Friday, March 9, 2012

Guest Post: Kate's Favorite Concert Photos

Today's guest post comes from our friend Kate Ehle. Kate is a photographer, graphic designer, artist (seriously she just had her first show in January), and music lover, among many other things. She has a blog called cake and ale where you can check out a lot more of her stuff. And, she tells us, once she moves to her new place, shortly, that has much better internet connection she is going to ramp up her posting on there.  Now, Kate, being a music lover, is also an avid concert goer and she gets to photograph a good deal of the ones she attends. So we asked Kate to do a guest post, and she decided she wanted to share some of her favorite concert photos with all of us. This rules, we don't do a lot of stuff with original photography so this is amazing. So without further adieu, here's Kate:

hi all!

i'm really excited to contribute to this awesome blog written by three of my favorite people. when they asked me to write something, i was going to write about my ten favorite movies, and that will come someday, but for now i thought my first post should be about something really special to me.

i spent two glorious years shooting concerts in new york city and it was by far the best thing i've ever done. for someone who loves to take pictures and who spends all of their disposable income on concert tickets, it really was a dream come true and i will never forget any of it. i mainly shot for and wnyc's culture hub, but also had my work published by gothamist, the village voice and other places. it was quite a ride.

and so without further adieu, here are my top 15 favorite concert shots in alpha order. 

the antlers @ bowery ballroom, 12.15.09
this is one of my favorite shows of all time. this was the antlers homecoming party after a year of intense touring behind their breakout album hospice. the sold-out crowd was so into it and so was the band. their performance was a beautiful thank you to their fans. i'm sure that i speak for everyone who was there when i say that it felt like they were playing just for me. you can download the show here:

art brut @ bowery ballroom, 1.15.09

if you've never been to an art brut show - and i hadn't before this night - you should make it a priority if they ever come to your town. wow. this is probably the most fun i've ever had at a show. the fun started before they even took the stage, with the entire crowd chanting "ART BRUT! TOP OF THE POPS!" over and over at the top of their lungs. this was a sweaty scream fest. and with my prime front row real estate, i couldn't clean their sweat off of my lenses fast enough. and it just got better and better. unbelievable. 

atlas sound @ the bell house, 2.3.10

atlas sound, aka bradford cox, the lead singer of deerhunter, makes some gorgeous music. on this night it was just bradford, his guitar and some looping pedals. and even with such a stripped-down setup, he made magic for a completely captivated audience. most of my pictures from this show look the same - i couldn't move around because the house was so tightly packed and he never really got off of his stool - but this one came out great. the smoke, the all just came together. you can download the recording here:

deerhoof @ le poisson rouge, 9.15.09

this was the first show i ever shot for nyctaper and i was beyond nervous. it's one thing to take pictures for yourself, it is something else entirely to take photos for a blog that's rated one of pc magazine's top 50. so i downed a couple of tequila shots and took my place in front of the stage. i couldn't have been blessed with a better band for my first pressure situation. deerhoof is a circus for the eyes and ears. they made my job so easy. you can download the recording here:

doveman @ the mercury lounge, 1.12.10

thomas bartlett, aka doveman, is one of my favorite musicians. he's probably best known for collaborating with just about anybody who's anybody (most notably sam amidon and nico muhly, but also beth orton, norah jones, the national, glen hansard, antony and the johnsons and rufus wainwright, among tons of others). he now has a very famous recurring series of salon evenings at le poisson rouge called "the burgundy stain sessions" where he invites amazing musicians to perform alongside him. this night was a precursor to that - i think the first of its kind. and it was incredible to see in the tiny mercury lounge. i love this picture. as much as i love to catch musicians doing their rock star thing, i think i almost love capturing the quiet moments more. this is when thomas was sitting at his piano just listening to puss n' boots (norah jones, catherine popper and sasha dobson) harmonize away. i always love to be reminded that famous musicians are fans, too. 

final fantasy @ webster hall, 12.1.09
owen pallett has since dropped the final fantasy monicker due to a lawsuit, but that was what he was performing as when i saw him open up for the mountain goats. like doveman, he's also collaborated with everyone, but is probably most famous for his work with arcade fire and in 2006 he won the much-coveted polaris music prize. he's an incredible violinist and lyricist and puts on a captivating performance. i was really lucky with the timing of this show, it was one of the last before he banned any and all photography at his shows. this picture is just one of those great moments where the lighting and composition really worked. the blue lights make him seem otherworldly. and, really, he kind of is. you can download the recording here:

jay-z @ obama's staff inaugural ball, 1.20.09
i often say that i'm the queen of being at the right place at the right time. but this amazing adventure happened because i have all the right friends. my good friend was obama's travel coordinator for his presidential campaign and when i went to d.c. for the inauguration, i got to go to all sorts of events that i had absolutely no business being at. and one of those events was president obama's staff ball. it was a great party and it was NUTS. never mind that i got to shake hands with the obamas and the bidens, but arcade fire and jay-z played! thank god i had my camera. this may be my favorite picture that i've ever taken. what a great moment.

the national @ the bell house, 3.11.10

this was one of the last shows i shot before i moved from brooklyn to the middle of nowhere, and oh man, was it special. the national played two secret shows at the bell house in gowanus, brooklyn (my all-time favorite nyc venue) right before their latest album high violet dropped. by some miracle a friend and i scored tickets and we got there early enough for front row spots. i really can't describe how much i love this band and to see them play a tiny space when they now are able to sell out arenas was a real treat. the great thing about shooting at the bell house is that the stage isn't high and there's nothing separating you from the musicians, so you're really able to get in there for the shot. this is my favorite from this night, though not my favorite moment. that came at the end of the show when matt berninger screamed the chorus to mr. november in our faces. he was too close to get a picture. :)

rhett miller @ the bell house, 1.27.10
this night was one of the craziest. the bell house held a huge benefit concert for haiti and everyone from jimmy fallon to lauren ambrose to the wrens performed. it was crazy. and because friends of mine opened the show, we got to hang out backstage all night. i'm kind of obsessed with rhett miller, so it was a special thrill to walk into the green room and catch an impromptu rehearsal for his set with nicole atkins and a.c. newman. amazing. i shot everything from on the stage that night and i caught him just as he walked off stage and was taking off his guitar. we had a long chat as i was leaving and he was incredibly nice and generous with his time.

sonic youth @ hiro ballroom, 5.19.10
this was another insane night. i'm still pinching myself over it, in fact. i was hired to shoot the anthology film archives 40th anniversary show, honoring kenneth anger. who is kenneth anger you ask? oh, he's just THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH OF SATAN. SERIOUSLY. and while that detail is crazy, he's also a filmmaker and that is why he was being honored. again, this was a major star-studded affair - the virgins, sonic youth and lou reed all played (among others). and it was the most fun. i stood on a staircase in the back of the room next to the killers - who are all lovely human beings, by the way - and took pictures of my heroes all night. here's my favorite of kim gordon who later asked me where the bathroom was. 

st. vincent @ music hall of williamsburg, 1.23.10
this show was another haiti benefit and the bill was every bit if not more amazing than the one at the bell house before it. britt daniel of spoon, bon iver, zach galifianakis, megafaun, my brightest diamond, well, everyone played. and it was fantastic. but the highlight for me was annie clark, aka st. vincent, who played a short set of covers and completely wowed the crowd with her playing. that woman knows how to handle a guitar. while this photo isn't the greatest and isn't really in focus, i just love how it captures her. she's beautiful and introspective and humble and looks as though she has a secret. i want to be her friend. 

sufjan stevens @ music hall of williamsburg, 10.7.09
I LOVE SUFJAN STEVENS. simple as that. he can do no wrong as far as i'm concerned. he played two nights at mhow and i was lucky to snag tickets to both shows. and both nights were so incredibly gorgeous, i still don't have words to describe them. so this picture will have to suffice.

wilco @ dutchess stadium, 7.18.09

wilco is my favorite band and i've shot them a bunch of times. i have to say, it was PAINFUL to go through all of my photos from these shows and choose only one. it was almost as painful to only choose two. but there you have it. if you've seen a wilco show, you know why they are my favorite band. and if you haven't, well, what's wrong with you??? seriously, they are not to be missed. just an incredible and tight band. i'm going to stop talking about my love of wilco now because if i don't, i'll never be invited back. anyway, the portrait of jeff tweedy is one of my most prized possessions and every time i look at it i can't help but wonder what he's thinking. i so desperately want to know what he's thinking! and the photo of glenn kotche is a favorite not only because i have a huge crush on him, but also because it's rare to get good shots of the drummer. they are always set far back and are rarely lit well. but wilco puts glenn on a pedestal (literally) and so shooting him is easy. i had seen them play in coney island and about week earlier and was devastated when glenn decided that the moment to stand up on his stool before "i'm the man who loves you" was exactly the same time as i decided to switch lenses. so on this night, i was prepared. and boy did he deliver.

wildbirds & peacedrums @ le poisson rouge, 9.15.09
wildbirds & peacedrums are a husband and wife duo from sweden who opened for deerhoof. i said this on my own blog, but with a name like theirs, i will be honest and say i was expecting flutes and dulcimers. instead i got a full on percussion and vocal assault. seriously loud and intense stuff. i think this picture captures the intensity.

thanks so much for reading! and thanks to kevin, matt and pat for having me!


*all photos copyright katherine l. ehle and may not be used without permission.

-kate ehle
cake & ale
design | photography | art


  1. I wish you were still here shooting these kinds of amazing shots, Kate. Great post.

  2. thanks so much, dan!!! there aren't words to describe how much i miss it. do you have anyone lined up for cmj? i would love to shoot your showcase if you'll have me!!!