White Lung at Negative Space by Greg Gallinger

After my day job on Monday night I hopped the first bus back to West Broadway, quickly grabbed my camera gear, and hopped another bus to Chinatown. I was feeling electric because White Lung, a killer punk band from Vancouver was playing at Negative Space, an equally cool art studio that doubles as a jam space and hub for resistant culture.

I first heard about from a couple friends living in Vancouver. This past summer I picked up a copy of Sorry on vinyl, it was one of those albums where the cover caught my eye and then I remembered the good things I had heard about them. I wasn't disappointed when I put the needle down on the grooves, nor was I disappointed after Monday's show.

I got off the bus at Main and James and wandered towards Princess. Chinatown is a lonely post-apocalyptic scene on a Monday night, even by Winnipeg standards. But as I approached the unobtrusive building that houses Negative Space I could hear the telltale signs of an underground punk rock show. It's about as grungy as you expect from an underground art space full of twenty and thirty somethings drunk, on drugs, or just having a good time. There's no security, no asshole bouncers, and as long as you aren't being a dick no one seems to give a shit.

As someone who grew up going to basement shows, listening to punk rock and hardcore music, venues like Negative Space are everything I'm looking for. However as a photographer hoping to make some cool images I was less impressed that the entire jam space was being lit by a pair of 60w lamps located BEHIND the band. I usually start by assessing the lighting, where my subject is, look at where to position myself and how to frame up some shots, and then fire off some test frames to get a sense of what ISO/aperture/shutter speed I can use, but when I looked at corner of the room where bands had set up my first reaction was "Fuck."

Given that I was at a punk show I figured it would be ok to crank up the ISO. My 5D Mark II can handle it pretty well, and who gives a shit if there's grain, all those black and white photos of 80's hardcore bands that I love are all grainy as hell and low key. So I accepted my situations (and the fact that I didn't pack my flash), dialled up the ISO to 3200, set the slowest shutter speed I could get away with while still being able to freeze the majority of the action, and tried to avoid pointing the lens directly into the lamps.

Salt Lick, Breath Grenades, and Systematic started the evening off. Unlike most shows I go to, there was actually a decent sized crowd in attendance for the openers. White Lung capped off the evening with a short but energetic set, with songs from Sorry and their self-title album. Although I enjoyed the opening bands White Lung really stole the show. Mish Way, singer and front woman for the 4 piece has an incredibly commanding presence. Her golden hair was in luminous contrast the sea of black clothing and the high contrast lighting. I decided to take advantage of this by trying to shoot silhouettes, framing the lamps behind Mish's head in effort to get a sort of halo effect.

Although I would have liked the lighting conditions to be better I enjoyed the challenge. I discovered ways of working with terrible lighting, and tested the limitations of pushing exposures. Next time I might go early and ask to set up a few more of my own lights.

The evening got me excited to shoot more music. Hopefully people enjoy my music photography as much as I do, because it's such a blast to shoot.

If you want to check out more photos of White Lung you can see them on flickr.

If your band is playing, or you're promoting a show and want photos please shoot me an email, I'd love to work with you.

Goodbye for now, Lo Pub by Greg Gallinger

The Uniter quoted me in one of their articles about the closing of Lo Pub.

My remarks are from an email I sent to the Uniter. If you're interested in the whole email here it is:

The orange-brown colour palette and general decor gave you the sense that you were walking into a basement den from 1979. The couches near the fireplace were quite possibly the cosiest place to drink outside of one's own home. Better than home though The Lo Pub was always packed with familiar faces. The Lo Pub was more than just another bar, it was common ground for local musicians, artists, progressives, urbanists, and beer drinkers.

On any given night you could walk in and see a whole crowd of your friends. It was closest thing I've ever experienced to Cheers. Maybe not everyone knew your name, but they recognized you and acknowledged that you're a kindred spirit.

I never felt awkward going to The Lo Pub alone, in fact usually looked forward to sitting down at the bar to nurse a pint of St. James, read through the local weeklies and catch up with Jack. I knew I could always count on hearing some great tunes and running into some friendly faces.

Jack gave a lot of young up and coming bands a shot to rock the stage. As patrons he exposed us to new music we might otherwise not have heard. The location had the advantage of forcing bands and fans to mingle with each other. There was no backstage, no greenroom for bands to retreat to, as a result artists and fans co-existed as one. The Lo Pub was a place that encouraged conversation and a sense of community.

I'm going to really miss The Lo Pub, not because I'll need to find another place to drink, but because there will now be a void in the local music/art community.

It feels like Grampa sold the house to move to a nursing home and now the new owners are ripping up that old familiar basement den to turn it into a workout room.

I wish Jack all the luck in the world with whatever he has planned for the future. Hopefully he creates something as wonderful and important as The Lo Pub, because Winnipeg needs those kinds of places, and needs people like him.

The Lo Pub will be missed by Greg Gallinger

If you weren't at the Lo Pub on Saturday night you missed a spectacular show. Before the last band of the night, Still Lights, were about to take the stage I heard the sound guy say that Jack, proprietor of the now defunct Lo Pub, wanted to say a couple of words. I quickly headed to the front of the stage with my phone to capture what I knew was bound to be a touching moment. So here it is.

Propagandhi - Failed States by Greg Gallinger

Chris Hannah, via

“Failed States”, will be unleashed on September 4th/ 2012 via Epitaph Records, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy it’s contents before Nibiru comes flying out of the Oort cloud and annihilates Earth in late December, vindicating paranormalists and pseudo-scientists worldwide for about 14 nano-seconds.

Epitaph records has a short write about about the new album with a track list and a jpeg of the absolutely gorgeous cover art (which I believe was painted by none other than Todd the Rod and laid out by Amphibian).

Keener that I am, I've already pre-ordered the LP (on blue vinyl!) and will now spend the next month and a half listening to the title track on continuous loop.

Independent music at its best by Greg Gallinger

Friday night I attended the CKUW Fundrive wrap-up event at the Lo Pub here in Downtown Winipeg. It was a great night of local music featuring the bands of the new Winnipeg record label, Disintegration Records, cofounded by Greg MacPherson and Cam Loeppky.

The room was packed when I showed up fashionably late. I missed Slow Dancers but Nova was just getting started. Unfortunately I was distracted by friends and procuring beer and forgot to take any photos of them, but I can assure you they rocked.

The room was already buzzing, but when Cannon Bros. took the stage everyone in the crowd took note. The two piece consisting of Cole Wood and Alannah Walker always seem to stand out despite their quiet personas. They played most of their recently released album, Firecracker/Cloudglow. If you've never seen them live, Cole and Alannah take turns on guitar and drums, switching off every couple of songs depending on the set list. Alannah's singing has a hint of Tegan and Sara, whereas Cole's reminds me of Stephen Carroll's work in the long defunct Painted Thin. Cole usually steals the show with his stage presence, whether he's pounding on the drums like John Bonham, or making up awkward dance moves.

After stepping outside for some much needed fresh air it was back up to the front of the stage for my friends Haunter. If you've been to any local shows in the past couple of years, especially at Lo Pub, you've probably heard Matt Williams belting out over the microphone with a guitar in one hand and a beer in the other. You may also recognize some of his bandmates from earlier on in the evening (Cole as mentioned earlier in Cannon Bros./Slow Dancers, and Marie France of Slow Dancers). The guitar section lead by Jory Hasselman makes frequent use of vibrato, and exploit the distortion and feedback of their amplifiers. Like so many rock bands before them, I think Haunter's goal is to be the loudest band in town. But they aren't just about volume, Haunter is a hard working band that make honest music. Their late night anthems compel you to down your drink, raise your glass in the air and then have another for the road.

Conclusion, it was a great night of local independent music in one of the best venues in town. If you dig music with a bit more meaning and heart than whatever's being recycled on the Top 40 you should support community radio like CKUW.