There’s something nice about the traditional lineup of an opening act plus a headliner. Any metal fan will tell you that there are times you’ll go to a show where it feels like the talent buyer made a bet to see how many bands they could fit onto a single bill.
A younger, more energetic me would argue that a five band bill is the way to go. Five bands for the price of one! A whole night of music! Today, I’m on the other side of 35 and I have an 11 month-old; a five band bill will require a great deal of Red Bull and self-affirmations to survive. Our Lady Peace is not metal, of course, but the sentiment remains. I appreciated that I could check out a new act and then see the band that I came to see.
Openers These People kicked off the evening with a great set. I was immediately intrigued by their sound and by the end of their first song, “Stay Out of the Barn“, I considered myself a fan. The Long-Island outfit’s peaceful coexistence of psychedelic exploration and focused composition is a style that is unique yet familiar in the best way.
Whether by design or sheer coincidence, vocalist TJ Penzone’s face was cast in shadow for nearly the entire performance, and I became determined to grab at least a shot or two where the light was more directly on him. With some patience I was successful, but to be honest I ended up liking the shadowy shots a bit more. That said, you’ll never know what works best unless you give it a shot! No pun intended.
Drummers often get the shaft when it comes to shot variety, mostly due to them being further back on the stage and hidden behind their instrument. I was excited that in this case the drummer was front and center on the stage, thereby giving me the ability and the obligation to get plenty of shots of him.
These People closed our their set with “Is The End The End?,” and then it was time for Our Lady Peace.
One opener. One headliner. Nice.
In 2000, Our Lady Peace released “Spiritual Machines“, a prolific and critically acclaimed concept album based on Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines. The central theme of the book, and in turn the album, is artificial intelligence. The increasing presence of A.I. in today’s society and respective reflection by Kurzweil inspired a sequel album, “Spiritual Machines 2,” released by the band in 2021.
Our Lady Peace’s fascination with futuristic technology was on display in their stage production. Video screens played intros and interludes featuring A.I. characters and displayed holograms of former guitarist Mike Turner, as well as Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova. It was a creative and original way to include the special guests that were key to the performances of “All My Friends” and “Stop Making Stupid People Famous,” respectively.
The band opened with “The Message”, a dance-y track from “Spiritual Machines 2” that slowly sheds its synth-driven influence over the course of the song in favor of a guitar-heavy outro, courtesy of guitarist Steve Mazur. Mazur took his moment to shine, stepping into the spotlight and remaining perfectly positioned for me to capture a variety of shots of him as he brought the song to a close.
“One Man Army” was next, much to the delight of the crowd. The classic hit from their 1999 release, “Happiness… Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch“, involves the use of a megaphone by vocalist Raine Maida. Between Maura’s wide brimmed hat and the megaphone, there were a lot of cranium accessories (RIP Mitch Hedberg) that I needed to take into consideration when framing my shots.
I had an image in my mind: Maida facing in my direction, moving with the megaphone and the mic stand in a way where his face is not completely obstructed. That would be the shot. In the end, I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, but I still managed to come very close.
At one point, I can’t recall which song it was during, Raine Maida hopped off the stage and stood on the barrier, holding onto the hands of fans. I pulled out my camera as quickly as I could to capture this great moment from the band’s performance.
Considering that I have been a fan for decades, I’m not sure why it took me as long as it did to see Our Lady Peace live, but I’m glad that I did. Come to think of it, there are a lot of bands from the 90’s that I’ve just never gotten around to seeing. Is it too late for a New Year’s Resolution?