The Script is a band that will be timeless to me forever. We all have one. Perhaps because they were our first live show, perhaps they were our first crush, or perhaps they made music that moved us when we needed it most. Whatever the backstory, we each have that one band, that one artist that holds a special meaning to us. We may even have more than one, but no matter where we are, we know when they come to town we must see them and when we hear them on the radio, we must crank it up. The Script is that band for me. They hold a special place in my heart as they were the band that forever changed my life and my direction of photography.
Popular in their native Ireland and nearby UK, The Script hit American charts in 2010 with their single “Breakeven” and as they exploded on to the scene here, their American following began to amass. It was the summer of 2011 when I heard that they would be playing The Great NY State Fair. As a freelance photographer at the time, I wanted to see if I could get a photo pass for the day to cover the two free shows at Chevy Court. So with camera in hand and my nicest smile in the bag, off I went to try and secure one. I had heard a song or two from each band, and thought it would be really cool to add these photos to my portfolio of bands that I knew would one day be huge. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a journey that has led me to where I am today.
Thanks to a few kind souls that day, I lucked out and was granted a photo pass for the afternoon show to cover Hot Chelle Rae. In fact, little did I know that this day would be the beginning of my five seconds of fame as well. As I shot photos of the meet and greet, the Hot Chelle Rae team was also shooting footage for a new video they were creating for their next single, “I Like It Like That.” Included in that video was the footage from Syracuse and okay, it was more like one half of a second at 2:46/.47 that I was spotted in the frame, but hey, I’m in it! #superstar. As the day proceeded I hoped that management would allow me to stay on and photograph the evening show. As I began to leave the back stage area, a crew member for The Script, told me to hang on and thanks to him, I was allowed to shoot the first three songs for the evening show with The Script. I had shot other shows locally, of other bands, but this was different. This was a band that was international. This was a band that I just knew would be something larger than this moment.
As I positioned myself in the pit area, I knew I only had the first three songs to shoot so I hunkered down in my best angle to capture the moment when it began, when the band takes the stage and when the crowd erupts. The stage was darkened to complete blackness as the music began. As the intro to “You Won’t Feel A Thing” began all you heard was guitar, then some percussion was added, and then bass and back ground vocals were added. The upbeat tempo kept speeding up like a race nearing the finish line when all of a sudden it kicked into overdrive and spotlight bursts open and Danny bursts onto the stage as he exploded into the song. It was at this very moment that my life changed. To this day, there has been no other intro music that has ever given me that rush of adrenaline. To this day, every time I hear this song, it brings me back to that very moment in time and that high I felt. I can clearly say, that was the very moment I fell in love with band photography, and from that moment since, I have thrown my heart and soul into it like no other passion I have ever experienced.
Since that the initial day, I have happily sat back and watched this trio of Irish musicians grow their fan base, their catalog of albums, and expand their musical creativity to shine like the stars I knew they were. With four albums now under their belt and numerous tours, working along side some of today’s biggest stars, it was apparent that others also saw their talent and knew they were in the presence of great musicians. A pinnacle of their career had to be in 2009 when they opened for Sir Paul McCartney at New York’s Citi Field. I can only image how they felt having that opportunity to speak with Sir Paul about music, discuss their collective journeys, and garner advice from a legendary star. If that wasn’t enough, it was shortly after that that they had the chance to open for U2 in their hometown of Dublin as well. Since my initial show, it seemed as though The Script had continued to tour non-stop. Danny participated in the UK’s version of The Voice, and like a snowball rolling down hill, they never slowed down throughout the entire time. Keeping an eye on tour dates for areas in and around the surrounding states and New York, I just kept missing them. Whether my schedule conflicted, I couldn’t secure credentials, or they were not available to our area, I patiently waited knowing one day they would come back, or I would be able to travel to one of their shows. It was a happy day when I found out that they would be coming to the Main Street Armory in Rochester. It would be full circle for me to once again enjoy the show with the band that helped me fall in love with band photography.
Opening the evening was local musician Amanda Peers. Amanda’s set began the evening by rocking out the crowd with her strong soulful sound. A native to Rochester, Amanda was seen as part of Gwen Stephanie’s team on the seventh season of The Voice. Working with artists such as The Spin Doctors and Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Amanda’s melodic sound was the perfect preface to begin the evening and get this eager audience primed for the following acts.
Next up was Oh Honey. Oh Honey, named specifically after an episode on How I Met Your Mother, burst onto the scene in 2013, and since have been opening for artists such as The Fray, James Blunt, and American Authors. Their unique indie rock sound draws you in and hooks and before you know it. Their single “Be Okay” has been covered by the Glee cast, and has been featured in the ABC show Selfie, a Chili’s commercial, and commercial for The Hundred Foot Journey. Their first studio album is eagerly awaited by fans for release in spring of 2015. Their addictive sound and energetic performance is a certain indicator that they have a special quality and we will be seeing more of them in the near future.
The next act was one I had been waiting to shoot for a long time to mark off my bucket list. Discovering him through digital radio, Mat Kearney’s music was definitely part of my every day playlist. When Mat Kearney took the stage it was a wonderful surprise to learn that Mat’s family is originally from Rochester (Irondequoit). His grandfather and father, had quite the interesting and sordid past. It was fun to learn the details of what seemed to be a made for tv journey, was in actuality, his real life story. The story and journey begins with Mat’s grandfather running a gambling ring out of a fake cigar shop until being put out business by the mob, to his father following Pink Floyd through Europe, to living in Hawaii where he met Mat’s mother as they worked together as a ship hand and mermaid, to becoming a law abiding citizen and lawyer raising a family. Joking around in an interview once, Mat once said “you can’t make this stuff up”. It’s these first hand experiences that Mat has lived through that have helped propel his musical writing style. His heartfelt songs come from life, from feelings, and it’s this music that caught my ear, and piqued my curiosity about this musician. Not setting out to become a musician, it wasn’t long after arriving in Nashville that he just knew this was where he needed to stay and what he needed to do with his life. Now eight years and five albums later, Mat Kearney has established himself in the music business as a top notch songwriter and performer. Touring with greats such as John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Train, Owl City, and Brad Paisley, Mat has found his calling,. In 2007 VH1 labeled him as one of their “You Oughta Know” artists, and this I wholeheartedly agree with this designation. He definitely is someone I would suggest you listen to, as his quiet laidback style of music, has longevity and he will be around forever.
As the crowd eagerly awaited The Script to take the stage, I fretted, would it not live up to my memory of them? Had I taken a moment and placed it in a category that cannot be usurped? As they began their set with “Paint The Town Green” from their new album No Sound Without Silence, their entrance was grand!!! The one thing I love about these guys, is their lighting is top notch. As a photographer, it makes for the best photos having the subjects backlit. I also love their stage setup. With Danny O’Donoghue on lead vocals, keyboard, and guitar, he’s right front and center. Well at least while he’s standing still that is. He’s one of those musicians that truly plays to his audience. He has no problem getting out in the crowd with his audience several times throughout his shows and he’s very energetic. With Mark Sheehan on lead guitar and vocals, he plays both sides of the stage, and I have to say that man can shredd! One of my favorite things about their stage setup is where Glen Power who plays drums and backing vocals is situated. His drum kit is set side stage with the front facing inward so that the audience, and photographers, have a great vantage of him while he plays. Also touring again with the lads is Benjamin Sergeant who plays bass guitar and backing vocals. Was glad to see him there this time again, and new this time around was Rodney Alejandro on keyboards. These two accompanying musicians, although set back, are still accessible visually for everyone to see. Excellent placement guys. As the years passed by, and as I cover more shows throughout the state, I noticed that this was not the norm for both placement and lighting. So when I come across a band that has these features, I’m very thankful for making my job easier. Now add in that these guys can really write, sing, and perform, it makes for one hell of a show. Playing both new songs such as “Superheroes”, “The Energy Never Dies”, and “No Good In Goodbye”, and favorites such as “Breakeven”, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”, and “For The First Time”, the show flew by as the audience fed off of them, and they the audience. As they left the stage, I thought to myself, they lived up to the hype in my head. Then it happened…the stage was dark, the guitar began, the percussion was added, and then bass and back ground vocals began as Danny once again began and the lights went up. I was there again. I was standing side stage watching where my love began, with the song that began it. They did it. They surpassed my memories and made new ones, as the band that began it all for me. Thanks Danny, Mark, Glen, Benjamin, and Rodney for beginning my journey down this road of music journalism. It’s been the greatest journey, and the road lays in front of me for so many more adventures. Hope to see you again along the way.