photography

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.

What's in my bag by Greg Gallinger

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Yes, I know this is totally cliché, but I always get a kick out of seeing how much crap photographers lug around. Here's what I'm usually carrying when I'm out taking photos (don't mug me please).

Left to right, top to bottom:

  • blower
  • Vivitar v3800N with 50mm f/1.7
  • Canon 200mm f/2.8
  • Canon 24 - 105mm f/4
  • Canon 5D Mark II with Sigma 35mm f/1.4 & handmade Couch camera strap
  • 35mm film (includes Lomography Lady Grey 400 ISO, Ilford Delta 400, and Fuji Velvia 100)
  • iPhone 4S (Running iOS 7, with Afterlight, Photoshop Touch Express, Camera+, & Instagram)
  • Filzer bike ratchet set
  • Canon 430EXII speedlight
  • Pocket Wizard Plus X
  • Canon 40mm f/2.8 with circular polarizer
  • Gorrilapod with hotshoe mount & Pocket Wizard Plus X attached
  • Keychain with keys and multitool
  • Ray-Ban New Wayfarer
  • Bic lighter
  • Sandisk 16 GB CF card
  • Sandisk 8 GB CF card
  • Lanyard (for press passes or keys)
  • Card reader
  • Water resistant camera cover
  • Lens cleaning tissues
  • Incase MacBook Pro backpack
  • Flask
  • Field Notes memo book & Bic click pen
  • EarPods
  • GoPro Hero 3
  • Keep Cup

I don't use a proper camera bag unless I'm shooting sports and am able to leave it in the press box. I find it easier to just toss everything in a backpack and go.

I hardly ever use the GoPro, but I should start.

When I don't want to carry all this I just take the Vivtar or the 5D with the Sigma 35mm.

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.