Anniversary with Abort Magazine

West of Hell

While I’ve been a photographic hobbyist for a number of years, I’ve only officially been shooting live music for one year now (for Abort Magazine).  In said year, I’ve had the opportunity/honour to photograph 159 different artists:  many of them local indie artists from the Vancouver area and from across Canada and the US.  I’ve also been lucky enough to shoot several big name artists in

Susie Meyers of Over the Coals

various venues in Vancouver:  from small pubs to arena shows and everywhere in between.  I’ve called The Rickshaw Theatre my second home and have had the chance to improve my skills in photography by dealing with different lighting in various rooms.  I even had the chance to shoot a two day festival in Armstrong BC (Armstrong MetalFest), and managed to capture every one of the thirty-two bands who performed there.  I work hard at what I do, and I feel the results are becoming better with every click of the shutter and my work becomes more and more consistent. There is certainly more to learn as I venture forth, discovering

Dez Fafara – DevilDriver

new angles and playing with light in ways that are more creative.  I strive to capture the energy of the performer, the visual display on the stage, and the excitement of the crowd.  I don’t always get it, but when I do, I feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside. I want to send out some love and thanks to all the amazing artists that have stood before my lenses and allowed me to capture their blood, sweat and tears and share them with the rest of the world.  And thank you to Abort Magazine for giving me the chance to do something that turns out to be what runs through my veins.  How did it take so long for me to find my path?

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society

Here’s all the artists I’ve captured (hope I didn’t miss anyone) with Facebook links:

Local to Western Canada Indie Bands (somewhat in order they were shot):

Pedwell, Sick Logic, Splittract, My Coma, Makaria, Abriosis, Titan’s Eve, West of Hell, Versus the Nothing, Ninjaspy, MassGrave, Astrakhan, ElevatorCompactor, Harvest the Infection, Needs, Cathar, Mete Pills, Life Against Death, Burning Ghats, Dungeons, Nightmother, Bear Mace, Dig Your Graves, Expain, Memorial, Aquanaut, WTCHDR, Anchoress, Galgamex, Avi Smith, Chris Witoski, Gavin Mullen, Jacob Dryden, Matt Cairns, Altered Throne, Dead Asylum, Auroch, Mitochondrion, Tyrant’s Blood, Weapon, Entity, Gross Misconduct, Nylithia, Erosion, Haggatha, Baptists, Hopeleus, Tobeatic, Anciients, Mike Hodsall, Johnny Wakeham, T. Nile, Gordon Smith, Over the Coals, Entropia, Cocaine Moustache, HellChamber, Jar, Zuckuss, Sinned, The Thick of It, Fallen Phoenix, Baryon, Out of the Ruins, Witch of the Waste, Magnus Rising, Holicus, Warlock Enforced, Terrifier, Striker, The Nautilus, Seven Nines and Tens, Wiser Fool, Hoopsnake, Black Wizard, Mournir, Lethal Halo, Iron Kingdom, Omega Crom, Scythia, Unleash the Archers, Slagduster, Snaggletooth, Bushwhacker, Remember Lite-Brite?, Guts & Glory, Damn the Eyes, The Easy Brothers, Bone Daddies, Howard St. Roy, Digging Roots, Gomorrah, The New Arcadia, Finishymn, Trollband, Cast Into Ashes, Scimitar, Death Toll Rising, Xul, Bison (BC), Deveined, Dissimillis, Drop Dead Fred, Atrous Leviathan, Meatcutter, Kyoktys, Mortillery, Divinity, Archspire, As the King, Maniac From Prison, Sexy Decoy, Destroy All, Amputoctopus, Dead Again, Hole in my Head, Northern, On Lock, Evilosity, Ogroem, God Said Kill, Red Ant Army.

Eastern Canada and International Touring Acts:

Steve Vai, Death by Stereo, Agnostic Front, Endast, Dayglo Abortions, Napalm Death, Municipal Waste, Insomnium, Alestorm, Epica, The Devin Townsend Project, Gojira, Jason Bonham, Witch Mountain, Scott Kelly and the Road Home, Exodus, Anthrax, Mouth of the Architect, Scale the Summit, Intronaut, Reign of Lies, Lightning Swords of Death, Melechesh, Vreid, Shinedown, KISS, Holy Grail, Suffocation, Death Division, Hellyeah, Device, Black Label Society, Megadeth, Fatality, After the Burial, DevilDriver, Trivium.

Great things are in store from the magazine and the great underground music scene we have here in Vancouver, so stay tuned!

Trent Hafdahl – After the Burial

Unleash the Archers

Frank Bello of Anthrax

Armstrong Metalfest 2013 Day 2 July 20th, 2013

AMF – Day 2 (click for full gallery)

West of Hell!

I woke up around 7:30am as the sun started to shine through my drivers side window, warming me to uncomfortable levels at a rapid rate.  I crawled out of my seat, grabbed a change of clothes and toiletries and headed towards the warzone for a shower.  The mens room was filled with hungover men attempting to clean themselves up for the days’ events.  Some were still drunk, some violently ill, and some were missing car keys and other items among the tent city party zone that was a hotbed of activity in the darkened hours before sunrise.  After what felt like an eternity, I managed to snag a shower stall.  Hoping for a somewhat warm shower, I was denied and instead was treated to one of the coldest shower experiences of my life, causing me to almost hyperventilate.  Working quickly, I managed a half-assed cleaning session and then hopped in the car for Vernon to get another memory card.

On the 20 minute trip there the only significant event I had come across was a young buck that had been struck overnight laying in the ditch dead.  No crazy Vancouver drivers, just the relaxed lives common to many folk from the interior.  I grabbed a coffee from $tarbucks and hit up the London Drugs on the main drag in Vernon for my card.  After viewing the selection of pro cards that I usually buy and being horrified by the local prices, I settled for a cheaper alternative and gave it a quick test in the parking lot to make sure it was in working order and headed back to camp.

Arriving back to my spot about a half hour before the first band, I managed to catch the award ceremony for the Pilsener box hat competition; a decent array of well crafted medieval and modern hats crafted purely from Pilsener boxes and flattened cans.  The judge wore what was, in my opinion, the best of the bunch…a Boba Fett helmet that pleased the Star Wars nerd within me.  Then into the arena I ventured to partake in the 17 bands that would be hitting up the stage.

Up first was a band from Prince George that I had heard a bit about from other bands local to Vancouver: Deveined.  Keeping the party rolling came Dissimillis and Drop Dead Fred.  Next up were my peeps in Dead Asylum (they would probably agree I should never call them peeps ever again) who late in the set brought out Alxs Ness (Abriosis) for an Amon Amarth cover.  Next up was Scythia, who (clad in their leather armor and medieval costumes) brought their form of story telling folk metal to the masses.  Then came the deeper, darker evils of Vancouver’s Auroch, followed by the energetic death metal band Atrous Leviathan.  The parents of the two brothers in the band stood proudly amongst the audience with band t-shirts that had “Band Mom” and “Band Dad” on their backs.

Proud Parents

Meatcutter was the next band up, followed by Kyoktys; whose bass player was a massive farmer (Quaker?) looking dude full of energy and character.  Then came one of Vancouver’s premier metal acts, West of Hell, who were originally formed in Australia and later added Zimmer’s Hole frontman Chris “The Heathen” Valagao.  They brought a ton of their show stopping props including snow blowing machines, smoke, an ice cannon and the ever popular grinder solo shredder.  These guys really like to put on a show, and must’ve been a bit tired having arrived to the grounds from their previous tour stop only moments before their set.  I hope it wasn’t too much of a pain for the staff and volunteers to clean up the pesky glitter that was everywhere after their set.

Mortillery had a tough act to follow, but follow they did, taking the crowd on an altogether different musical journey setting us up for another wild turn in another direction with Unleash the Archers who had shared their guitar player Grant Truesdell with West of Hell for reasons unbeknownst to me (did I really just use that word?).  Brittney Slayes and crew played their well rehearsed and powerful fantasy metal set ending with their popular song “General of the Dark Army” (music video).

Then came a band with a pair of vocalists sang in a style that was very metal but almost felt like rap in the way they played off each other – Divinity.  It was refreshingly different and you could tell that the second vocalist was the comedian of the group with his funny expressions that matched the big ape-faced shirt that he wore.


The madness did not stop there as the stage was graced by thrash artists Striker (Edmonton) and Holy Grail (L.A.) brought their high energy 80s style thrash to the visibly tired crowd.  Striker played on even though their lead guitar players’ amp had some kind of meltdown for over half their set and was replaced by a tech in time for the last couple songs.  As Holy Grail finished up their set, the crowd poured out to the parking lot to catch the action of Thrash Wrestling.

The wrestling match was a classic 80s style WWE type of match which pitted a pair of would-be enemies in a brutal no-holds-barred fight in and out of the ring.  There were ladders, chairs, doors, fluorescent tubes and various other props that had the crowd gasping, booing, and cheering by the end.

I headed inside immediately after the match to grab some prime real estate in front of the stage for the first headliner of the night:  Vancouver’s Archspire!  Once the sound tech got the steady thump of the kickdrum just right, Spencer let loose testing out his pedals and whipped the crowd into a frenzy.  Some of the most insane double kick I’ve ever heard pounded me in the chest at a ridiculous rate.

Oli of Archspire

Is this guy even human?  Their set was fast and furious tech/death with romantic interludes where frontman Oli shared life stories (and apparently at one point, his balls) with the crowd.

Finally the moment everyone had been waiting for…some little band from New York called Suffocation was up and the crowd went wild!  Frank “the tank” Mullen looked visibly affected by the “Canadian Hospitality” he had received from the other bands in their camp area until he raised the mic to his mouth.  The words took control as he spewed forth the lyrics familiar to so many in the crowd.  Derek Boyer would occasionally drop his BC Rich Warlock bass to the ground and pluck at it like its upright cousin

Suffocation’s Derek Boyer

while Terrrance Hobbs shredded solo after solo, braided hair flying around like snakes on medusa’s head.  Frank also told a great number of life stories in between songs and professed his hatred for beer and love for Jack Daniels.  Playing well past the midnight curfew, the people got what they wanted…a somewhat intimate show with a very experienced long time death metal band.

What will Armstrong come up with for next year?

Armstrong Metalfest 2013 Day One

Armstrong Metalfest Day One July 19th, 2013

Bison (B.C.)

After spending a few days visiting with my dad in Penticton, I headed North towards the wee town of Armstrong, BC.  Not knowing much about the festival other than it was supposed to be a lot of fun and was in its fifth year, I was surprised to see how big the festival grounds were.

A rather large compound had plenty of space for parking, camping and eating and had facilities typical of provincial campgrounds such as showers and washrooms.  There were some buildings on the ground that contained shops for things the local farmers might need to stock up on as well.

I stepped into Hassen Arena to pick up my photo pass and was pleasantly surprised I wouldn’t need to slather on a bunch of sunblock as the 2 stages for the event were inside this building.  Actually, it was just one stage that was divided in the middle by one of those blue modu-loc fences.  The set up was designed to be efficient with 1 band setting up while the other played.  Efficient it was, and play they did.

Gomorrah, The New Arcadia and Finishymn pounded out solid sets, followed by the barbarian painted slayers from Trollband.  Then came Cast Into Ashes, changing the direction back to the standard metal stylings and joined by Mike (one of the organizers) bringing his dry humping antics onto the stage.  Next up was Expain (formerly The Almighty Excruciating Pain), a band I’ve shot a couple times before.  Near the end of their set, a large number of friends and musicians joined them for one last performance of  “The Taco Song”.  Then came the heavy groove of Grand Forks’ Slagduster, whose frontman is full of character and has dreads that have a life of their own.  Another barbarian band rounded out the night: Scimitar!  Then another couple Vancouver favorites, Over the Coals and Xul performed near flawless sets for the growing masses.  Another band that was a first for me was Edmonton’s Death Toll Rising, a melodic thrash group that has elements of death.  Another Vancouver Thrash group, Terrifier, brought their classic style of the genre and their unique stage presence to the stage.  Another long time Vancouver group Tyrant’s blood brought forth terror and doom as the final act before the full stage was set up.

While said stage was being set up, back in the campground area the crowd was getting wild with the 100 Man Shotgun.  Many a beer can was pierced and beer spewed forth through the air to the cheers and delight of all the participipants and onlookers.

Nylithia was the first headliner of the night and the first time the little arena had pretty much filled up for the day.  They brought more energy to their set than I’d ever seen from them before, playing destructive hyperthrash to the massive sea of sweaty, smelly, somewhat tired onlookers.  The Vein of Creation graced the stage at one point and fired t-shirts into the crowd from a menacing looking cannon and the Trainsaw was driven into the crowd and promptly obliterated by the violent masses.


Bison (B.C.) rounded out the night with their incredible stage presence and heavy sound that droned the crowd into a daze.  Though they played a solid set, it was much more calming than their predecessors set and a great way to soothe us for some sleep to prepare for day 2.

I had only brought 4 32GB cards with me and by the end of the day I was a little ways into my 3rd card.  I was going to need to drive to Vernon in the morning and get another card so I wouldn’t run out.  I retired to my car to get some well deserved sleep and retired to the soothing sounds of an all night party in the distance.