Things I’ve Never Done #54 – Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

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The day is finally upon us!

The much awaited and ridiculously hyped Batman Vs Superman has dropped in theaters and I JUST got back from my own viewing. I wanted to do a quick spoiler free review while everything is still fresh, but if you’re a diehard like me, some of this might be too revealing.

Here goes!

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First off, I’ll start by saying the movie was much better than I thought it was going to be. I had a fear, like many, that this was going to be another Spiderman 3, a flashy CG fest with far too many characters, hoping that big fight scenes would make up for the lack of coherent story line.

And truth be told it almost WAS (like all super hero movies these days) but what they did, they did it well. They juggled the characters masterfully, each one getting enough screen time to make things matter while stoking the ever relevant themes of fear, xenophobia and vigilantism.

The soundtrack, cinematography and CG (yes the CG) were all done extremely well. Below I’ll touch on a few things that stood out for me.

The Good

Batman. He KILLED it as Batman/Bruce! Like the masses, I was hesitant about his casting, but his performance was incredible. He sold the grizzled, broke and smoldering Bruce Wayne in a way we’ve never seen before. The opening scene with Bruce in Metropolis was a phenomenal way to kick this movie off  (If you haven’t refreshed yourself on Man of Steel, I would strongly suggest you do). I’m not sure what Bruce thought he was going to accomplish racing toward a battle of Gods, but Affleck’s ferocity with this scene made me stop questioning and trust that this man has a plan.

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I dreaded seeing Bruce Wayne’s origin story, for the 10+ time, but BvS did the best rendition I’ve seen to date. It was quick, it wasn’t over indulgent, and it was powerful enough to get Bruce’s story rolling in a matter of minutes.

Batman and Superman – I was enthralled by both characters to the point where I was enjoying just seeing them be themselves in their respective cities. BvS added more story to old characters, and it was a pleasure to watch even before they started fighting. Batman’s fear and Superman’s moral dilemma was handled extremely well. The pacing was perfect.

Batman Vs Superman – The fight itself? Exactly what I wanted to see. Give yourself to the brutality of the last 45min.

The Bad

Jessie Eisenberg– Unlike Affleck, he performed exactly how I expected him to. Terribly. His character was horrendous when it should have, could have, been a true human menace in the DC world.

Instead we got this cookie cut, overdone character with a cringe worthy performance. He who would have fit right at home during a 90s batman film sitting next to Jim Carrey’s Riddler. I found myself rolling my eyes any time he let out one of his glib “Look how smart I am” comments. The blending of psychopath and genius felt incredibly forced to the point where I just saw acting.

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I don’t know how much of this was the script and how much of it was Jessie’s portrayal, but Luthor was the worst part of the movie for me.  I can’t say that another actor would carry the character better, but I do know that Eisenberg’s casting did nothing to help.

Lois Lane – I liked Lois in Man of Steel, I like her as a character and as a love interest, but I would have LOVED it if she played more than just the damsel in distress in both films. One save, sure. Two, meh. Three? Audible groans were happening throughout the theater. Lois’ character seemed to only exist to be trapped/captured/thrown off of high buildings.

Batman Versus SupermanPOTENTIAL SPOILER – For nearly two hours Bruce Wayne plots the demise of Superman. The final showdown commences, and their set to tear each other to pieces. Batman has his reasons, superman has his. But in the span of 60 seconds, they become best friends. Blink and you missed it. I get why, I think, but that doesn’t make it any more satisfying.

BvS Trailer (Doomsday trailer) – If you watched this trailer, you did honestly see the entire movie. It’s a travesty that a trailer like that was signed off on. There were goosebump worthy scenes that unfortunately fell flat because I knew they were coming. This is why I don’t normal watch trailers, and why I’m so disappointed that I robbed myself of this experience.

 

Verdict?

Good movie. Great? I’m not sure. I’m excited for the new world that’s for sure. The world building they did was a bit distracting sometimes, but certain reveals did give me goosebumps.I can’t comment on the 3D or IMAX, as I saw the first showing in standard, but I enjoyed myself enough to go for a round 2 with both.

Agree? Disagree?

See Batman Vs Superman:Dawn of Justice

Things I’ve Never Done #53 – Metric at the Fillmore

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Metric!

METRIC! I’ve been a fan for year, but I’ve never really been a big show goer outside of my usual handful of bands. I don’t know why, but I’ve made it a point to start going out to see more live music. I always have a great time, it’s bizarre that I’ve been missing all of these events for no good reason.

Metric released their tour dates back in December, and I snatched up a ticket as soon as they went on sale.

Before I get into them, let’s talk about the venue!

The Fillmore..

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Lemme just say, this place is BEAUTIFUL. It’s essentially just a gutted warehouse with a more modern and minimalist interior, but what it does, it does extremely well. Dual iron staircases, exposed brick. They nailed the aesthetics of the place. Right down to the glowing purple chandeliers. Might be my new favorite concert venue in the city, I can’t wait to see another show here.

See a show at the new Fillmore

The place was full, but not overcrowded like I expected it to be. For the first time in a long time, (if not the first time ever), I managed to slither my way through the crowd and grab a spot up at the front gate. Perfect timing too, the opening band took the stage not even five minutes later

  • Minor Rant- I’m not usually one to tell others how to enjoy themselves, but holy shit is it frustrating to see people at center stage, front gate on their smart phones checking Facebook the entire time. Straight face, no emotion. I just can’t imagine watching a concert through my peripheral vision. If you’re enjoying, fine I guess, but if face down in a smart phone is your comfortable resting position, you might have a problem.

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ANYWAY

Joywave

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Their first song didn’t do too much for me, but their last couple drew me in. I was a fan. I think. I’m in a weird neutral zone with them. I need to listen to more of their music for a final verdict, but I did appreciate their energy on stage. In fact,  think I’ll put em on while I finish up this entry.

Metric!

 

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Their performance was fantastic!  They didn’t pull any over the top antics, it was straight business. A rapid fire succession of music from a set list that did a thorough job covering their numerous albums.

I would have liked a few more of my favorites, I was really hoping for Lie Lie Lie, or Lost Kitten, but Black Sheep happened so I was satisfied.

Not ashamed to admit that the Black Sheep cover in Scott Pilgrim was what originally clued me into Metric, but from the crowd reaction, I’m assuming I wasn’t alone. The place went crazy when those familiar black sheep, c’mon, black sheep, c’mon, lyrics began.

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The concert as a whole was a lot of fun. I THINK their US tour has ended now, they’ve recently crossed into Canada, but if I’m wrong, GO! GO TO THE SHOW! Have yourself a time. Worth it for a fan. And if you’re not, go and try out some new music!

-See Metric live! Finally!

Things I’ve Never Done #52 – Burning Man 2015: The Carnival of Mirrors

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My last few days in Boulder were spent gathering supplies for the biggest venture of the trip; the Blackrock desert and the city that buds within!

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Burning Man 2015 was on the horizon. The desert happening has brought so much change, so many people, so many events and learning into my life just through its influence, yet I never experienced it myself, I’ve never journey out there. Until now.

 

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The drive from Boulder was significant, (considering we had just driven from New Jersey to Denver it wasn’t THAT long) but still something to contend with. 18 hours of more cornfields and emptiness, although come Utah, the landscape finally started to change.

 

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Finally we arrived, and by arrived I mean we made the last turn out of civilization. No more stores/gas/stops outside of a tiny little town a ways away. We got maybe five minutes down the road before we hit the back of the line. I’ve heard stories about the gates taking upwards of six hours, so I pretty much knew we would be greeted with brake lights.

The combination of a car accident, gate pulsing, and 70,000 people trying to get into the same place at once left us on the road for most the day. We made the best of it, all part of the overall experience, right? The crowded cars soon expelled their humans and the roadside pre-parties started popping up. Every time the caravan started moving the crowd would scurry away toward their cars, only to reemerge a few minutes up the road.

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TWELVE hours later….

 

Exhausted, disgruntled, and hungry, we dropped out things in the sand and dust, and set up camp in the darkness. As much as we wanted to explore, the bed was much more inviting. After my years of local burns I’ve learned that pacing is absolutely key. Don’t burn yourself out on day 1, because you’ve got way more to do! And so, we face planted into our mattresses and passed out.

 

Now, before I get into this, let me preface by saying this:

One of the greatest challenges I faced after returning from Peru was trying to find the words to fully encompass everything I had experienced, especially to my eager friends/family who wanted to hear every detail. My ayahuasca ceremonies just felt lacking when I tried to attached words to them, so empty for such a powerful and life changing experience. I tried to put things down on this blog, I really tried, but I still did them no justice. Here I find myself again trying to find the words to describe Burning Man.

So instead of forcing my numerous experiences into hollow casings, I’ve decided to just let my pictures tell the tale. I’ll review some highlights, but I’ll leave this entry mostly to the pictures.

Unfortunately, my camera took a serious dive and the focus/lens never recovered (and my phone ended up breaking on the drive in! Lesson in being present much?!? ) Please excuse my blurry photos, but I hope you enjoy them all the same.

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The Temple of Promise

 

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The temple is always one of my favorite places at the local burns, but finally seeing the grand scale of The Temple of Promise was like a tragic dream come true. The Temple warps in shape every year, and means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but the respect for the structure seems to be universal. Nestled away from the high energy radiating through the rest of the desert, the Temple is where one goes to let go, to mourn, to grieve, to pray, to reflect, to forgive, to express whatever it is they need to express (before it all goes up in flames on the final night).

The walls may be made out of wood, but the structure itself is infused with so much raw emotion that it’s a challenge to step inside and remain untouched. I made it a few steps passed the threshold before my eyes started to well up with tears. The stillness is the first thing I noticed. In a work of art filled to the brim with people, only silence and the occasional whimper, cry, or whisper filled the air. Along the walls, writing utensils hung freely for those who had something to add to the walls. Messages were written, pictures of loved ones hung, whatever it was you wanted to express, the Temple is the place to do it.

With tears streaming down her face, I watched from afar as an older woman wrote a message to her mother who had passed away recently, finally saying the things she never got to say in life. Behind me was a scathing message written by a woman to the man who had brutally raped her in the past. On the bench next to me, a man sat in quiet meditation, holding a picture of a young child. Stories of love, hate, encouragement, loss, sadness…I could go on. Everywhere. Every story, every makeshift shrine was different, but each one was laced with powerful emotion.

 

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I wrote my own message, a personal something to myself, and I silently cried my damn eyes out…

-Write in the Temple of Promise

 

Wednesday some dear friends arrived at camp. For any long time readers, you may recognize them from one of my very first entries. We unloaded their car, helped em setup and made our way back to the playa.

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The Thunderdome

 

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The DeathGuild’s Thunderdome was my kinda place. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the house music, the burners and all the oneness with the universe and what not, but the Thunderdome stole my heart. Hard rock/industrial, people fighting, girls in revealing black leather and the guys suited up in some badass wasteland armor! When I arrived they were blasting some of my favorite songs by Manson, Rammstein, and Mindless Self Indulgence. MSI on the Playa!?!? I loveeeee my MSI!!!

The goth kid in me came out in full force! I found myself at the top of the Dome, shouting for the combatants to tear each other apart many, many times throughout my week.

Warning – The video has strong language and sexy people in black leather NSFW

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I love you Thunderdome!!

Finally see the Thunderdome in person

 

The Serpent Mother

 

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Created by the Flaming Lotus Girls, this monstrosity of fire and metal has earned its place high on my list of all time favorites. I’ve seen a lot of fire performances and fire art, but this was…this was something else. The serpent writhed back and forth in the sand, lifting her head and opening a mouth lined with flaming daggers. The metal body of the serpent gleamed in the night, illuminated by the the plumes of fire hissing from each one of her segments. Within her coil, the Mother protectively wrapped her flaming tail around a massive copper egg.

 

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I stood within the Serpent’s grasp, surrounded on all sides by the roar and heat of the fire until the crowd was ushered a safe distance away. A safe distance from what? I wasn’t sure, but I was about to find out.

With all the flammable humans at a safe distance away, the egg she so carefully guarded over, bloomed like a lotus. The hatching egg remained quiet, until a hiss louder than anything its Mother had produced up until then, came screaming out of the top of the egg. What burst forth was a plume of fire unlike I’ve ever seen before. One, then two, then three at once. These spires, these spears, these swords of fire tore through the sky, spouting flames of nearly 50 feet. The bright red flames bled into a blinding orange, then to a burning emerald green.

This was something to behold, truly. Words do little justice…

 

 

The Dust

 

Radical self reliance is high on the list of Burning Man principles. You must bring everything you need to survive, and you must be capable of surviving in the first place. This is definitely not just some music festival (much to the disappointment of some girls I found sobbing in a dust storm, complaining about how terrible everything was and it was nothing like they thought). As fun as it all is, if you’re not prepared, you’re in for a world of trouble. Of course people won’t let you die, but you should do you best to not be a burden for anyone else. Whether it’s food, water, or weather, be prepared. And we had quite a bit of weather…

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The white outs are a common occurrence out on the playa. Huge dust storms that blow in and drop visibility to zero in a matter of seconds. I prayed I’d get to experience one, and I think I prayed a little too hard! As my friends said, the intensity and frequency of the white outs was the worst it had been in a handful of years. Structures fell, tents were destroyed, I watched people smash their bikes into one another when their sight had disappeared.

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For the first day or two I really tried to keep the dust out of my tent, but by the third day I realized how futile the battle was. Falling asleep and waking up in INCHES of playa dust took some getting used to but, hey, I enjoyed it. How comfortable does one need to be anyway?!

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The art, the structures, the builds were all so beautiful to experience. But like all things, nothing is permanent. Everything must burn…

 

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In Conclusion, Burning Man was as incredible as I thought it would be. I got to spend it with some of my favorite people, got to see some of the art I’ve only seen in pictures, and now I’ve got a ton of stories to tell! Like I said, words do little justice, and as much as I did the entire week, I still missed so much more! This is but a glimpse!

But it wasn’t all fun and positivity, unfortunately I’m coming away with a few regrets. Regrets due to a symptom of a larger internal issue. Under the microscope of a the big burn, it’s easy to see such things. Now, to fix it. Things to work on.

Always evolving right?

Regrets aside, this was truly one of the favorite experiences of my life.

Dance on an Art Car

-View the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen in my life when the man burned

Live in the desert for a week

-Finally see El Pulpo Mecanico

-Spend time with my Philly friends at BM2015

-Sit in for many BM workshops

-See Android Jones’ work in person

-Finally make it to Burning man!!!! Burning Man 2015: Carnival Of Mirrors!!

Cheers to the possibility of Burning Man 2016!!

Things I’ve Never Done #51 – Road trip to Colorado!

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“Onward!” he screamed from the mast of the war rig. The day was upon them and time was running short. Our heroes gazed at their route; the stretch of travel before them was daunting, but they did not falter! They COULD NOT falter! “Onward!” he screamed again. “Bring us the West!”

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Stately welcome signs rose and fell as the crew pushed on. The road was as desolate as the landscape surrounding them. Stops were limited, and so, with only the clouds above to keep them company, they continued.

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Nothing could stop them! Not even the seething rage of our Mother Nature gave them pause, try as she might! The speed and hubris in which the crew dominated her lands was taken as an absolute offense. No human should be so lax when crossing an entire country!

In her fury, she showered them with blinding lightning, doused them with rain and tried to shattered their defenses with hail. She lashed out once again with a ferocity unmatched, threatening them with a potential funnel cloud on the horizon.

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But the intensity of the weather didn’t last long. Nature had opted not to destroy the rig. Instead, she granted them safe passage and formed a new host of clouds to float above their path.

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Mountains appeared!! They did it!

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I made it! Time to add this one to the list up there with the Alaskan road trip and the drive down to New Orleans (Entry Coming Soon)!

I’ve been here for a week now and I’m really enjoying things out here. Boulder is a beautiful!

Now, Boulder isn’t a permanent stop for me. No, no, no! It’s merely a pause, a yield before a longer trip. Tomorrow I mount back up and continue toward Nevada. My birthday celebration and a most daunting “First” awaits me the Blackrock Desert.

Burning Man!

Cross the US heading West

Spend an entire birthday in a car, driving West

Explore Boulder

Things I’ve Never Done #49 – Perseids 2015

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Last night was the peak of the 2015 Perseids meteor shower, and as an amateur astronomer this is one of my favorite happenings of the summer. Thankfully I was greeted by clear skies and no moon, the previous years my stargazing attempts were foiled by cloud and rain. The last time I saw the Perseids, I was half a world away, attempting to fight worms and slay demons.

I can’t believe three years have passed already The skies were absolutely gorgeous out there, but the events of the final ceremony left me exhausted with little desire to move, let alone stargaze.

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But that was 2012. 2015 was here and I found myself debating where I should bring in the storm. I had previous considered a beach trip, but some friends had found a spot that boasted much lower light pollution and regularly hosted star gazing events.

Batsto Village, a tiny relic from the 1700s, nestled away in the protected pine barrens less than an hour away. Whispers of the internet claim it’s haunted…

Ghosts be damned, I had meteors to watch and into the darkness I went! The route wasn’t too complicated but I did blow passed the unmarked dirt road, twice. The pine barrens are riddled with these dirt paths that lead to nowhere, so my hesitation to turn into the wrong one (which has happened before) was apparent. My GPS said this was the right one, but my GPS is also a liar…

I took my foot off the gas and allowed my car to accelerate on its own; going too fast wasn’t wise on these windy dirt roads and going too slow would surely leave me spinning my wheels in the fresh mud.

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I cruised onward through the darkness, waiting for the shambling undead citizens of the village to greet me around every blind turn…

Thankfully the only people I found were my friends. I was greeted with hugs and champagne!

The three of us got comfortable and settled in as blue streaks littered the sky all around us. We even caught a few earth grazer!

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The highlight of the night was definitely a massive meteor so bright the landscape was illuminated with a golden flash. We were facing the opposite direction yet still had time to turn around and catch the glowing streak as it continued to cut the sky.

Success!

A beautiful night of crooked necks and good company!

-Watch the Perseids at Batsto Village

Things I’ve Never Done #48 – Throwback – Being an extra for Mindless Self Indulgence

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“Congratulations! You’re getting this e-mail because you’ve been selected out of hundreds of submissions participate in our MSI music video shoot.

Please confirm (respond to this e-mail) with a simple “YES” or “NO” in the subject line so that we can know to expect you. If you can’t make it, we’re not gonna be pissed, we just need to know how many additional people to bring in for the video. Cool? Cool.”

This was the email I found awaiting me after a long night of partying. I wasn’t completely sober so I wasn’t sure if I was reading that correctly, but if this was saying what I thought it was saying, I needed to send back a YES immediately.

MSI has been one of the only bands I consistently keep up with since their first album in 1999. They were, and honestly still are, one of the very few bands I even cared about. There was no way I was going to miss out on this!

By the time I made it into Brooklyn studio the building teeming with people, inside and out. Trucks, equipment, cameras, bodies were scurrying around, gravitating around an alleyway lit up by purple spotlights. This was clearly where the video was planned to take place.

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Before that though I was ushered inside the studio and led to a room with the other extras. We were supposed to wait inside and mingle (which I did) but I also took some time to slip out to snap some pictures.

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I met some pretty awesome people while we waited for instruction. In the meantime the show runners gave us some MSI merch to keep us busy.

Make some friends I still talk to even to this day!

Once the preparations were complete and the sun went down, we were once again escorted, this time to the alley, now glowing and pulsing with life within the darkness. We filmed all night, bringing to life an idea that Jimmy got while on tour. (He would later tell the story about these “underground DDR” illegal rave like tournaments and thought it would make for a good video).

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Our only job was to dance and look excited, both of which I could do without any real instruction.

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Much to the dismay of everyone, the sun started to rise, putting the night scene of the video in jeopardy. Thankfully we were almost done.

Fun fact: The director approached me and one of the girls in private and asked us if we were up for a scene of our own. Hell. Yes. We were tasked with the opener of the video itself, sneaking through the darkness to hang up the “If” poster on the entrance to the alley. Unfortunately the scene didn’t make the final cut, there is a quick cut of my hand, but damn it was still so awesome to be a part of it! I’m STILL hyped when I think about it!

I got a pretty sweet headshot at 53s in!

With the video complete, we all disappeared into the morning sun with plans to meet back up the following weekend for the concert.

The entire night was just phenomenal: Julien-K and The Birthday Massacre opened with killer sets, followed, of course, by Mindless Self Indulgence with all the things you expect from one of their concerts. For me and for the others, we were hyped up on more than just the music. We felt like we were a part of the experience now.

First concert I learned I could smuggle sharpies in my afro

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We danced and sang the night away until the lights flicked on and the venue started to clear out. It was around then that I saw a few familiar faces from the video shoot and went over to have a bit of a chat. The director, a few of the photographers, some of the crew, and of course, Jimmy, Kitty, Steve Righ? and Lyn-Z.

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See MSI in New York
Be an extra in a music video

Meet Mindless Self Indulgence for the very first time

Things I’ve Never Done #47 – Photographing The Glitch Mob

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An unexpected email landed in my inbox while I did my morning interneting. It was from a friend of mine, a good guy who I haven’t had much contact with lately besides the usual Facebook banter. He had a friend, Terry Gotham looking for a photographer for an upcoming concert and wanted to know if I was available.

Now, my equipment isn’t cutting edge by any means so I was a little bit hesitant, but he assured me that what I had was perfectly fine. I agreed.

Who would I be shooting? The Glitch Mob.

I’ve been a casual listener to The Glitch Mob, but not a die hard fan by any means. I’ve got a couple favorites by them though I haven’t really kept up on their latest happenings. This concert was part of their new album tour. Next stop, Philadelphia.

Day of, I find myself outside The Electric Factory.

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After a bit of a mix up at the box office, the woman behind the glass confirmed my information and handed me the press badge.

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I’ve been to the venue numerous times but I spend my first hour wandering around, casing the place for the best spots to get my shots.

The opening acts weren’t even on and the place was already completely packed. Getting some good shots may have proven difficult with the crowd, but according the lady who handed me my press pass, photographers were allowed to stay in the pit for two songs before access was cut off. Perfect!

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The opening acts/DJs were pretty satisfying. Good visuals and good beats that had the growing crowd bouncing. I tucked my camera and made my way to the front, dodging the mass of flying limbs and elbows just waiting to send my camera flying. The downsides of being a short photographer…

The lights dimmed. The crowd exploded in screams. The Glitch Mob had taken to the stage.

Now, as soon as I entered the venue I was stared with curiosity at the hastily covered somethings that were on stage. Instruments? Na, The Glitch Mob isn’t instrumental…are they? I really didn’t know. Perhaps this was a DJ/live performance mashup? This tour was highlighting something new to their on stage performance, but what was it? The mystery remained.

When the cloth was finally removed, there stood three very sci-fi-esque looking MIDI controllers flanked by giant drums that looked more like jet engines. Code named “The Blade” The Glitch Mob had finally unveiled their one of a kind, custom built musical machine.

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As the performance began, the visuals slithered up the stage, up the drums (they were fitted with screens as well) and landed on a giant projection screen behind the group.

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Their first notes left the building shaking and set the crowd absolutely rabid. The sound was just incredible. They had the audience captivated from the moment they stepped on stage and they never let up for a second. I have never experienced a live performance with so much passion.

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As I said earlier, I wasn’t really a big Glitch Mob fan, but after this performance? This was easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Their new album was hard hitting and the live performance had an energy to it that I rarely see. The mix of the drums with the visuals, and the on stage presence was just stunning to watch.

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If I wasn’t a big fan before, I was now. I just couldn’t stop myself from talking about what I had just experienced. I went home and bought the album that night.

That said, I leave you with a glimpse of the performance for yourself

A big thank you to Tarik and Terry Gotham for having me out!

See The Glitch Mob Live

Photograph The Glitch Mob

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