Archive for Los Angeles

A Different Kind Of Show

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Advertisements

The Many Faces Of Metallica : 2008 James Hetfield

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

estrada_blog_tallica_08

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.
estrada_blog_tallica_08_passx

Golden Years

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 19, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

David Bowie
Sound & Vision Tour
Los Angeles Sports Arena
May 23, 1990

Legends don’t come easy. What defines a legend? Creativity, originality, influence, style, vision just to name a few. David Bowie has all of the qualities…and many more to be honest. Motley Crue, Aerosmith, The Clash, Quiet Riot, Metallica, Guns N Roses – they were all influenced by David Bowie.

The thing that I really respect about David Bowie is his ability to create and destroy. He would create an image, a character, a sound – all new and original to what was going on musically at the time. Then, just as quickly as he created it, he would destroy it, lay it to rest and move on. This was the way Bowie worked, completely abnormal yet perfect.

I was fortunate enough to photograph David Bowie on his 1990 Sound And Vision Tour. I was and still am a huge Bowie fan and I was very excited when I heard that the set list he put together was sort of his own best-of, spanning his entire career. Not only would he play his top singles, but we would also be treated to many songs that we thought would never be awakened.

As Bowie hit the stage the audience exploded as he soared in with Space Oddity. It was a level of intensity that I still feel is nearly unmatched in all my years of concert going. His look; his style; his voice – all picture perfect. Bowie is a true artist in every aspect – that is what excited me about shooting him. He has always carried such a strong visual vision, I couldn’t ask for more as a photographer.

I was nearly sick to my stomach as he kept vomiting out hit after hit. We all know that he has written some great songs, but you don’t really begin to appreciate it until he does it right in front of you – one after another…it was unreal.

Set List
Space Oddity
Changes
TVC15
Rebel Rebel
Golden Years
Be My Wife
Ashes To Ashes
John, I’m Only Dancing
Queen Bitch
Fashion
Life On Mars?
Blue Jean
Ziggy Stardust
Stay
Sound And Vision
Station To Station
Alabama Song
Pretty Pink Rose

That’s So Raven

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Raven
Safari Sam’s
Hollywood, CA
August 23, 2008

It wasn’t exactly 1983’s Kill ‘Em All For One Tour, but as I mentioned in my previous post (see Hirax: True Age Of Terror), it sure looked like it outside the club. Raven’s one night stand in L.A. with Hirax was an event. Mark and John Gallagher have given up the “athletic” side of their live shows – no more football helmets, shoulder pads, or catchers masks crashing down on their cymbals and guitar necks – although Mark was sporting some catcher’s knee pads that night.

It was obvious that the new generation of fans in the audience that night had done their homework on the band. They were all aware of how influential this band was and the history that is Raven – Metallica was the opening act for Raven in ’83…that is how big they were. Raven was a key element in helping bands like Metallica and Anthrax make their move from the indies to the majors.

The highlight of the night for me was watching Raven arrive to the venue at the very last second. Katon from Hirax had told me that he thought they might have been partying too hard after the show the night before in San Francisco. With just moments to spare, Raven’s van skidded in to the parking lot and the band hurried into the small venue through the front door. It was hilarious, all three guys were rolling their suitcases behind them, doing their best to squeeze through the kids in line. It was like a bad Samsonite commercial.

True Age Of Terror

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Hirax
Safari Sam’s
Hollywood, CA
August 23, 2008

If I didn’t see kids texting on their cell phones, I would have had no idea that it was still 2008. Denim vests, patches, leather, spiked wristbands, miniskirts…I thought I died and was sent back to 1983. This is what happens when Hirax and Raven come to town. For those of you who don’t know, along with Metallica and Slayer, Hirax was one of the Southern California originators of Speed and Thrash Metal in the early 1980’s. Twenty some years later Katon DePena and Hirax are still going for it.

Before the show, I hung out with Katon in the dressing room…this guy still has Metal pouring through his veins. He was just as cool, just as pumped and just as motivated as he was in 1985 when their first LP was released on Metal Blade Records. As he and I chatted, I couldn’t help but wonder and appreciate what mountains he must have climbed to gain the respect that he has achieved in a genre of music that is predominantly white. Katon and the band brought it all to the stage – bullet belts, leather, smoke. It is shows like this that truly keep metal alive. A whole new generation of metal kids have the chance to get a glimpse of what the glory days of metal were like.

I will throw up some shots of metal godfathers Raven in my next post.

Photographed with my Canon 5D, a Canon 70mm-200mm f2.8 lens and a Canon 580 EX flash. All shot on Manual Modes.

“You Better Start Shooting, Kid!” – Glenn Danzig

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Danzig
Dressing Room
The Palace : Hollywood, CA
July 7, 1989

blog_buy_button

(This photo and many others now available for sale.  Email: IamKevin@fairwarning.com)

As a way to make up for my near death experience at The Celebrity Theatre show in Anaheim (read my post “Twist Of Kevin”), Glenn and their publicist extended an invitation for me to do a quick shoot with the band at their next L.A. area show for Creem Magazine’s upcoming Metal Special. I had only met Glenn briefly before this night – in the lobby of The Wiltern Theatre at the Andrew Dice Clay show a few months prior.

I hooked up with Danzig’s tour manager at their tour bus just after the band arrived at the venue. As I walked into the club and headed towards the dressing rooms, I noticed that there were a couple of guys trailing us…their hands were full with weight lifting material – weight bench, weights, curling bars, etc. The tour manager and I stopped just outside the Danzig dressing room so he could fill me in on what to expect and to make sure that we made this shoot as quick as possible. As he was giving me the run-down, I saw the two guys turning the dressing room into a gym. I knew this was going to be good.

By the time I walked into the dressing room, I only had about 5 or 10 minutes left to shoot the photos. I introduced myself to each of the four guys in the band and told them that we should start with some quick solo shots. As I started getting my camera together, Glenn and John Christ both started lifting a bunch of weights and got their arms really pumped. Then, if that was not enough, they both did a load of push-ups. Eerie just kind of hung back and watched it all. Chuck Biscuits just sat on the sofa and drank beer. Glenn got a bit bothered that Chuck was looking so lazy and just boozing it up, but that’s Biscuits for you.

I saw that John was done working out, so I asked if I could start with his solo shots. Out of nowhere, John dunked his head in a tub of water and had his hair dripping all over himself as he walked in front of my camera. Then Eerie walked up and just kinda stood there…very evil-like…it was perfect. Biscuits was next. He had this fantastic bad-ass/punk attitude about the whole thing…like he could care less. He walked up with a beer in hand and just looked like he wanted to go home…I loved it. Glenn shot him a look. Biscuits then asked Glenn if he could keep the beer in the photos. Glenn just shrugged his shoulders and kept doing push-ups.

By the time Glenn walked in front of me to do his solo shots, he was completely pumped and ripped. His arms were still throbbing. As he stood in front of me, he started putting on his infamous Karate gloves that he used to wear all the time. I lowered my camera and waited for him to finish tieing his gloves and start posing for me. Glenn must have taken it the wrong way or something when I lowered my camera because, without looking at me, I heard him say, “You better start shooting kid! Time is running out.” I realized that Glenn was not joking about 5 minutes to do this shoot. So I started snapping. Suddenly, Glenn Danzig came to life. His facial expressions became very serious; his body tightened up…he was focused. What a pro!

As soon as I was done shooting Glenn’s solo shots, I grabbed the other guys and threw them next to Glenn for some quick group shots. Glenn was very impressed how fast I shot and how serious I took the shoot. This photo was the last frame that I shot in this session. Just then, their tour manager popped in and told us that it was time to get on stage. The band was taking this show very seriously as it was being broadcast live on KNAC, the local metal station at the time. I followed the band up to the stage and jumped in the photo pit and snapped away.

My relationship with Glenn grew from that day and I have worked closely with Glenn many times since over the years. It is an honor to know that he continues to think highly of my photos and appreciates the way I work. Glenn Danzig is the real deal.

Photographed with my trusty Canon AE1 Program, a cheap, no name 28mm-70mm lens and a Sunpak 100 flash. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

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.