Top Photos of 2013
It’s been difficult trying to pull together a collection of my favourite photos for this year. I’ve been to a LOT of gigs – both shooting, writing or just enjoying myself at metal, punk and ska shows. Narrowing it down to just 10 was impossible, so I gave up counting and just threw in my favourites.
The year started off with electro one-man fun-machine Adapter in February. Fukusuke had returned from a tour of Europe and entertained the audience with tales of his adventures in curious foreign parts with stinky cheese and books on tattoos and a who that had to be continued at a later date, there was so much to talk about.
Read the report and see more photos here: http://www.rokkyuu.com/live-report/adapters-memories-of-europe/
Fukusuke recently celebrated his birthday at Koenji High so expect photos from that show in the new year.
This photo is cheating slightly as it was shot in December last year, though was published a few months later (so it still counts). It is my favourite photo ever. The colours all come together and complement each other and the flying hair heralded a year where I seemed to be capturing quite a lot of action shots, and mostly of drummers.
In fact, the whole flying hair thing is the theme of 2013, as it was not only the drummers doing it, but the guitarists as well.
Blackline guitarist Yudai is one of my favourite bandmen to shoot as he not only has amazing hair (and guitar skills, of course!) but a wonderful ability to execute yogic-quality backbends and rock poses that make my job a pleasure. The band went on hiatus for a while, just a few days ago so it will be interesting to see what they’ll get up to next – more rock poses please.
Speaking of guitarists, above are two more of my favourites from this year. I shot Daizy Stripper for two days of their 6-day stint in Shibuya. I have a lot of favourite images from that show, but Nao was very good at playing to the camera.
Astrid Crown Photo Report: http://www.rokkyuu.com/live-report/photo-report-astrid-crowns-1st-anniversary-takandanobaba-area/
I also spent some time backstage with a few band this year. I worked with Wing Works at their show in August, shooting the crowd and the band backstage as well as live. Bassist Intetsu is one of the “Wing Men” (the revolving selection of band members frontman RYO:SUKE calls on for live shows) and very kindly showed me around the backstage area as I’d never really been being the scenes much before. He is also a camera nut like me, so we got to geek out about cameras and lenses too.
Interview and Photos: http://www.rokkyuu.com/music/wing-works-taking-flight-interview/
O-West, in fact, seems to be where I ended up spending most of my time shooting this year. My friend Izumi asked me to come down and shoot her 5-minute appearance there in June and I snuck backstage and shot her wonderful hair in the dressing room.
Meanwhile, while interviewing sForzato for a forthcoming piece we’re working on for Rokkyuu, I had the chance to shoot the band backstage as they got ready for the show. My favourite thing to shoot is band members taking each other’s photos for チェッキ, the Polaroid photos of the band members available for sale at each gig. Lurking in a stairwell behind the venue, I caught a rather lovely shot of guitarist Hiro posing for the Fujifilm camera next to a fluorescent strip-light.
Before the interview goes up, check out my shots from their who earlier in the year here.
There was one particularly sad note for 2013 was the disbanding of Gakido. I’ve had the opportunity to write and shoot them a few times over the past year, so when drummer Tossy announced his departure I made sure I’d be available to capture his last show with the band. That the band then announced November 30th’s tour final show would also be their last made it all the more important. It was a great final show and hopefully you’ll get to see the full set in the very near future.
This brings me nicely onto the subject of some photos by other photographers I’ve worked with. Rokkyuu photographer Eric Agnew accompanied me to Gakido’s 4th Anniversary gig earlier this year and managed to capture some really cute and funny images from the show. It’s difficult to make notes when you’re laughing your head off.
Rokkyuu photographer Yuliya Libkina came with me to see Lycaon in May and managed to capture this sleaze-soaked show with aplomb. I quite enjoyed writing the report for this show, despite it not being the best spent 4 hours of my life. You’ll have to go check it out here.
My final mention has to be photographer Julen Esteban-Pretel who I met when I was interviewing Crossfaith back in May, and who very kindly let me use his photos in my interview. Julen is lucky enough to be able to capture some of the biggest bands coming from and into Japan for smaller venue shows as well as larger events such as the Fuji Rock festival. His photos are always really high-energy and saturated with colour, and whilst I envy his job (in a good way) I don’t envy the concussions he braves when heading into a Crossfaith gig!
Julen sent me over a couple of my favourite shots from Crossfaith’s December 8th World Tour Final at Shibuya O-East to add to this . Bassist Hiro continues the theme of flying hair, while the picture of Singer Ken (taken during “Scarlett”) gives me goosebumps as it reminds me of how much of an amazing show that was. The best show this year by far, and perfectly timed to show 2013 out with a bang.
Check out Julen’s awesome website here: http://www.julenphoto.com
Well, aside from some honourable mentions, that’s it for 2013. I’ll be catching out on some leftovers in the new year but for the meantime, thanks for reading the blog throughout this year and please look forward to more images and reports from shows in 2014!