2017 for me was the most exciting and awakening year of music I have ever experienced. I feel as if I won the “life lottery” when I think back to all the unbelievable musical experiences this past year. Concert Photography has allowed me access to some of the best bands on the biggest stages, yet not every memory comes from a massive show. The following is a compilation of my personal favorite performances of 2017. These are the type of musical experiences that you can’t stop thinking about days after the show. The type that make you want to run out and buy every album and T-shirt a band has to offer. While I definitely had a hard time narrowing it down to just 10, I feel as if these particular shows are categorized for me, as beyond exceptional.
10. Ecliptic Vision – The Lost Horizon Syracuse NY 01/28/2017
This was the show that changed the entire direction of my life. Prior to going to this show I had taken a 2 year hiatus from photography and I remember wanting to shoot this show as a way to see what Syracuse Music was all about. I honestly didn’t have very high expectations as I felt as though most of the talented musicians here ended up chasing careers in bigger markets. Then Josh Rivet, Vince Lawler, Derek Ponton and Ryan Caughey took the stage. These guys were driving and powerful, the type of sound that makes you move without even trying. There wasn’t a down or boring moment in their sadly too short set. I instantly fell in love and have never had a boring concert experience when these guys have been on stage. I have since seen many metal shows, some put on by bands with millions of fans but no Death Metal band this year moved me like Ecliptic Vision. They Restored my hope for Death Metal and for the Syracuse Metal Scene. I would soon come to realize how many talented bands there actually are Central NY but they were the first band to really blow my mind in Syracuse. They recently released an EP called Omphalos of the Void but it’s quite honestly not enough, so if they read this : Get in the studio and record more songs!
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9. Helms Alee – Great Scott Boston MA 06/04/17
Seattle based Sludge Rockers Helms Alee played a set opening for Mutoid Man mid year in Boston and I remember thinking how much their music felt to me like a religious experience. One minute you are standing there checking your facebook to see is playing next, then you witness 3 musicians plug in their instruments, the hum of the guitar hits and then before you know it the sound immediately puts you into a trance. I connected with their heavy sludge like rhythms and loved the way the vocals carried you down into the depths of their musical vision. Even now, thinking back on this night I wished I had pulled out my cell phone to capture them on video but I was completely dumbfounded most of the set. Hozoji Margullis, drummer for Helms Alee was one of the most hypnotic presences I saw on stage all year. At times it felt as if her sticks had light trails and I became fixated on every beat. Slowly head banging and begging the Universe to allow them just one more song. Amazing show!
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8. Gojira – Starland Ballroom Sayerville NJ 05/07/2017
I remember feeling rather pissed off the night of this show as a mistake at will call prevented me from catching Devin Townsends full set. I had never had the opportunity to catch Gojira live but from what most people told me they were phenomenal. They opened with “Only Pain” as if to tell the audience they were about to get sore. My jaw dropped and I haphazardly attempted to sing along as these guys from France absolutely reigned fire down on this crowd. Mid set the entire crowd began screaming out “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! prompting Joe Duplantier to stop in amazement and to let the crowd know that nobody had ever chanted that during a set. It was a performance I will never forget. I would ultimately see Gojira 3 more times this year but for me, this was the one that made me a life long fan of this exceptionally talented group of musicians.
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7. Diluted – The Bug Jar Rochester NY 05/20/17
Diluted have been one of my personal favorite NY bands from the time I was able to reviewed an early copy of their EP “Never Fit In”. This particular night I decided to see if these guys were as good as their album and man…Were they ever! The entire venue was packed front to back on a night when another local favorite Sirens and Sailors was putting on a sold out show of their own down the road. The venue itself basically turned into one hour long tornado mosh, preventing me from taking any photos worth re posting. These guys have a unique sound that you don’t often hear much of these days. A sound that reminds me of what it felt like hearing “Around The Fur” by the Deftones for the first time as a teenager. I felt that old angst rise up in me and I honestly considered throwing myself into the pit. I can’t wait until these guys release some new music.
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6. Mihali & Friends Night Lights Music Fest
I was really unsure of what to expect prior to this set as I had just began listening to Twiddle but I was not particularly familiar with them enough to know how truly amazing a musician Mihali is. A woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said “This is going to be goooooood” as if to prepare me for the wild ride that was about to happen. He was joined by members of Aqueous and Mister F and it was the type of performance that I started texting my friends about afterwards. I remember thinking how fluid everything sounded, they flowed so well from one song to the next. These guys easily Jammed their way through one of the most fun set lists I had seen that entire weekend. Every person in that crowd going absolutely nuts. The entire experience was like going on an exciting ride at a fair and immediately wanting to ride it again. It was amazing and the event solidified my love for Jam bands as well as Mihali as a musician. The sky was crystal clear and the temperature was right for a perfect night of music and these Mihali and Friends absolutely delivered!
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- Derek Jones
Stay Tuned for the Continuation…..