I Tasted Chaos

It's not a comeback, it's not a revival, it's not really nostalgia, well, maybe it's a little of some of those things for some but for me (and probably a handful of others) this is the music we listened to 14-16 years ago and never really stopped listening to. That's the thing about people who say things like "Seeing Dashboard, 16 year old me is freaking out" or "I loved this Taking Back Sunday record in high school", I can't relate to these sentiments. I can shamelessly name every record that those two bands have put out and with even less shame I can sing along to every one of those records. 

When thinking about how to approach this blog, I couldn't nail down exactly how I wanted to convey everything I wanted to without writing a novel. So my conclusion, write a novel. There's really no better way to do this than to share what this all means to me and there's no better place to start than with The Early November. The first time I saw TEN, it wasn't even the full band, it was Ace on the Where's The Band Tour in 2012 or something close to that. TEN means a little something special to me because in college I had the Drive Thru DVD that I watched maybe six billion times with my little brother. Years later my brother would go through some rough times and ultimately join the Marines and do a pair of tours. I'm skipping a ton of details here but the relevant one is that my brother came back with a pretty significant case of PTSD. He has good days, others aren't as good but one thing is certain, when we talk about music he comes back to me, to us. I'm getting emotional just talking about this but when my brother hears songs like Baby Blue or Every Night's Another Story, his face glows, his tone of voice changes and just for a moment I have my brother back and it means the world to me. So when I'm with Ace and shooting his band and I'm singing along, these words hit hard and straight to the heart. On top of this, Ace has had some guys fill in for the original line up. Life happens and I 100% get it. Honestly, I'm not even mad about it. Time before this I was out with a band opening for The Early November and Bayside and I met Tom Ryan and Jake Lang. Those dudes are solid dudes. Jake is out doing rad drum tech things with At The Drive-In but Tom was back out and while sitting around after getting into Detroit, I ran into him. It's so good to see familiar faces at these things. Overall, I love these dudes. They've always been so kind to me and have say nice things about my pictures when they don't have to. 

Tom Ryan backstage shot with my Nikon D610 50mm f/1.8

As far as the set goes, every time I've shot/hung with The Early November I leave just floored that after all these years, guys who are my age, can still go out and nail these songs that are decades old. I only say this because their energy is unmatched and there are days that if I slept the wrong way, I have a hard time getting out of bed but these guys go out there through their bodies all over the stage. I digress (as I have a tendency to do). If for no other reason, every person should hear Ace sing Ever So Sweet at least once. It's moving, it's emotional and to me, it's the quintessential reason music should be performed live. 

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I'm not sure what else I can say about Anthony that hasn't already been said, the guy is fun, full of great stories and gives me some great hugs. The aforementioned Jake Lang was out with Circa Survive with Anthony last fall and that was the first time I got shoot anything related to Mr. Green. Months later I would take some pictures when he was out on his solo tour and then a couple months later I was out with them in San Antonio when he came back with Saosin. Needless to say, I've seen Anthony more than I've seen my dad in the last year. Not really sure if that means I need to see my dad more or I've just seen Anthony that much. In any event, the impact this guy has had on the scene is second to none. The show that I shot on Taste of Chaos was far away from home for me but I whether it's in Texas or Michigan, that guy can command a crowd. 

If you haven't already heard the new Saosin, there better be a good reason. This being my second time getting the pleasure of shooting in this band in just a short few months, I can say that they only get better with each show. As a photographer, the energy we're able to capture is phenomenal, it's incredible fun. It's so much fun that for the better half of the set just watching. I miss so many shots because I'm looking with my eyes and not with my view finder and quite frankly, I'm completely ok with that. 

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I'm loving this so far, the memories, the songs, the shows we all drove hours to get to and drove back home to make to school and/or work the next day. When we were young we all that one friend that would tell us about bands before they got big or before you heard of them. I had that friend and she would tell us about bands all the time. The first time I even heard the name "Taking Back Sunday" it was in print on a shirt, black with blue print and it read "¿Quien es mas macho?". Shortly thereafter I snagged Tell All Your Friends and was hooked and not regular hooked but every song became such a big deal to me the more I heard it. I've seen TBS more times than I can remember but a couple of memorable tours were TBS/Underoath/Armor For Sleep, TBS/Anberlin/The All American Rejects and TBS/Letlive/The Menzingers. That last show was the first time I had the chance to take their pictures at a show. It was first show I shot where I had a "real camera". Happiness Is... just came out just like every record before that, I enjoyed the shit out of it. This one was a little more special or had a little more appeal to it because the original line up was back together again. 

Before the set, I was talking to Adam and noticed his hat, more specifically, his wide brim fedora. I had gotten the exact same hat a couple of months ago. Basically me and Adam are twins, basically. Outside of impeccable style that is Taking Back Sunday, they do one thing very, very well...they know how to put together a set. It's really an art to take the discography like they have and thread a night with new material, the songs we all know they'll play and some others in between. Personally, my favorite part of the last two times I've seen them was singing John Nolan's parts right along side with him. I mean, when you're listening to Tell All Your Friends, you never sing Adam's parts, you do the back up vocals. So for me, that's some of the best times at the show. Second best thing is watching the microphone slinging. It really doesn't make sense. That microphone, in theory, should have slapped him in the face a hundred times in the set. If it were me, I would have knocked out every band member, including myself, Mr. Bean style. 

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This last part, this final curtain call of a passage, this end scene may feel like any clip from Lord of the Rings, where you think it's over but...not really. In high school, Linda, she was my girlfriend. I'm not entirely too sure when she burnt me a copy of The Places You Come To Fear The Most but I remember two things from that burnt copy. 1) I really thought she would have had better handwriting (she wrote out DC and the album title) and 2) I wanted to sing like Chris. And then there was the MTV Unplugged 2.0 DVD/live CD and I realized, some dudes were just born with "it". Not sure what "it" is but Chris had it. Maybe it was the charm or the hair or the tattoos or some of the most unforgettable lyrics but he had "it". Fast forward to last year, I remember a friend telling me that Dashboard was coming to town and had this itch to be there, to shoot it, to be a part of the happenings. Through a stroke of luck I was there. I was shooting the show. It was happening. 

Small interlude, coincidentally while shooting Taking Back Sunday I met a young gentleman by the name of Clark Terrell. Through an exchange of information, we started texting and quickly became friends. We both were shooting the Dashboard show last year and rode together to the venue. I love this kid. He's one the best in the game and has taught me so much about being a proper show photographer. 

Ok, back to the show last year. While waiting for DC to take the stage we met another guy, Ryan Vestil. This guy, he's something else. When the show started Chris made an announcement that we could shoot the entire set, granted we were out the way. Not many photographers stuck around for the whole set, actually, there were exactly two, me and Ryan. I've spare you the details but me, Ryan and Clark have all been great friends ever since. All because of music. All because of this. These guys make a daily impact on my life. Music does this. Thank you music. 

Back to this year, Chris has been one of my biggest supporters from the day we started talking. I could make a case that it was his show that really got me out there. When I saw him hours before the show, moments before the VIP performance, I knew I was somewhere I was meant to be. I don't need to explain how the Dashboard music as impacted so many people in so many ways. All you need to do is get on any form of social media and see what people are saying. But to see it first hand, multiple times, that's a treat to see. We walked over to the VIP tent, he says hi, people look up and see this guy who's been the soundtrack to their lives and with his sense of humor and approachable personality, people learn one thing very quickly, he's just the nicest dude. 

Chris has done a fantastic job of culling some of the best players for his band. Armon, Ben and Scott are just some of my favorite guys. I could listen to each of those dudes talk for hours. They all come from very different backgrounds and they, like any great brotherhood, are pulled together and have a fun cohesive vibe about them. Post show hangs, pre show talks and watching them all live, that's one thing I'll take from this day and remember. I am leaving out a lot of happenings from this day but these are the ones I felt like were worth mentioning.

I've blabbered on and on about a lot of things. I don't need to explain to anyone the magic that is a Dashboard Confessional show. It is a very powerful thing to see Chris start off singing a line into the microphone, step back and listen to thousands sing in his place. I'm grateful that people who've had such a profound impact on so many people is still not only able to tour but to headline for thousands every night and recreate these moments for us, line by line, song by song. What a great privilege it was to spend time with some friends and to see this all over again in person.  

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