For the first time in well over a decade, Head Automatica embarked on a tour of the US last month to coincide with a handful of previously announced festival appearances. Ohio-based glam rockers Foxy Shazam joined them for the tour which came to a close Friday night on Head Automatica’s home turf of Long Island, New York at The Paramount in Huntington.
Foxy Shazam was up first and pardon my French but holy fucking shit. The band blasted off with “Unstoppable” and left me standing mouth agape and speechless as I tried to process the epicness before me. They were incredible chaos from the very start.
When you see a band with the level of energy that Foxy Shazam has, you somewhat expect the guitarists to be in your face with their instruments flailing about – what you don’t expect is the keyboardist to be doing the same, and with a full size digital piano no less. It was impressive to say the least.
Every member of Foxy Shazam demanded the crowd’s attention with their showmanship, all displaying an enthralling individuality unified by their interaction and hyping up of one another. The band’s set was an incredible ride from start to finish, the setlist featuring a large sampling of tracks from their 2008 and 2010 releases, Introducing and their self-titled album, respectively. Foxy Shazam filled the crowd with energy, leaving the fans floating in the stratosphere so that Head Automatica could catapult everyone into another galaxy.
There was a familial warmth in the air as Head Automatica took their homecoming stage. The band launched into “At the Speed of a Yellow Bullet” while frontman Daryl Palumbo made his way to center stage, grabbing onto the mic stand and delivering the opening lyrics to the song, and to their 2004 debut album, Decadence.
Dancing was instantaneous amongst the crowd and went into full swing when the drum beat for “Brooklyn is Burning” began to echo through The Paramount. Palumbo was all smiles and feeling the love, acknowledging friends and family with waves throughout the night; the vibes were good and the music was great.
The band played Decadence in its near entirety over the course of the set with a few tracks from their sophomore release, Popaganda, included as well. The performance served as a reminder of just how fun those albums are, and begs the question: will there be a new one coming in the future?
I’ve gotta say, because it bears repeating, that switching to shooting in monochrome has been a game changer for me. Not just because I have a better idea of what my edit will look like, but also because it strips away the distraction of color and allows me to focus entirely on the light. I can more easily see contrast or the lack thereof, and given that I tend to like photos that look as dramatic as possible, focusing on the light alone allows me to be more selective with the shots and more patient as the stage lights do their thing, waiting for the right moment.
I think of it like an acoustic vs. electric guitar. An electric guitar allows you to create a multitude of sounds; your underlying musical knowledge of the guitar itself is only but a part of the process, as effects are their own world of knowledge apart from music theory. An acoustic guitar, on the other hand, is all about technique. It’s where your talents are laid bare. It’s often said to learn guitar on acoustic first then switch to electric. In the camera sense, I think the same can be said about black and white photos and color. Black and white is the acoustic guitar – you rely on the skills of your composition and understanding of light to tell the story. Color is the electric guitar – you take the skills that you know and you apply the brilliance of color, unlocking a multitude of ways to enhance the story that you’re telling. Color adds another dimension just as effects pedals do.
You don’t always have to learn acoustic first, just as you don’t have to start with black and white, but I’m finding it to be a nice artistic reset. Focus on composition, focus on light. Master those, then move on to color. Will the photos on this site remain exclusively black and white forever? We’ll see. I’m happy you’re along with me for the journey either way. I digress – let’s talk about the actual show.
Foxy Shazam was a challenge to shoot for the best reason: there was too much fun to capture. I found myself being a bit frantic with my shooting and had to take a second to breathe and start over, making my way from one member to the next to ensure that I was getting shots of everyone. My focus was not without plenty of distraction as I was using one eye to shoot and the other eye to look at the other members to see where I should point the camera next. A bit crazy while it’s happening, but the adrenaline rush is a fun one.
After shooting from the pit, I was working on getting different vantage points from the crowd and decided to play around with double exposure. At one point, frontman Eric Nally was moving his arms from side to side as he was dancing, and I grabbed this double exposure which I was stoked about:
I enjoyed doing double exposure so much this time around that I think I’m going to make it a point to do it at any shows where I can shoot outside of the pit moving forward. Once I’m comfortable enough I’ll try it in the pit too, but that time is so precious that I don’t allow myself any real time for experimentation.
Head Automatica’s set was a lot of fun to shoot too, and I spent some time messing around with double exposures of frontman Daryl Palumbo. Here’s one of my favorites:
It’ll work better cropped to portrait, but it’s definitely a keeper. I’m looking forward to diving into and prioritizing this stylistic approach more moving forward. As I go down the rabbit hole I look forward to sharing with you what I learn. Stay tuned!