Commentary

Chromatic Anthem is a showcase for the music photography of Jacob Drabik. It exists to promote live music in Cincinnati and the surrounding tri-state region. Jacob is a designer and photographer living and working in Cincinnati, OH.

 

Har Mar Superstar at MOTR

Sean Hughes is a friend, a mentor, and both a talented teacher and artist. For as long as I’ve known Sean, he’s been a huge fan of Har Mar Superstar. Har Mar was not really on my radar, but I’ve been carrying this little fact around the the back of my head for nearly a decade now.

On Saturday, March 8, 2014, I was enjoying Cincinnati’s Bock Fest with several other photographers, writers, and staff members of CincyMusic.com. We were having a wonderful time, but I was beat and decided to head home.

After making many excuses about being a exhausted, being a wimp, being a whatever, I made way out the door and headed to my car. Walking down Main Street in OTR, I noticed a familiar, very distinctively baby-poop colored car. Walking by MOTR, I noticed a flyer for tonight’s Har Mar Superstar. Why the hell didn’t I know this was happening?

I immediately got my second wind, and raced home for my gear. When I came back down, and fought my way through the crowd, there was Sean, his wife, and several of their friends whom I adore immensely.

I knew that Har Mar seemed a little eccentric, and I assumed it was very much a novelty act. I was a bit wrong. Har Mar is an incredibly talented musician and entertainer. Songs were rocking, and songs were soulful. The crowd was wild, and everyone was happy.

Sometimes Cincinnati feels like a little town, where you can just stumble upon wonderful friends, and a wonderful time.

Flogging Molly at Bogart’s

Just before I was given the opportunity to shoot for CincyMusic.com, I submitted to to shoot one single show. It was for one of my favorite bands, at one of my favorite venues.

I found the contact info for Bogart’s, and wrote an impassioned plea to the management, describing my long history attending their venue, and how I’m a huge fan the band Flogging Molly, and never miss any of their shows. I gushed. I flattered. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea that I was doing it so very wrongly.

My wonderful contact responded with a simple: “OK. I’ll see what they say…” Knowing that wasn’t a good sign, I bought a ticket for the show.

I was never approved, but I had a wonderful night. That was January 27, 2013. I’ve covered many amazing performances in the fourteen months since Flogging Molly was in town last, but few have made me as happy as they have. Every single time. So few bands can play so passionately, for so many shows, for so many years.

I’d like to thank CincyMusic.com, Kelly Painter, Ian Bolender, and the rest of their amazing, hardworking crew for providing an outlet for me and so many other Cincinnati photographers to practice the work we love. Thanks guys.

Josh Ritter at the Taft Theatre

Josh Ritter brought a small crew to play an intimate, acoustic set at Taft on a cold winter’s evening. I’ve really enjoyed his last couple of albums--I’m particularly drawn to his well-crafted song-writing style. This was definitely a show I would have enjoyed seeing more of than he three-song shooting limit allowed.

Galactic at the 20th Century Theatre

After a warm and pleasant set from Ryan Montbleau, Galactic filled the stage with groove. Then Maggie Koerner joined them on on stage and, together, they blew our socks off.

Pike 27 at The Northside Tavern

I love these guys, and I was so excited to finally see their show. I knew Pike 27 had a reputation for smart song-writing, and a phenomenal live performance, and the stories are definitely true.

After a six-year hiatus, the original band-mates Dave Purcell and Sean Rhiney have teamed up with the very talented Mike Fair and Dave Killen. Although, I was never fortunate enough to see the earlier incarnation of Pike 27, I can’t imagine them being any better than they were tonight. I enjoyed myself immensely, and I can’t wait to see them again soon.

Pike 27 are (once again) quickly becoming a fixture in the local scene, and I couldn’t be happier.

Man Man at The Southgate House Revival

I believe the radio personality said that it was “currently 10° in the Cincinnati area” as I got out of my car, stripped off my jacket, scarf, and gloves, grabbed my gear, and hoofed it three blocks to The Southgate House Revival. On this unseasonably cold January evening, I was about to see one of my favorite bands, playing in one of my favorite venues. I had been looking forward to my first shoot of the new year and was excited that it was going to be Man Man.

I hadn’t seen Man Man live since they were promoting their second album—what was that? Three albums ago? Seven and a half years ago? Man. It was at the Lite Bright Test, an indie music and film festival that took over the old Southgate House for three nights in July. I was already a fan of their second album, Six Demon Bag, but I wasn’t prepared for their raucous, high energy set. It was magical, and I was in heaven.

But that warm Summer evening was a long time ago, artists evolve, and there has been a lot of turn-over in the band. I was really curious to see how they had faired over the years.

In my excitement, I arrived at the Southgate House Revival very early, so I did what any good photographer would do: I settled in, grabbed a beer, and double-checked my gear. All cards formatted? Check. All batteries charged? Check. All glass clean and bright? Check. All the while I was watching people slowly roll into the Sanctuary. I was starting to worry that the this recent stretch of bad weather was going to keep everyone away. I had heard that ticket pre-sales were strong, but it wasn't looking good.

By the time Xenia Rubinos took the stage the audience had grown to a fair number, but the large room wasn’t feeling nearly cozy enough for such a cold night. Once Xenia Rubinos started singing, I forgot all about the awful weather. Her robust voice and aggressive keyboard playing, paired up with her band-mate, Marco Buccelli’s powerful, but precise drumming, immediately throttled me into attention. Their sharp performance felt more choreographed than composed, and the music they produced was rich and bold. I felt very lucky to witness this captivating spectacle.

I was so entranced that I hardly noticed that the room had filled during their set.

Man Man took the stage with 100% of the gusto I was hoping for. Bounding on stage in matching skeleton costumes, they pounced on their instruments with ferocious vigor, and opened the set with a wild abandon. Beautiful, chaotic music.

I was so carried away with their high-energy performance, and my own excitement at seeing one of my favorite groups, that it took awhile for me to realize that the band seemed much smaller than I remembered. I can’t remember exactly how many people filled the stage the first time I saw them perform (maybe seven?), but this line-up certainly felt much lighter. Fortunately they didn’t sound lighter. Their songs were fast, layered, rich, and loud, and when Xenia Rubinos joined them on stage, I couldn’t have been happier.

As I was working my way around the stage earlier in the set, I noticed Xenia and Marco watching the show from the side. Actually Xenia was smiling, dancing, and singing, and they both seemed to be truly enjoying themselves. As we all were.

I’m not sure how long these bands have been touring together, but it’s certain that Honus Honus and crew have found their perfect partners.

India.Arie at The Taft

During my first oportunity to shoot at the Taft Theatre, India.Arie’s uplifting energy filled the auditorium with joy and promise. It was a beautiful show, and after Gramps Morgan warm and up-beat opening preformance, the happy audience sang and swayed, clapped and laughed. I was very glad to have experience this evening.

GWAR at Bogart’s

GWAR. Amazing. What else is there to say?

I’ve Been Busy

I’ve been busy for the past month or so, but here some of the wonderful bands I’ve had the opportunity to cover:

…and that’s not considering the MidPoint Music Festival.

Rancid at Bogart’s

I have to admit, that I didn’t realize that Tim Armstrong was so prolific. I knew that Rancid was very influential, but when I was younger—and they were in their hay-day, I never had much appreciation for their music. Boy, was I foolish.

The Interruptors were high-energy and fun, but it was Tim Timebomb and Friends that really got my attention. Once they wrapped up, I spent the rest of my time between sets researching Tim’s history. And yes, I realize that I should have done this before the show. Mea culpa.