Performing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on November 10th, JAWNY walked onto the stage with a cheeky smile as Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” blasted. The song was one of the many mid-2000’s hits that the artist played before his set — all of which the crowd sang along to in unison.
As Swift’s song ended and JAWNY’s time began, he played the opening notes of “Take it Back” before abruptly stopping. A crew member had gotten his attention because an audience member felt unwell and needed a medic. The entire room instantly tensed up — just days before the show, the tragic events at the Astroworld festival had transpired, leaving the concert world in a state of shock and grief. Unlike artists at Astroworld, JAWNY instantly quieted the crowd, made sure the audience member was getting help, and even gave her one of his water bottles.
The crowd cheered as the artist threw a bit of shade,
“This is what we do when someone isn’t feeling good…we stop…the…show” he emphasized.
Despite being visibly shaken up after the incident and having rolled his ankle at the Oakland stop of the tour, the artist put on a stellar performance filled with energy.
JAWNY interspersed humorous stories in between performing hits such as “Honeypie”, “4Tounce”, and “For Abby”. Known for his witty storytelling, the artist shared that he constantly runs over his set time because he rambles on for too long, and sassily remarked,
“I always go over time and get in trouble with the venue…so I’ll shut the fuck up and play.”
Ironically, the artist ended up performing a multi-song encore for the crowd, though we trust that he kept his word and didn’t go over time.
JAWNY released his latest project, The Story of Hugo, in July of this year. Listen to the project here.
Nashville came out on November 11th to Cannery Ballroom to see Olivia O’Brien, who last played at Cannery just before lockdown began in 2020.
O’Brien started off The Olivia O’Brien Show by walking out and informing us that she was the host, she was the musical guest, and she was doing everything, which had the audience giggling and shouting her name back to her. Then she began, and opened her set with “We’re All Gonna Die.” Someone threw a white cowboy hat onstage, which O’Brien promptly picked up and placed on her head, resulting in an even louder round of applause.
O’Brien continued to play favorites off the first half of her new album Episodes: Season 1 including “Sociopath,” while also treating everyone to songs off of her first album such as “Just Friends.” Throughout the entire show, the audience could be heard singing the lyrics back to her.
As the beginning notes of “The 1” rang out, the crowd at Baby’s All Right eagerly whipped out their phones to record María Isabel’s entrance. The New York City native couldn’t contain her excitement at selling out two hometown shows.
“You guys have no idea how happy I am to be here, I love you all so much,” she gushed.
The crowd laughed and began shouting how much they loved Isabel, leading to a back and forth exchange of “I love you” between Isabel and the crowd that lasted about 30 seconds. Isabel carried on with her set, performing “Stuck in the Sky”, “Where Does the Love Go?”, and “De Na’” amongst other fan favorites.
Easily the highlight of the night, Isabel took a break from her discography and excitedly led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to her brother JJ, who turned 21 that night.
Crowdsurfer: Tell us how you got into shooting shows, how long you’ve been doing it and why you started.
Dusty Kessler: I’ve been shooting music since 2010 when my best friend was starting to perform as a local DJ. I would help him book shows by sending emails to promoters then bring my cameras with me to the shows, maybe there would be 25-50 people there. I started venturing out on my own and hitting up local promoters and other friends in the music scene and was just shooting for free for a while. Eventually that developed into some good business relationships that I still have today with some artists. I guess I started just because I loved live action and music. I never knew it could be a potential career path starting out but i’m thankful to still be shooting.
CS: What are some of your favorite shots you’ve taken over the years and why?
DK: One of my first favorite shots in memory was with G-Eazy, who I still collaborate with frequently. We shot it in Kansas City, MO, while I was in college. He was crowd surfing and I had a strobe in the back of the venue for extra light that I popped off while the confetti blast happened. I’ll never forget that one.
Recently I’ve been working with Miguel and a few months ago we shot at a festival in California. The shot of him with pryro going off in the background ended up being used on his tour merch so that was an amazing moment. To know there are people on the other side of the world wearing clothes with my image on it is amazing.
CS: What do you think is the hardest part about live concert and portrait photography?
DK: The hardest part for me is also the most fun part which is conveying to the viewer what it was like to be there in person and show the human aspect of the artist. When I’m working with an artist 1 on 1 it’s always a challenge that I break down the barrier between the camera and the subject.
CS: Your aesthetic includes a lot of film photography. Do you prefer film over digital? How has your style evolved over time to your signature style that you use now?
DK: I love film and digital. Film is the best medium to be creative and challenge yourself to slow down and frame up a shot. Yes I have shot film a few times during live concerts but it’s more often that I’ll shoot digital for the performance and any backstage or BTS stuff I’ll shoot a mix of film and digital. Sometimes with such quick turn around times I have to only shoot digital to deliver fast. I think my style has always been about being honest and not staging my shots.
CS: Who are some of the people you’ve gotten to photograph, and who is your dream artist to get to photograph one day?
DK: It’s a very extensive list. Recently I’ve still been shooting with G-Eazy and Miguel. Others include Jamie XX, Hitboy, Ava Max, 5 Seconds Of Summer, 070 Shake, Dan and Shay, Maroon 5 and many more. I’ve shot a lot of artists but I think a dream artist who I’d really like to be on tour with is someone who’s not even known yet to the public. I really like working with artists who are small and develop their brand image and creative. But a Billie tour would be fire too (shout out Matty Vogel)
CS: What do you love about shooting shows and the whole touring experience?
DK: I just love tour and meeting new people all around the world who care about music and come together for that reason. There’s nothing like a live sold out show or festival or tour.
CS: What would your advice be to young photographers just starting out?
DK: Find new artists and be in A&R. Reach out to people and offer your services for free at first and build with them creatively. The rest will come with time and just keep shooting every day no matter what type of camera you have or subject you shoot.
CS: Love that. What’s next for you, and what are your plans for this year?
DK: Right now is a scary time for those in my industry. With the touring and music industry on hold we have to stay creative and get through this together. Hopefully in the next 6 months things get back to normal.
CS: Definitely. Anything else you want to add?
DK: I love hearing from new people. Send me a message on IG @dkessler.
Alexander 23 opened up for Chelsea Cutler on March 3, 2020. We were all instantly in love with the neon heart sign that he had on stage, and clearly falling in love with him as he played his newest single “I Hate You So Much,” and covering bops such as Miley’s “Party In The U.S.A.” Take a look at all the photos below! And then check out our other coverage from concert if you haven’t already: Chelsea Cutler photos and the X Lovers interview.
The New Regime played in NYC on March 5, 2020, the first of a two-night run at Brooklyn Steel. The dark, moody lighting set the tone and we were treated to a longer opening set, which I certainly wasn’t opposed to. The New Regime ended on “Heart Mind Body & Soul,” which is a song I strongly suggest you take a listen to if you’ve never heard it before!
PUBLIC opened up the final show on the Band of Brothers tour and certainly kicked it off with energy! Take a look at the pictures below from the show and if you haven’t already, read our interview with the band here.
Regardless of the rain pouring and the weather dropping, fans couldn’t stay away when Audrey Mika came to town. That being said, I was one of them. Luckily, a perk of writing for a magazine means you get early access to the show and get to avoid catching a cold. Walking into Mercury Lounge, you immediately pass the long and dark bar area until you reach the light at the end of the tunnel. In this case, it was a small, but beautiful stage, lit up with rays of purple, pink, and a hint of blue, calling to be performed on. Artists like The Strokes, The Killers, Jeff Buckley, and more have made a name for themselves all with their legendary performances there and tonight, Audrey Mika added her name to the roster.
Mika opened with her single, ‘‘Fake Heartbreak’’ in which every person in the room sang word for word. With each transition to each song, Mika performed outstandingly, proving her vocal range to be impressively wide all while showing off her dancing ability (which never missed a beat). Maybe it was the pajama-like pink heart pants she wore or the space-bun hairdo, but Mika marked herself as one of the sweetest performers I’ve ever seen. She even made a point to bring up a fellow Paperclip Club (her fan-base name) member, Kahliya, onstage and credit her for being a superfan and for her support from the beginning. In all my 22 years of live shows, I’ve never seen someone bring a fan onstage without having them be danced on or sang to, but only to thank them. How sweet is that!
Sonically, the show sounded even better in person than in headphones. With the help of her band mates, Cam Lee on drums and Joe Avio on guitars, Mika’s performances were fun and light, and you just wanted to dance all night long. She closed the show with, ‘‘Y U Gotta Be Like That’’, an obvious crowd favorite, but one of the most memorable parts of the show for me was her unreleased track, ‘‘Just Friends’’ in which she engaged with a call and response chorus section between her and the audience. The track had never even been heard and the audience responded as if they’d heard it all their life.
I wanted to wrap up with my favorite song of the night, ‘‘Following’ ’ that was released on her 2019 Album, Level Up. This song made me feel everything at once. With just an acoustic guitar and no-band at this point, she sang her heart out while the audience lit her up with their mobile flashlights as the entire stage appeared dark. While the majority of the show was entertaining and lively, it’s the precious moments like this one that took the cake for me. It was raw and pure which depicted the emotions in the song perfectly.
All in all, there is a reason that this show and many others were sold out. Mercury Lounge was lucky enough to have Mika play her music and I cannot wait until her next live show!
American Authors wrapped up their co-headlining tour with Magic Giant at Webster Hall on February 27, 2020. After an intense Plinko game, it was decided that they would be second to perform, though fans didn’t have to wait long because the sets between both bands were mixed. AA kept the energy high and had the whole crowd dancing and singing the whole time! Check out the gallery for some images from the night.