Al DrumsOkay, listen…this is probably more of a former concert photographer’s confessional, but the title will make sense if you just hang in there with me. It’s late (or perhaps early) and I should be in bed, as per usual. I’ve been working on a number of fiction projects lately and just can’t seem to stay focused on one or the other at the moment and so tonight, inspired by music, I subject you to a random meandering–sort of.

I’m not entirely sure why, but tonight Psycho Stick infiltrated my mind. It could be the fact that I’m drinking a beer at the moment and their song “Beer” popped into my head. I’m not much of a beer person. I try. Apparently, I prefer the darker and more bitter beers—whodathunkit!

Anyway, that band popped into my head and I suddenly remembered a time when my husband and I went out to see a large show at the Myth in Maplewood, Minnesota. For some reason, I don’t remember what other bands played that night, but I was particularly interested in Lacuna Coil. They played well and on our way out some really drunk guy mistook my husband for the male singer and wouldn’t let him leave without autographing his shirt. After professing he is not, in fact, that guy, my husband gave in (because the dude persisted) and signed his own name. I’m sure that the dude woke up the next morning wondering who the hell signed his shirt. To this day we laugh about it.

Regardless, as we left, we noticed the band hanging out by their bus at the back of the venue and I actually got to meet the female singer. I was pretty stoked about it, mainly because, as a vocalist myself, I admire her range. Unfortunately, that band has become so popular and over-produced that they just don’t have the same sound anymore, but I digress.

Later I eventually took that band’s photos when they played live at Station 4. I knew them and how popular they were at the time and so it was a personal challenge to remain professional rather than “fan girl.” I think I managed alright. I got some decent photographs too.

Okay, so back to that night…after my husband and I had the little meet-n-greet with Lacuna Coil, we wandered over to The Rock, which was just a few blocks away. Earlier in the evening someone in the balcony at The Myth had tossed down some free tickets to see Psycho Stick at The Rock and so we decided to check it out just because my son, who was in his very early teens at the time, really liked that “Beer” song that played on the radio.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we ended up having a really good time. I never thought the “Hokey Pokey” could ever be so cool and so heavy. About a year later, I ended up taking their pictures too. It was at a different venue but nonetheless, I was pretty stoked about taking photos for a band that was regularly played on the radio. And, of course, there was also the factor of the child with stars in his eyes because his mom was able to introduce him to the lead singer (clenches fist, blows on it and rubs it across chest). Proud moment.

That leads me to the main story. While I knew who those bands were when I took their live concert photographs, there were plenty whom I had no idea who they were. I often took concert photos at Station 4, which was typically known for the metal scene. Oddly, I was never all that into the type of metal they played. “Metal” had changed significantly since I was a teen. Once upon a time it was short for “heavy metal,” which is now referred to has “hair metal,” unfortunately. But now I have given away my age.

At any rate, I did not grow up in the Twin Cities and so did not experience the versatile music scene like many of my friends, acquaintances, and clients did. My husband did. And, so, when I was commissioned to photograph a show that DRI played I did not understand his excitement. He immediately turned into this boy with stars in his eyes. When I did not match his excitement, he asked me if I knew who that band is. Of course, my answer was a resounding “no.”

Oh lord! I never heard the end of it. I still don’t. It was “how can you not know who DRI is?” Of course, I’m probably exaggerating somewhat and only paraphrasing, but the sentiment is the same. I clearly did not know the caliber of the band I had photographed, which was often the case. My husband knew of many of the bands I had photographed and was geeked about it, especially DRI. My reaction was a shrug and “eh.”

In many cases, this aided in my ability to photograph them. Because I did not know who they were or that they were as famous as they were, I did not have stars in my eyes or the “fan” mentality while eyeing them through my lens, which gave me a unique perspective.

The only time this really backfired on me was when a band was fairly well-known, at least more well-known than I ever knew, and they expect me to know that they had some sort of clout. When I treated them like a regular human being but they expected to be handled like they were more famous than I thought they were…well, let’s just say they were severely disappointed. Sorry. No offense. I just didn’t know.

By the way, I know perfectly well who the guy is in the photograph I chose for this post. He is an amazing musician who has had a great distinction here in the Minneapolis music scene. He has since ventured on to greater pastures. But, I thank you, Al, for letting me attempt to play your kit, for teaching my kid, and putting up with my lens in your face.

Sleep tight for me. I’m gone.


About Jan Rain

See the About page. View all posts by Jan Rain

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