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A Different Kind Of Show

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Kevin Estrada

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Van Halen

February 8, 2012

Los Angeles Forum

Final Dress Rehearsal

So what happens when a photographer (and the biggest Van Halen fan I know) goes to Van Halen’s dress rehearsal and forgets his camera?  He ends up with photos like this.  Confused?  Read on.

I had heard of Van Halen’s “Friends And Family” dress rehearsal shows since I was a kid growing up in the San Gabriel Valley – Van Halen country as we call it.  This was a dream come true!

I knew I would not be allowed to bring my usual high end camera gear to the rehearsal, so I charged up the battery in my trusty Canon G-10 and cleared the memory card and was ready to snap away.  I was allowed to bring a guest with me to the show, so I immediately chose my 12 year old daughter – she loves the DLR!  I didn’t tell her where we were going, it made for a great surprise.

As we parked in the L.A. Forum parking lot, our excitement grew.  The second I stepped out of my car, I knew I had blown it.  I left my camera at home on the living room table – I had placed it there so I would not forget it.  Great job, Kevin!

I was devastated!  Immediately, my excitement turned to fatigue, all energy was sucked out of my body.  The walk into the venue must have been the longest walk of my life.  My daughter tried her best to console me, but she knows what a VH fan I am and how much I was looking forward to snapping some photos.

I began convincing myself that we would not be sitting close enough to the stage to get decent photos – that made me feel better. As we approached the inside of the arena, an usher asks us if we would like to sit in the upper seats or the loge section or if we wanted to go up front on the floor. Of course we chose to go up front on the floor.   Nothing like Van Halen right in front of your naked, steaming eyes!

We scored a spot so close to the stage we could nearly touch the band!  Kool And The Gang opened the show and I saw that everyone was snapping photos and shooting video with their phones.  We were all so close, that even the photos on the phones looked pretty good. It was killing me – there was no way I was going to make it through the show without shooting photos.

So I scouted the area and I found a friendly (and a bit intoxicated) woman and her pissed off punker husband with a Canon PowerShot. I couldn’t take my eyes off their camera. After about 10 minutes, I walk over to the husband and explain that I forgot my camera at home and I need to shoot some photos. I tell him that I will give them $20 if they let me shoot a handful of photos with their camera. They stare at me like I am nuts and ask me to explain it again – and again and again. Finally, after some begging she agrees and hands me the camera, just in time for VH to hit the stage.

At one point, the alcohol had her feeling a bit artsy, so she grabs the camera from me and starts screwing up the settings I had dialed in and tries to snap some miscellaneous photos. Just then, Alex jumps behind his drum kit and the lights drop.  Her husband yells at her, grabs the camera and hands it back to me and says, “Just to hold on to it for the rest of the show.” Yes!!

I dial my settings back in, and Van Halen tears into “You Really Got Me.” The camera shot a bit slow for me and had a bit of lag time, but it did the job. At the end of the show we exchanged numbers and email info so I can have them send me the photos.  The next day I discover that the couple does not know how to get the photos off the card.  I am getting worried the photos are going to be deleted or lost, or worse.  So I jump in my car and drive 60 miles to their home and grab the photos.  I must have had a smile a mile wide the whole way home!

This was one of the greatest nights of my life, so I wanted to share a handful of my photos with you…hope you like them.  And be sure to support Van Halen by buying their new CD and seeing them when they come to your hometown.

Ross Hogarth…you da’ man!!

Photographed with a borrowed Canon PowerShot SX130.

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The Many Faces Of Metallica : 2008 James Hetfield

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2009 by Kevin Estrada

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Metallica
Los Angeles Forum
Inglewood, CA
December 17, 2008

Metallica was back.  And they were back in a big way.  The release of Death Magnetic proved that life after death does indeed exist.  2008’s Death Magnetic cd is undoubtably the strongest and truest cd Metallica has created since …And Justice For All or, as some may argue, The Black Album.  Regardless, Metallica, proved once again that they were still the greatest and biggest rock band in the world.

As Metallica readied for The World Magnetic Tour, I got a taste of it early as I shot the first two warm-up gigs before the tour officially kicked off.  These shows were great, but nothing like the actual Magnetic shows that are still rolling across the globe.

As they did on their last tour, Metallica chose to play in the round, giving the fans an equal chance at seeing the band up close and from all angles.  I knew I was going to be doing a lot of running and chasing again, so I staked out my starting point and readied for the band.  As the lights dropped out and their intro music rang, my hands immediately got clammy and wet…just like the old days.  This was a good sign, I was excited, focused.

The band hit the stage and tore into That Was Just Your Life.  Lasers shot everywhere, but the stage remained dark.  There was no way to shoot, I could only see the band when the blue lasers would hit or hang on them.  This was not good, at least not for me, but the crowd loved it.  At last the lights sprang up as the band broke into The End Of The Line.  Now I could get to work.  The band was so driven, pushing each other and challenging each other’s energy.

As the opening notes of Creeping Death blared through the arena, massive, white caskets dropped over the band from overhead.  It was eerie, yet beautiful.  Metallica’s vision was crystal clear and it was all connecting with their fans.  I never stopped moving and running around that stage, chasing down each member of the band.

This shot of James Hetfield really seems to capture the power and angst that makes Metallica who they are.

Photographed with my Nikon D300 and a Nikon 24mm-70mm lens.

Personal Historical Note:  This was the debut of my gradual switch from Canon to Nikon.
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Classic Reunions…KISS

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

KISS
Los Angeles Forum
August 23, 1996

***
This is the first of a five part series I am doing this week on Classic Reunions. Each day I will add a new photo of a featured artist and that band’s classic reunion.
***

Around the mid 1980’s, KISS took off their make up and kept it off for more than ten years. During that time, tensions within the band erupted. Contract disputes and other personal problems caused drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley to leave the band. During this time, KISS went through several line-up changes, and they seemed to become less relevant each year. They had gone from being one of the most original, influential bands of all-time, to coming off as grunge wannabes. Seeing them in paisley shirts and beanies just never felt like the real KISS. Then, in 1996, the four original members announced that they would be reuniting – in full make up. This was the rock and roll reunion that everyone had been waiting for. I was very fortunate to have photographed all three of the Los Angeles Reunion shows as well as the KROQ Weenie Roast warm up gig just a few months prior. To make these L.A. shows even more exciting was the rumor that a reunited Van Halen with David Lee Roth would open the final show in L.A. – as a way to payback Gene Simmons for funding the original Van Halen demos. Unfortunately, the double VH, Kiss reunion never happened. I shot this photo of Gene during their final encore – Rock & Roll All Night. He had spit blood all over my camera case earlier in the show and now all of the confetti that was falling from the rafters was being glued to the sticky stage blood on my case. Once the show was over, my camera case was unrecognizable. I took a photo of my blood and confetti covered camera case the next morning…I gotta’ dig that up

Photographed with my Canon EOS-1 and a Canon 70mm-300mm f5.6 lens. Shot on Fujichrome film.