blend effortlessly.
Jacob Sharp leads vocals with back up from Joseph Terrell and Libby Rodenbough.

Enter "Louise" by Mipso. The North Carolina-based 4-piece band has a magical bluegrass sound that immediately captured something within me. I found myself in a trance while I listened to this song, quickly searching for more when it was over. Bluegrass is so far of a stretch from my usual hip hop or heavy metal mindset yet, like the Siren's call, I could not resist and found my home filled with this Appalachian sound almost every morning. After about two weeks of aimless listening, I stumbled upon a tour date here in Austin and reached out to the band to make some photos of their show. Mipso's mandolin player Jacob was gracious enough to grant me a pass, literally a few hours before the show was set to start. How dope is that?

Wood & Wire's Tony Kamel performs a solo set.
Austin's own Tony Kamel performed a solo set that was captivating and powerful.

I arrived to a packed room at the intimate space of the Cactus Cafe & Bar halfway through Austin's very own Tony Kamel (Wood & Wire) blessing the crowd with his amazing voice. If there's one thing I have come to really appreciate about live shows it is the supporting acts on these tours. Through supporting acts of some of my favorite bands I have discovered gems like Bishop Briggs and Dem Atlas. Tony Kamel is now on that list. With a powerful voice and the finger-pickings of a madman, Kamel's solo set was super impressive, alternating from guitar to banjo with ease, leaving a strong imprint in me ears.

Soulful sounds of Chapel Hill's Bluegrass greats, Mipso.

Mipso took the stage shortly after with a fifth member on drums, settling into their instruments and into an quietly anxious crowd. As Mipso began to play, the Bluegrass sounds of North Carolina filled the room and ultimately my soul. It has been a really long time since a live performance has touched me in such a way, especially from musicians I am hardly familiar with. But the beauty of Mipso is their harmony in vocals. Each member brings a vocal element to their music and I loved watching them trade verses and harmonies with hardly a lead taken. Rather than one person standing out, instead I witnessed a mesh of melody and rhythm among five people working together to achieve an ultimate and grand sound.

Joseph Terrell and Libby Rodenbough sing a duet.
Joseph and Libby perform an incredibly moving duet on a superb microphone.

Mipso is joined by Tony Kamel and Mipso's touring sound engineer, Wilson Ferdinand Greene IV.

I left the show inspired and my heart with a bit of a rest. While my internal urges for the mountains and woods are hardly quelled, I am definitely filled with the spirit of nature through Mipso's performance. Whether it is their intention or not, their sound puts my mind in a really great and natural space, free of the busy metropolitan land I live in. Mipso's melodies transpose me into a land with cooler temperatures and crisper air where I am cruising along the cliche winding road, surrounded by coniferous trees. For this I am thankful. Take a listen for yourself and let me know how you feel about their sound and the emotions it evokes within you.

Mipso closes their Austin show.
Mipso is joined on stage with opener Tony Kamel and touring manager/sound engineer Wilson Ferdinand Greene IV.

You can find Mipso's new album Coming Down The Mountain from the band directly or on Spotify, iTunes, and other major platforms. Support these amazing musicians!


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fractions.

Frontage. Austin, TX.
Frontage at Fine Southern Gentlemen. Austin, TX.

Loud af and delivering a punch to your face.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fractions.

Chino Moreno. Austin, TX.
Chino of Deftones. Austin, TX.

Deftones return to COTA in a couple of days. In celebration, I wanted to share this film photo with all of you from their last visit to the amphitheater. See my digital images from that show right here and I hope to see you all there!

Stay Creative,
BLUE731.