Best Shows of 2014 by Greg Gallinger

As a music fan and a live music photographer I go to a lot of concerts. I grew up going to basement shows and seeing bands play gymnasiums, curling clubs, and Knights of Columbus halls, so I've always had an appreciation for small venues and bars. These medium to small venues make for a more intimate evening, and often bring out the best in musicians who are comfortable playing without the glitz associated with stadium shows.

In the grand scheme of things, 2014 was a terrible fucking year. The news was dominated by death and destruction, poverty and racism, colonial repression, decease, environmental catastrophe, and misogyny. Reviewing the year in news clips is enough to induce a permanent aversion to the exterior world, as impractical and priviledge as that may be.

But. BUT. Music has always served as both a reprive from and a commentary on reality, and the music that surrounded my life in 2014 was no exception.

Inspired by my annual list of books read, I've compiled a list of my favourite concerts of the last 12 months.

Propagandhi - The Windsor Hotel - Jan 1st

Though it was New Years Eve 2013 Propagandhi didn't grace the stage at the Windsor until just minutes after Midnight. This was one of the best evenings ever. Propagandhi, though Winnipeg locals, only ever play in their hometown once every couple years, usually in much larger venues to bigger always sold out crowds. The New Years Eve show was announced with practically no notice and tickets sold out within minutes. I stood in line on a cold December morning in the Exchange waiting for Into the Music to open their doors and pick up the hottest ticket in town. But like many others I was left in the cold, ticketless and irritable. But thanks to the kindness of friends Melissa and I, along with many of those faces behind me in line, got to ring in the New Year with some of the raddest dudes around.

Though it was New Years Eve 2013 Propagandhi didn't grace the stage at the Windsor until just minutes after Midnight. This was one of the best evenings ever. Propagandhi, though Winnipeg locals, only ever play in their hometown once every couple years, usually in much larger venues to bigger always sold out crowds. The New Years Eve show was announced with practically no notice and tickets sold out within minutes. I stood in line on a cold December morning in the Exchange waiting for Into the Music to open their doors and pick up the hottest ticket in town. But like many others I was left in the cold, ticketless and irritable. But thanks to the kindness of friends Melissa and I, along with many of those faces behind me in line, got to ring in the New Year with some of the raddest dudes around.

Metz - Union Sound Hall - Jan 23rd

I couldn't believe how intense Metz stage presence was. Their post-punk noise rock assaulted my ears and and body. I came home from this show with giant bruises on both thighs from being repeatedly slammed into the stage.

I couldn't believe how intense Metz stage presence was. Their post-punk noise rock assaulted my ears and and body. I came home from this show with giant bruises on both thighs from being repeatedly slammed into the stage.

B.A. Johnston - The Windsor Hotel - Jan 25th

This was one of the funniest, grossest, most engaging performances I've ever seen. His performance teeters somewhere between standup comedy and punk. Without a band, Johnston is accompanied by an old Discman with recordings he probably put together in Garageband. While playing songs about fast food, his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, and his mother's cat, he belched and perspired up and down the stage. Firing snot rockets with apologies that he had a cold, and hurling self deprecating insults like boomerangs. He capped off the evening by playing his encore in the bathroom.

This was one of the funniest, grossest, most engaging performances I've ever seen. His performance teeters somewhere between standup comedy and punk. Without a band, Johnston is accompanied by an old Discman with recordings he probably put together in Garageband. While playing songs about fast food, his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, and his mother's cat, he belched and perspired up and down the stage. Firing snot rockets with apologies that he had a cold, and hurling self deprecating insults like boomerangs. He capped off the evening by playing his encore in the bathroom.

Against Me! - The West End Cultural Centre - April 3rd

From the moment Laura Jane Grace walks onstage she steals the show. Her booming snarling voice filled the West End Cultural Centre, sending shock waves through the crowd. Especially notable was the lack of dude bros, with a huge female and trans presence in the crowd. After the show Matt Williams and I stood around hoping to get an interview with Laura. We waited near the exit for nearly an hour, talking to a 15 year old girl and her dad who brought her to the show. They told us that they'd been to every Against Me! show in the prairies, even driving down to Minneapolis to see the band that held a special place in her heart.

From the moment Laura Jane Grace walks onstage she steals the show. Her booming snarling voice filled the West End Cultural Centre, sending shock waves through the crowd. Especially notable was the lack of dude bros, with a huge female and trans presence in the crowd. After the show Matt Williams and I stood around hoping to get an interview with Laura. We waited near the exit for nearly an hour, talking to a 15 year old girl and her dad who brought her to the show. They told us that they'd been to every Against Me! show in the prairies, even driving down to Minneapolis to see the band that held a special place in her heart.

Killer Mike - Union Sound Hall - June 20th

*Cover of R.A.P. Music used under fair use license One of the few shows I went to that I didn't shoot, but was incredibly memorable. One of my favourite moments was when he had the entire crowd chanting "Fuck Ronald Reagan!"

*Cover of R.A.P. Music used under fair use license

One of the few shows I went to that I didn't shoot, but was incredibly memorable. One of my favourite moments was when he had the entire crowd chanting "Fuck Ronald Reagan!"

Russian Circles - The Pyramid - September 19th

It's hard to describe the feeling this show left me with. It was one of those rare performances where the people on stage almost seem to disappear under the weight and ambience of the sound they create. The whole crowd was shrouded in a cloud of fog that seemed to pulse and explode with each note.

It's hard to describe the feeling this show left me with. It was one of those rare performances where the people on stage almost seem to disappear under the weight and ambience of the sound they create. The whole crowd was shrouded in a cloud of fog that seemed to pulse and explode with each note.

Fucked Up - The West End Cultural Centre - September 23rd

This show was fucking bonkers. Damian Abraham's dynamic performance is like an emotional breakdown that tears through the crow.  His pantomime performance had him shedding his shirt, jumping down from the stage and into the crowd, to the very back of the venue where he grabbed someone's draft beer and doused himself, crumpling the cup and suctioning it to his forehead, leaving it there for the next several songs, then removing it and drinking the perspiration that accumulated. Also notable was his overwhelmingly inspiring attitude, imbibing the crowd with at least a temporary sense of hope.

This show was fucking bonkers. Damian Abraham's dynamic performance is like an emotional breakdown that tears through the crow.  His pantomime performance had him shedding his shirt, jumping down from the stage and into the crowd, to the very back of the venue where he grabbed someone's draft beer and doused himself, crumpling the cup and suctioning it to his forehead, leaving it there for the next several songs, then removing it and drinking the perspiration that accumulated. Also notable was his overwhelmingly inspiring attitude, imbibing the crowd with at least a temporary sense of hope.

Fred Eaglesmith - The Park Theatre - October 2nd

I'll admit, I had never heard Fred Eaglesmith prior to Exclaim! hiring me to shoot his show at the Park Theatre. My friend and fellow Exclaim! contributor Sheldon assured me that we were in for a good time. Eaglesmith's merry band of pranksters are like a psychedelic roadshow that set out on the open road sometime in the 60's and still haven't run out of gas. 

I'll admit, I had never heard Fred Eaglesmith prior to Exclaim! hiring me to shoot his show at the Park Theatre. My friend and fellow Exclaim! contributor Sheldon assured me that we were in for a good time. Eaglesmith's merry band of pranksters are like a psychedelic roadshow that set out on the open road sometime in the 60's and still haven't run out of gas. 

The Smalls - The West End Cultural Centre - October 24th

I didn't truly understand how special The Smalls were until I stood among the aging prairie punks. Someone standing next to the stage put his arm around me and yelled into my ear "I'll be the first to buy one of those prints." I could tell that The Smalls were one of those bands that really spoke to him. He's probably heard these songs a thousand times.

I didn't truly understand how special The Smalls were until I stood among the aging prairie punks. Someone standing next to the stage put his arm around me and yelled into my ear "I'll be the first to buy one of those prints." I could tell that The Smalls were one of those bands that really spoke to him. He's probably heard these songs a thousand times.

Greg McPherson - The Good Will Social Club - November 9th

GMac has a voice like no other. Perfect for belting working class rock 'n' roll and giving inspiration talks to a room full of friends and neighbours. A show highlight, as seen in this photo, was when Hailey Primrose joined him to sing "Tourists" from his latest album Fireball.

GMac has a voice like no other. Perfect for belting working class rock 'n' roll and giving inspiration talks to a room full of friends and neighbours. A show highlight, as seen in this photo, was when Hailey Primrose joined him to sing "Tourists" from his latest album Fireball.

The Flatliners - The Park Theatre - November 27th

I probably should have also included Slates and The Greenery here as well seen as all three bands that played that night played solid sets.

I probably should have also included Slates and The Greenery here as well seen as all three bands that played that night played solid sets.

A Tribe Called Red - Union Sound Hall - December 11th

*This photo was actually taken in September of 2013 when A Tribe Called Red played a free show a the University of Winnipeg. I didn't bring my camera to the show at Union Sound Hall.  Seeing A Tribe Called Red on Treaty One Territory is always an incredibly powerful, especially in a packed crowd that includes the Grand Chief of Manitoba, Derek Nepinak and Anishinaabe singer songwriter Leonard Sumner.

*This photo was actually taken in September of 2013 when A Tribe Called Red played a free show a the University of Winnipeg. I didn't bring my camera to the show at Union Sound Hall. 

Seeing A Tribe Called Red on Treaty One Territory is always an incredibly powerful, especially in a packed crowd that includes the Grand Chief of Manitoba, Derek Nepinak and Anishinaabe singer songwriter Leonard Sumner.

Books I read in 2014 by Greg Gallinger

2014 is quickly approaching its close, which means it's time to take a look around at the empty chip bags and dust off the cat hair to reveal the piles of books I claim to have read over the last twelve months.

Though what I noticed this year is that the number of audiobooks outweighed the number of dead trees.

So I suppose this is in reality a list of the books I read and/or listened to throughout 2014.

I've also come to notice over the course of compiling these lists that I have little patience for bad literature. I rarely read through an entire book that I don't like, so te majority of the list is of books I quite enjoyed. Though there are a few stinkers among the otherwise satisfying list.

So here it is in alphabetical order.

Revolution - Russel Brand

Failed States: a Lecture - Noam Chomsky

Is There Hope in This Desperate Time? - Noam Chomsky

The Militarization of Science and Space - Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions - Noam Chomsky

On Anarchism - Noam Chomsky

On Democracy, Independence and Peace: what are the prospects? - Noam Chomsky

Problems of Knowledge and Freedom - Noam Chomsky

Understanding Power - Noam Chomsky

What We Say Goes - Noam Chomsky

Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (Indigenous Americas) - Glen Sean Coulthard

Queering Anarchism: Addressing and Undressing Power and Desire - Edited by C.B Daring, J. Rogue, Deric Shannon, and Abbey Volcano

The World Until Yesterday - Jared Diamond

This Time We Went Too Far - Norman Finkelstein

What Gandhi Says - Norman Finkelstein

War, Geopolitics and History - Robert Fisk

From Beirut to Jerusalem - Thomas Freidman

Anarchism and Other Essays - Emma Goldman

The Exception to the Rulers - Amy Goodman

No Place to Hide - Glenn Greenwald

The Autobiography of Malcom X - Alex Haley

This Changes Everything - Naomi Klein

Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach - Kenneth Kobre

Drift - Rachel Maddow

The Day the World Ended - Joseph Marshall

Armed Madhouse - Greg Palast

Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War - James Risen

Dancing On Our Turtles Back - Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Islands of Decolonial Love - Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

The Divid - Matt Taibbi

Malcolm X: The Last Speeches - Malcolm X

On the merits of being bored and cooped up by Greg Gallinger

The polar vortex that chilled much of the Northern Hemisphere to the bone also had a psychological effect on many of us living in the more affected areas. My usual penchant for outdoor adventures and spontaneous photowalks were reduced to calculated supply missions to the corner store and brief reprieves to warm coffee shops.

This winter has been taxing on creative minds, as others can well attest. But we're all sick of hearing about it, as a friend remarks:

"If I hear anyone else say it's been a loooooong winter..."

So we try to keep ourselves occupied until we can roast in the burning sun again.


If you follow me on Instagram or Tumblr, you may already know what I'm getting at. In my restlessness I retreat to the afternoons of my youth, inspired by Mr. Dressup, Art Attack, the Big Book of Science Experiments, and the baby sitter who kept me occupied with afternoon crafting projects. I look to the objects around me. What entertainment can be had with the items at my disposal?

It was this mental state that lead me to create a series of images of liquid & colour, movement & stillness.

How they were made was supposed to be my secret, until my partner, Melissa spilled the beans.

Yes, that graceful ballet of colour is actually just food colouring in a toilet bowl.

But I'm not ashamed. I didn't plan on detailing the process of how the images were captures. I'm sometimes fascinated with the act of removing finished images from the context of their creation. But sometimes it's humourous to see peoples reaction to what is really going on.

Against Me! at the West End Cultural Centre (a photographic review) by Greg Gallinger

Stylus Magazine sent Matt Williams and I to the West End Cultural Centre to catch Against Me! with Laura Stevenson and the Cans, and Cheap Girls.

Matt wrote a really nice review that you can checkout over at Stylus.

We arrived at the venue and waded through the crowd collecting in the lobby. Matt b-lined it for the front stage left, whereas I hung back sipping a beer I didn't even really want to drink trying to assess the lighting situation and work up my nerve to start shooting.

Shows at the West End always start/end early due to noise curfews in the neighbourhood, which means the first half of the show usually has a much smaller crowd. This was a sold out show, but until the headliner goes on there always seems to be a bubble between the stage and the crowd, who stand apprehensively at a safe distance. This part of the show fuels my trepidation, I fire off a few shots of the openers, getting confortable, slowly working up the nerve to get closer to the stage. It sometimes feels like walking through no man's land, cautiously aware of the crowd behind me.

I can see that Matt is enjoying the show. He comments to me that Cheap Girls performance warranted the purchase of a t-shirt. Their laid back college rock reminds me of Matt's former band Haunter, so it's no surprise that he's digging it.

Laura Stevenson and the Cans up the energy level a few notches with their accordion and xylophone accents on top of songs about death. Matt observes that the openening acts feel like the calm before the storm, I nod in agreement.

Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!

My comfort level increases as more people gather in front of the stage. I feel most at home when I can blend into the crowd with my camera. People's excitement for seeing Laura Jane Grace, the dynamic front woman of Against Me! and subject of recent articles in Rolling Stone, Elle, and even Cosmopolitan, is palpable. Feedback rolls through over the PA and the crowd grows restless.

Suddenly the band takes the stage and the place explodes as the first notes of FUCKMYLIFE666 echo out across the crowd.

I'm usually forced to shoot with split focus, my eyes on the stage through the viewfinder, but my arms braced, ready for the inevitable onslaught of a kettled crowd. However tonight is different. Sure the crowd is bursting with energy, but there's a noticeable lack of machismo.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the most recent release from Against Me! Deals with Laura Jane Grace's personal journey of self discovery and battle with gender dysphoria. The response from fans has been an outpouring of support, epecially amongst young people struggling with similar issues. This is reflected in the diverse demographic of the crowd. There are more women in attendance than I think I've ever seen at a punk show.

The joyful exuberance of so many of the girls standing right up front is mirrored by Grace's own expression. You can tell that she's cut out for the stage.

Being a longtime Against Me! fan I can't help getting caught up in the excitement, mouthing words to some of my favourites, like Cliché Guevara, Walking is Still Honest, and Sink Florida Sink, as I scan the stage with my camera. But I can see these songs mean so much more to some people. Pulling on their heart strings. It must mean a lot having someone to look up to who is brave enough to publicly address deep personal issues so candidly.

I could probably go on and on about how amazing their performance was, instead I'll leave with you with the images I captured.

Big Fun! by Greg Gallinger

Last week I had the pleasure of shooting the Big Fun Music Festival. I got to shoot in three different venues around Winnipeg, including The Ballroom, which I didn't even know existed.

From Big Fun's website:

"Using Winnipeg’s prairie winter as the backdrop, the festival will showcase the best of Manitoba’s current and upcoming artists as well as some hand picked acts from across Canada. The Big Fun Festival wants to give the people of Winnipeg a reprieve to the brutal winter by organizing a unique and exciting weekend of events in the bitterly cold stretch of our darkest month."

I can definitely get behind their mission. It can be a daunting task to even think about leaving the comfort of your own home when it's 40 below. The cold and the wind and the cost and the energy weigh down on you, pulling you deeper into your couch cushions. But along comes a music festival in the dead of winter to coax you from hibernation.

Every show was well attended, so they must be doing something right.

Transient

My personal highlights were Warsaw follwed by Metz on Thursday night at Union Sound Hall. Even though I was being repeatedly shoved into the stage, holding my gear for dear life and fending off flailing throngs of testosterone, I had a blast. My plan was to get some shots from up near stage left, then wander to the opposite side and get some shots from behind the crowd. That's not how it went down though. As soon as Metz struck the first chord, the crowd erupted, I squeezed my way to the front and was then pinned against the stage until the house lights came up. Luckily it was the best shooting angle I could have been forced to stick with. On the musical side, I loved how Metz's entire set seemed like one long performance. I dont' remember their being even a moment of silence between songs as they were all weaved together with feedback and ringing notes and distortion. Props to sound guy Cam Loeppky for manning the board that night.

The other standout performance was B.A. Johnston, who brought his deep fried comedy rock to the Windsor Hotel. Johnston started and ended his performance in the bathroom, which he proclaimed made the Albert's urine soaked salle de bain seem like paradise.

You can see many of my photos from Big Fun in Stylus, in the Winnipeg Free Press, and on Flickr.