Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hugely popular at TBDfest: Porter Robinson: synth-pop veering towards soundtrack... take a listen!

Porter Robinson
Porter Robinson, TBDfest 2015
Beautiful stage set and graphics, lightshow, and the very popular Porter Robinson with his own brand of synth-pop-electro-house, Upbeat, cheerful, very danceable: at times, almost orchestral. Saturday evening on the main stage at TBDfest this year!

Porter Robinson
Porter Robinson,and fans, TBDfest 2015
For all the photos, take this link to the Porter Robinson photo gallery, or click on one of these images.

Porter Robinson
Porter Robinson, TBDfest 2015
More info:  and

Concert photography, EDM, Pretty Lights: TBDfest and a sky of night.

Pretty Lights
Pretty Lights and the TBDfest audience
EDM (Electronic Dance Music, electro, techno... you know what I mean) isn't always the first genre of music that comes to mind when thinking about concert photography. It's sound best experienced in a midnight club, or a darkened secret festival field, and it doesn't (often) have leaping guitar players or expressive vocalists to capture images of. It borrows and remakes sound from other sources, other musicians, (sometimes paying them royalties for the samples, sometimes not, but that's not a rathole I'm going down today), adding or enhancing the drum and bass rhythm to an almost-hypnotic state. What are you going to photograph, one guy hunched over a couple of computers? Most often, yes, and that's probably why you don't see many photo galleries of EDM performers.

Pretty Lights
Pretty Lights, TBD 2015
Pretty Lights headlined the second day of this year's TBDfest, one of several EDM performers at this year's festival. While Derek Vincent Smith has on occasion performed with live musicians--even an orchestra, at one time--at this show, he was alone on stage (unless there were others hiding behind the huge, I mean, HUGE, lit-up deck that he was working from). And the show very much lived up to the band name: Pretty Lights. The huge festival site was instantly transformed into a mega-night-club, but with sky for a roof and a ferris wheel as the far-away back wall.

Pretty Lights
Pretty Lights, TBDfest
Hypnotic and danceable.
Lights, smoke, lasers, video screens: giant illuminated balls on stage, balloons, glow-sticks, hoops in the crowd.

Pretty Lights
The pit is no place for photographers at most EDM events. At best, you'll get a few up-the-nose, laptop-obscured shots of the musician's face. They might be animated on stage, like Madeon, but often not. And you'll see none of the interaction or activity that you will at a rock concert.

(Access rights permitting), this is one time when you really, really, really want to be at the sound desk. If possible, up on a raised sound deck, with a view over the crowd. Take your longest lens.

You'll be photographing the atmosphere, not the performer. It's as simple as that. EDM+people=atmosphere, and be ready to be surprised with what you find in your camera.

Pretty Lights
Audience enjoying Pretty Lights, TBDfest, Sacramento
Pretty Lights, the crowd, the movement and dance, the heat of a Sacramento night... it was all quite magical. (The strange, purple-pink blob that appears in a few of these photos? It was a pink flamingo with glow-sticks around its neck. Look out for the giraffe, too!)

More photos from Pretty Lights' set can be found in the TBDfest Pretty Lights gallery. Also, some of the crowd shots are in the TBDfest People and Art gallery, too. And if you want to know more about how Pretty Lights music is created, there's a good documentary online,  And all Pretty Lights music is available, free, on the website.

Pretty Lights
Pretty Lights, TBDfest, Sacramento 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

TBDfest, new music, hip hop, rap, crews, and Ralph Lauren undies

Ty Dolla Sign
Ty Dolla Sign, TBDfest, 2015
Last year, TBDfest 2014, I came away with one band added to my must-listen list: The War On Drugs, and a few others who I wanted to listen to further... Kurt Vile, MS MR, to name just a couple.

Towkio,, TBDfest 2015
This year was different: my take-away was not about one particular band or performer, but rather an opening of ears and appreciation to musical genres that I might not often listen to, and rarely take the opportunity to see live. This will now change. I'll be looking for the poet behind the words.

Mobb Deep at TBDfest 2015
Mobb Deep, TBDfest 2015
This is what I love most about TBDfest: the unique mix of music that pushes each-and-every-one of us beyond our comfort zone. Whether it's metalheads listening to hip hop, classical ballerinas dancing to EDM, or pre-teens hearing Tears For Fears for the very first time... it's all wonderful. I love it.

Tyler the Creator
Tyler The Creator, TBDfest 2015
The hip-hop and rap performers at TBDfest this year, for the most part, showed their poetry, their soul, their hopes and their dreams and their conscience, above and beyond the litany of mysogeny and insult that is far-too-often a huge part of these genres.  I particularly enjoyed A-1, Towkio, Ty Dolla Sign's performances... I can't say that I'd want any ten-year-old children of mine singing along with some of these songs (go google the lyrics if you want to know why), but I did enjoy the shows.

A-1 at TBD 2015
A-1 (Adam Traore), TBDfest 2015
(I don't know about Sacramento's Death Grips. I arrived to their end of the festival ground late in the set, entranced by the ballet happening between Purity Ring and Death Grips' stages. I couldn't see anyone's face in the back-lit dark, and the only word I understood was "California". I obviously missed something special... Will have to check them out another time.)

Death Grips
Death Grips, TBDfest 2015
(I still don't understand the droopy-pants-showing-your-nice-underwear thing. Heck, I admire you if you can run and jump with your pants somehow staying magically suspended just short of revealing everything, because it must be about as tricky as running in sand while wearing stilettos, but... I still want to offer to buy you a belt, and/or braces/suspenders, and/or The Right Size Trousers. The falling-down-pants-style has to be about as useful a fashion as bustles were to women, and only half as practical as codpieces were to men. I really don't get it. Maybe someone could help explain?)

Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper, TBDfest 2015
See all the photos for each of these performers at this year's TBDfest here, by clicking on their names, or by clicking on the individual images above:

A-1 (Adam Traore)
Chance The Rapper
Death Grips
Mobb Deep
Ty Dolla Sign (TY$)
Tyler The Creator

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bridging the weeks between TBD and Aftershock? Listen to Zardonic! Antihero, out now.

You went to TBDfest, and you're going to Aftershock too, right?

Want to listen to something that fits into both?

Try Zardonic. New album, Antihero, is out now. Here's a sample. Maybe we can get him into the lineup at one, or both, festivals next year? Pretty please?

A Place To Bury Strangers at TBD: keeping the guitar industry going!

A Place To Bury Strangers
A Place To Bury Strangers
A little closer to my musical comfort zone than some of the ultra-laid-back-hipster-"rock"-music bands at TBD Fest (most of which I really enjoyed, but one of which, Friday evening, was so laid back that I thought they had frozen solid, or were at minimum, comatose, but that's the photographer-looking-for-action speaking, not the music-listener-on-the-couch): A Place To Bury Strangers made sure nobody, nobody was napping on Sunday.

A Place To Bury Strangers
A Place To Bury Strangers, TBD 2015
Smashing guitars, wood flying, holding broken strings and playing them anyway, this New York, three-man Brooklyn band bring slightly-distorted guitar and distinct, fog-bound mayhem to the stage.

If you are standing close to the stage, you might want to bring a hard hat.
Buy their album, Transfixiation, here:

More pictures in the TBD Fest A Place To Bury Strangers photo gallery!

(And talking about my musical comfort zone... do you have your tickets to Aftershock Festival yet???)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Madeon, on t'aime beaucoup! Merci! (We really enjoyed the show at TBD!)

Madeon, TBD
Madeon, TBD Fest, Sacramento
This young man, and the "young" part is literal, he is all of 21 years old, held thousands (tens of thousands?) of people entranced, spellbound, and dancing, late Sunday at TBD Fest. Huge crowd, beautiful lights, and music that moved your feet, arms, everything for you.

Madeon, TBD
Audience, Madeon, TBD Fest, Sacramento
Heavier than pop, though Madeon's first real success was a mashup called "Pop Culture", back in 2011, you know, when he was just REALLY YOUNG. Darn fantastic production that. Take a listen if you haven't already. Today, it's been heard 31-and-a-half MILLION times on YouTube. (Pop trivia--see if you can name all the songs. According to Wikipedia, there are close to forty songs in the mashup.)

Madeon, TBD
Madeon, TBD Fest, Sacramento
On Sunday, Madeon (real name, Hugo Pierre Leclerq, from Nantes, France) kept the crowd enthralled for over an hour. The music was great, the lights, fantastic.

Madeon is on tour in the USA: several dates to come in Texas, then Vegas, and finishing with a little place called Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York.

Madeon, TBD
Madeon, TBD Fest, Sacramento
Go have fun!!!

More pictures from the Madeon show at TBD Fest 2015 can be found in this photo gallery.Just click the link, or any of the images in this post.

For more info about Madeon, see his Facebook:

TBD: to begin at the end, Chromeo: smoke and mirrors

Dave-1, Chromeo, TBD
Smoke, mirrors, chrome, lots of chrome... and womens's legs.

P-Thugg, Chromeo, TBD 2015
Chromeo, last show of TBDfest for this year. The duo from Montreal, Dave 1 and P-Thugg, AKA David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayal, "romantic electro funk", it's like pop on steroids. You just want to dance...

And the crowd went wild...

Chromeo, TBD 2015
More photos in the TBD 2015 Chromeo photo gallery!

Follow @alisontoon on Twitter to receive notification of postings of other TBD 2015 photos, or Like Toon's Tunes on Facebook.

Chromeo, TBD 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blackjack Billy: new single, Night Light... country and lovin' it

Blackjack Billy at California State Fair, 2014
Blackjack Billy, Sacramento, 2014
New single from Blackjack Billy is out now: Night Light is less rock that earlier songs, but it's rather beautiful. Hear it on iTunes and get this one playing on your local radio station. It's going to be hard to remove from your ear once you have heard it. Earworm warning!!!

"I'll be there to hold you for the rest of your life..."

If you haven't yet seen these guys live, track them down and refuse to leave until they put on a show.

Papa Roach, Reno, on the road but not far from home, and tonight, we're all family

Jacoby Shaddix, vocals, Papa Roach
Jacoby Shaddix, Papa Roach, Reno NV
One thing was really clear during Papa Roach's show at the Lawlor Event Center in Reno, NV last week: they are much loved by the local family, and that showed in the entire performance. (And by "local", I mean Vacaville in Northern California stretching through Sacramento and right up to Reno, as there were family and friends who had made the jump up to see Jacoby Shaddix and the band, as well as the truly-local-down-the-street Reno fans.)

A happy family, and for one evening, we were all within the embrace, the whole crowd, everyone in the audience, and maybe all of Reno, too.

Jacoby Shaddix, vocals, Papa Roach
Jacoby Shaddix, Papa Roach, Reno, NV
I last saw Papa Roach at Aftershock in 2013, in Sacramento, on home turf, under the hot, hot September sun. It was a love-fest, until, of course, the Wall of Death, when the crowd splits in two and then runs into each other. For those readers who haven't (yet) been to a metal festival or a Papa Roach show, the Wall of Death is like a circle pit, but in straight lines. OK... That description doesn't help? Think huge Black Friday shopping crowds waiting for shops to open on opposite sides of the same street, with doors unlocked at exactly the same moment, and everyone running to feed the shopping frenzy right NOW. That image work? That's the Wall of Death, but the feeling is much more satisfying than a cheap TV: the crowd divides, like the parting of the sea, and then... SMASH.

If you think for a moment that the band doesn't care about people being hurt, forget that. It's all good fun, intense, good, fun. At one point Jacoby noticed someone in the audience needed help, and stopped, mid-song, until they were helped out and able to give the metal horns salute to show all was well: back to the crazy crowd that is a Papa Roach show.

Jacoby Shaddix, vocals, Papa Roach
Papa Roach, Reno, NV
(Metal/rock/core crowds are so much fun to be part of... I only saw a couple of crowdsurfers all weekend at TBDfest, and one of them was a woman who had fainted and was being lifted over the barrier, sorta unintentionally crowdsurfing... just not the same crowd as the Papa Roach and Five Finger Death Punch audience, though they were just a little more restrained than usual in Reno!)

Jacoby Shaddix, Papa Roach, and Maria Brink, In This Moment
Maria Brink, In This Moment, and Jacoby Shaddix, Papa Roach, Reno, NV
But it wasn't all mosh pits and heavy: a lovely acoustic version of Scars, played from the crowd, and Maria Brink of In This Moment joined the band on stage for Gravity. (But I'd like to bet that for much of the audience, the earworm the next morning, even after all these years, is still Last Resort... it's kinda persistent.)

The latest album, and ninth studio album, from Papa Roach, F.E.A.R, was released early this year and is available in both CD and vinyl from the band's website, as well as your usual music outlets.

The tour with Five Finger Death Punch continues throughout the USA and then on to Europe. Catch this tour--you won't regret it, but you might if you miss it.

More photos from the Reno show in the Papa Roach Reno photo gallery, or just take a short cut by clicking on any of the images above.

See the other reviews from the Reno show: Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, and From Ashes To New. Huge show, four very entertaining bands, and very well worth the price of a ticket and a two-hour bus ride from Sacramento.

Jacoby Shaddix, vocals, Papa Roach
Jacoby Shaddix, Papa Roach, Reno NV

Monday, September 21, 2015

People of TBD 2015: thankyou, thank you, Thank YOU! #wearetbd

TBDfest music, art and  more
The spirit of TBDfest: music, art, performance and that something special
Before I post any more musician photos, before I write any reviews of the performances, I want to say thank you--thank you, to you, the people of TBD. To the organizers, for bringing this event to live once again, on probably the dustiest site this side of the Sahara, for making it work, and for making it a place for so many people to have fun, play music, dance and enjoy a fantastic weekend. I hope that you see that all the hard work and stress and sleepless nights were worth it, again. Thank you!

Art competition
Art competition, TBDfest 2015
And to every one of the volunteers and stagehands and workers and security guys and people working like mad in the food trucks and vendor booths: thank you. And to all of the artists, before and during the event, sharing their talents: thank you!

And, of course, to every one of the musicians, who played on stages under what felt like 200 degrees of blazing farenheit sun or in the heat of the night: THANK YOU!!!
Making your friends have their picture taken
Making your friends have their picure taken, cos that's what friends do
To the guy who kept the loos clean (we really, really, really appreciated that!) and the people who kept the garbage under control, and those of you who sprayed the ground to keep the duststorm from happening: thank you!

Secure at the festival, TBDfest 2015
And to all the performers who were not on stage, but who popped up here-and-there, day-and-night, to entertain, enthrall and surprise: thank you!!

Fire dancers
Fire dancers, TBD 2015
And... to everyone who came to the festival, in your shortest shorts, dressed as fauns and satyrs and pink elephants and wearing your best dresses, mega eyelashes, three-inch wedge shoes, Doc Martens, mirror sunglasses, underwear, man dresses, kilts, denims, beautiful summer dresses, wigs, peacock feathers, Mickey Mouse ears, and just about anything else; those who made their pals pose for photos, the ones who danced like no-one was looking, the ones who just danced; THANK YOU!!!

Trapeze performers, TBD
Trapeze, TBDfest, 2015
You had fun. You were well behaved and only crowd-surfed when you fainted and someone had to lift you out of the crowd (did I mention it was 200 degrees farenheit???) You didn't fight, as far as I could see, and you came in peace. You moved like the ocean and you supported each and every one of the musicians, and then you rode your bikes back home in the Sacramento midnight, because that's who you are and that's what you do.

Audience at night
In the crowd, TBDfest 2015
That was a wonderful weekend.

Audience at night
Yes!!!!!   TBDfest 2015
There are "people" and "art" photos in the People and Art of TBD photo gallery. I'll be adding more as I find them in the thousands of photos to be edited from this weekend.

If you find yourself in one of these pictures, feel free to share on social media: look for the Facebook, Twitter and other buttons and use them!

To be notified of additions to the People gallery, or when artist photos and reviews are published, and more about music in general, follow @alisontoon on Twitter and/or "like" Toon's Tunes on Facebook.

Audience at night
In the crowd, TBDfest 2015

Five Finger Death Punch, Reno NV, and have you Got Your Six yet????

Five Finger Death Punch and fans
Five Finger Death Punch
What do I say? You all know already how much we love Five Finger Death Punch. You're not going to get a blow-by-blow, song-by-song analysis of the show here: I bought tickets the day they went on sale so that we could be there, photo or press pass or not, and really didn't expect to shoot the whole show. But I tell you, MAGIC HAPPENS around these guys.

Ivan Moody, vocals, Five Finger Death Punch
Ivan Moody, Five Finiger Death Punch
Appreciation for veterans and for the kids at the show. A pantomime moment when Jason Hook steals up the stage and Ivan doesn't see ("He's behind you!!!"). All the hits, all the words you learned not to say but can't resist singing along anyway; wonderful music, superb musicianship, terrific show and oh... that voice.

Chris Kael, bass, Five Finger Death Punch
Chris Kael, Five Finger Death Punch, Reno, NV

Jason Hook, guitars, Five Finger Death Punch
Jason Hook, Five Finger Death Punch, Reno, NV

Jeremy Spencer, drums, Five Finger Death Punch
Jeremy Spencer, Five Finger Death Punch
I am still smiling, days later, along with, I expect, everyone in the audience at the Lawlor Event Center, Reno. I don't think they get to see many metal bands in Reno. Maybe more big bands should stop there on their way around the USA. It's only a couple of hours "up the hill" from here in Sacramento, and it's a nice alternative to battling Bay Area traffic.

Zoltan Bathory, guitars, Five Finger Death Punch
Zoltan Bathory, FFDP, Reno, NV
There were only a couple of songs played from the new album, Got Your Six. Does that mean there will be a new tour, immediately after this one, to play all the new songs? When can I get a ticket for that tour? Let me know, ASAP, because I'll be there.

More dates on this tour, and then in Europe, and then on a boat, see the band's website:

For all the photos from the show, go to the Reno Five Finger Death Punch gallery, or click on any of these images. Usual process!

In This Moment, a show in Reno, an "aha!" moment... and a new single available today

In This Moment
In This Moment, Reno, NV
Third time seeing In This Moment live (if you count the webcast from last year's Knotfest), and it's taken until now for me to really appreciate the blending of music and sheer entertainment. Third time's a charm, right? (This time, in Reno, Nevada, touring with Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, and From Ashes To New.)

Maria Brink, vocals, In This Moment
Maria Brink, In This Moment, Reno NV
What made it click? That "aha!" moment: knowing that at least one of these perfomers has pushed right through the physical and emotional pain barrier to do what they love best. Oh... and a great visual and theatrical show, of course!

Maria Brink, vocals, In This Moment
Maria Brink, In This Moment, Reno NV
In This Moment on stage appears to be very much the Maria Brink show, front and center, but In This Moment is the entire band: Chris Howarth and Randy Weitzel on guitar, Travis Johnson on bass, Tom Hane on drums, and two lovely dancers. Gaga-esque, indeed, but not pop, not by a long, heavy, metal, bargepole.

In This Moment

New single, "Big Bad Wolf", is out now, and the tour continues: catch them if you can!

Many more photos from the Reno show in the Reno In This Moment photo gallery. Or click on a pic!

Maria Brink, vocals, In This Moment
Maria Brink, In This Moment