Category Archives: Music

G(irl)photographer: 5 Shoots / 5 days

I open my inbox to an intriguing message. 

And that’s how it started. Well twist my arm, then… I thought. My team has a special way of being a little ridiculous on the story pitches, but I was sold. What I didn’t realize? It would also entail an intricate schedule of work, travel, shooting, editing, maybe a little sleep (and I mean little, less than little) and getting up and doing it all over again, day after day. I was exhausted just thinking about it.

👆 actually me after the week…

So it was an ambitious five-day quest to shoot five different concerts, test out some video and photo gear, and write a story about it. Cool. What I wanted to cover was almost entirely up to me. First up, Monday evening would be a local Austin band at a favorite local venue (Come And Take It Live), no less. Following that, my friend Danny (also known as New York rocker Des Rocs) just so happened to be touring through Texas for three consecutive days with The Glorious Sons. A quick text, fingers crossed, and he graciously agreed to let me follow him around with a camera. Four out of my five nights booked, I had just Friday to fill. I looked around and realized I’d been sent a media invite for an intriguing up-and-coming indie band called Brother Moses. Email sent, invite accepted, interview, shoot and review arranged; the week was booked. Mission Accomplished.

Days running up to my 5S/5D (that’s “5 Shoots / 5 Days”), I packed, planned, wrote and reviewed shot lists, met with my assistant photog, scheduled interviews, social and BTS content and tried to rest and prepare myself. One of the biggest challenges of shooting concerts is the extreme physicality of it all. You don’t realize how taxing it is to lug around all that gear for hours on end, and then contort and ‘gimbal’ yourself to manage the perfect shot. Over and over. Five days of that without a break would be interesting. I doubled down on my Pilates the week prior.

Early in the week I headed up to Precision Camera to pick up my gear from the rentals department: a gorgeous new Sony Alpha a9 camera body, an extra-beautiful G-Series f2.8 28-70mm lens (can you tell I have a thing for Sony gear?), a DJI Ronin-S gimbal and all the fixin’s. Because Precision never leaves you high and dry, they literally handed me everything plus the kitchen sink, a UV filter, camera bags, straps, clips, cords and an extra battery grip.

Now I have quite a storied past with camera rentals and I’m known to grab a few extra items when the shoot merits. I’ve had some downright terrible experience with rental gear that is shipped, or ordered online and picked up, only to discover that it’s not what you were hoping for (won’t name names). What I really love about Precision rentals is that they’re A) reliable, super reasonable, and they literally make sure you’ve got more than you need, but also; B) it’s really easy to just cruise up to Anderson Lane and grab what you need, rather than dealing with shipping costs, delivery times and all that junk. Plus they greet you with a smile and a hug. Or maybe it’s secretly an; “Oh, HER again? What crazy sh*t is she asking for this time??”

Read: Why would you rent online when all of this is available right in your very own city?? Also, they’re really very nice and just laugh when I propose the crazy sh*t. Anyways, I grabbed my gear early in the week, thanked my lucky stars that PCV had my back, and headed to Monday’s shoot, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  I was totally ‘ballin with all that gear. I won’t bore you with the play-by-play on every single shoot, so here’s a highlight reel.

Monday: Gimble video fun at my local Austin haunt, Come And Take It Live. My priority act had to cancel due to the Death Flu going around (OK with me, keep your germs away!), so I had to make do with shooting less familiar bands. You win some, you lose some. 

Tuesday: Already sore and tired. Met up with Des Rocs and team, Warehouse Live Houston. Great crowd, lovely venue, high-energy set and a nice crew. Started getting creative with the gimbal, proceeded to wow, awe and inspire said crew with my gimbaling prowess (is that even a word?). I don’t know. It was fun. My arms were toast after two days of gimbaling. And yes, it’s now a word. 

Wednesday: Could barely lift my arms. Bruises appearing in weird places from unknown sources. Another favorite venue: Mohawk Austin, where I learned the true value of this a9 facial recognition technology in a packed crowd with no photo pit during both Des Rocs and The Glorious Sons’ sets. I nailed some crazy shots in ridiculously low light while getting jostled around, elbowed in the head and my toes stomped on somewhere in the rowdy crowd. Thanks to that a9 and my hefty f2.8 70-200mm telephoto lens, which a crew member later dubbed “The Bazooka,” I got some amazing content. Also, Bazooka? That’s gonna stick.

Thursday: Overslept my alarm. More bruises, but at least I know where they came from. Canton Hall Dallas with the Des Rocs crew once again. A new venue for me, but surprisingly nice and with excellent lighting. Due to the (larger) size of the venue, I managed some pretty awesome shots while hopping between a tightly-packed backstage area, the far-off upper back balcony, and a spacious, sizeable photo pit. It’s times like this that I am grateful for two different camera bodies set up and ready to go – allowing me to alternate seamlessly between my Sony a7iii with the 28-70mm lens and the a9 with aforementioned Bazooka, taking my photographic flexibility to new heights. If you’ve never tried shooting with two camera bodies, I highly recommend it (go visit Precision Camera rentals and they’ll help you with that). Bonus? Only once did I *almost* faceplant on stage. Unfortunately, Precision Camera cannot help me on the klutz factor. 

(Not pictured: Bazooka.) And yes, I found a ‘rat’ in the green room.

Friday: My fifth and final evening, spent at Stubbs Austin with indie rock band Brother Moses. Somehow I catch a second wind, super stoked to meet this last band. We started our evening with a video interview backstage, and followed with a classic show shoot-and-review setup. This time, I was thankful for my wide angle (f2.8 16-35mm G-series) lens, helping me to grab a few close-to-the-stage shots in low light. Anyone who’s ever shot at Stubbs indoors knows just how challenging it is. Only great gear, too-high ISO and creativity can get you through it.

What a beautiful week. While I did sacrifice sleep for adventure, it was worth it. I’d trade a week of no sleep, constant shooting, way too many bruises/sore feet/pulled muscles, and never having a second to catch up on much of anything for this thing called ‘real life’ in a heartbeat. So much fun. From testing out my abilities with new/novel camera gear, to having an opportunity to get to know the crew of one of my favorite touring bands. It was a nonstop, jam-packed week of incredible photo opportunities, a lot of travel, crazy crowds and insanely good music. I walked out of there more appreciative of these artists – and what goes into making a tour happen – than when I’d started. 

A special thank you to the Des Rocs crew – you are all incredible, kind, talented and passionate professionals. I appreciate you generously welcoming me into your space. You kept it fun, but you also taught me a lot about what it means to be a hard-working travelling professional. I’ve never met a more dedicated and talented crew. And if you are reading this and have never listened to Des Rocs before, stop immediately and GO LISTEN.  I mean it. If we cross paths in the future and you haven’t listened to his music yet, I will hereby wrestle you to the floor, throw a pair of headphones on you and press play. It’s your choice.

A final thank you must go to Precision Camera for the gear. I do hope you stop over there when you next need some extra items. And do try out running with a second camera body – it will save you a lot of time and lens changes. Tell ‘em Kail sent you… because that’ll make for an interesting conversation.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go catch up on some sleep. Stay tuned next week for my second blog and feature on the video/photo content I captured during my 5S/5D.

Brother Moses in Austin: Show Review + interview

Story: Kail Rose, Photography: Christopher De La Rosa & K Rose

On Friday we had the privilege of catching NYC indie rock band Brother Moses live at Stubbs Austin, the first stop on their headlining tour for the month of February. 

We show up early in the evening, cruising through the still-empty Stubbs downstairs venue. Out back, there’s a crew playing football in the vast expanse of the Stubbs amphitheater yard, which I’m used to seeing jam-packed full of people. I quickly realize it’s the band themselves and their opener Feeves. They see us and head straight over to introduce themselves; James, John-Lewis, Moses and Corey, who comes with his own tagline: “the Best Drummer in the World.” 

We take over the spacious back garden’s notorious Airstream trailer for a quick informal video interview. We chat about humble beginnings, dance-fueled performances and how they are addressing real-world experiences with music that is fun and lighthearted. I later realize it’s the type of music that brings us together in a celebration of being humble, human, flawed and flawless. 

We skip upstairs to grab a quick bite of legendary Stubbs Barbecue before Feeves warms up the crowd with a fresh indie set. The evening crowd fills in quickly. It’s a predominantly younger group; college kids and those in their later 20s. A few hip couples in denim, slouchy beanies and vintage boots, sipping a craft beer. We spot many a girl gang, locked elbows, giggling and ready to dance. 

As Brother Moses takes the stage, the hype is very real. The venue and the crowd are literally buzzing. These people are here to boogie. As they kick off the set, it’s apparent that there will be no rockstar power poses, no slamming back a beer with a side of ego; no, none of that. Their humble and relatable demeanor makes this an inclusive performance. We’re not just here to see this band, but to become a part of their performance. With palpable energy, we unwittingly find ourselves committed – committed to celebrating our quirks and crazies, and to dance like nobody’s watching. 

After more than one occasion of a show-stopping technical issue, frontman James exclaims; “this is just like that time you have that nightmare where you go on stage and you’re in your underwear and all your stuff starts breaking… except this is real life.” Turning misfortune into humor, it’s an opportunity to connect with the audience, make them part of the show. I almost wonder if this was rehearsed. But the audience is game; hooting & hollering when finally Feeves brings us a backup guitar and saves the show. 

They progress through old hits and new material, somehow amplifying the energy as they go. Two blonde college girls slam back their White Claws, sling their tiny purses over their shoulder and barrel through the crowd in an impressively dainty fashion for What Does It Take. Blonde locks are flying as they dance and spin each other. The crowd parts to circle around this informal dance-off. Guitarists John-Lewis and Moses jump down into the crowd, in between twirling girls, for the song finale. Carefree is the word of the night.

And somehow Brother Moses manages a very full sound – a set of surprisingly intricate, groovy, quirky songs. John-Lewis and James trade off on the keyboard and guitar. With signature floppy hair and wireframe glasses doing nothing to conceal a cheeky sparkle of confidence (likely from his most excellent dance moves, if I must be honest…), James leads the vocals with quirk, kitsch and utter coolness. I see why this crowd had arrived with soaring expectations and impressive energy. And despite all expectations, this is a band that sounds even better live than recorded. 

I highly recommend you catch their live show, and grab their music here. Check out their remaining February tour stops and keep an eye out on March 6 to catch the release of Desperation Pop.

News: The Struts Add Additional “MAKE IT BIG” Tour Dates to 2020 Tour Schedule

The Struts have formally announced the addition of quite a few more 2020 tour dates on what is now dubbed the “Make It BIG Tour 2020” …which we suppose is all too appropriate. The four British rockers already have an ambitious 2020 tour schedule with dates all over the world, including Innings Festival, Sandjam, Boston Calling , Bonnaroo, Bunbury, Firefly and Mad Cool in Spain. With the Make It BIG tour date additions, they’re adding in shows in Dallas, Chicago, Florida and Richmond VA (and more), see the full schedule below. They’ll be touring with The Glorious Sons, The Blue Stones, The Regrettes and JJ Wild supporting.

Photo credit: Kail Rose. Shot in Dallas, TX at House of Blues May 8, 2019.

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)


Tickets go on sale Friday 2/14 at 10am local time.

All 2020 Tour Dates:

Fri, FEB 28 – SOMA (Tour de California Presented by Harley-Davidson), San Diego, CA

Sat, FEB 29 – House of Blues (Tour de California Presented by Harley-Davidson), Anaheim, CA

Sun, MAR 1- Innings Festival, Tempe, AZ

Tue, MAR 3 – The Warfield (Tour de California Presented by Harley-Davidson), San Francisco, CA

Wed, MAR 4 – Catalyst (Tour de California Presented by Harley-Davidson), Santa Cruz, CA

Tue, APR 14 – Umeda CLub Quattro, Osaka, Japan

Wed, APR 15 – Ebisu Liquidroom, Tokyo, Japan

Thu, APR 16 – Ebisu Liquidroom, Tokyo, Japan

Fri, APR 24 – SandJam Fest, Panama City Beach, FL

Fri, MAY 22 – Boston Calling, Boston, MA

Sun, MAY 24 – Hi Fi, Dallas, TX

Fri, MAY 29 – Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL

Sun, MAY 31 – Harrah’s Council Bluffs – Stir Concert Cove, Council Bluffs, IA

Tue, JUN 2 – The District, Sioux Falls, SD

Fri, JUN 5 – Saint Louis Music Park, Maryland Heights, MO

Sat, JUN 6 – Bunbury Music Festival, Cincinnati, OH

Tue, JUN 9 – Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Wed, JUN 10 – The Beacham Theatre, Orlando, FL

Fri, JUN 12 – Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, FL

Sat, JUN 13 – The Masquerade – Heaven, Atlanta, GA

Sun, JUN 14 – Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN

Tue, JUN 16 – The National, Richmond, VA

Thu, JUN 18 – The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY

Fri, JUN 19 – The Stone Pony Summer Stage, Asbury Park, NJ

Sat, JUN 20 – Firefly Music Festival (June 18-21), Dover, DE

Mon, JUN 22 – Bronson Centre Theatre, Ottawa, Canada

Tue, JUN 23 – London Music Hall, London, Canada

Thu, JUN 25 – 2020 Party in the Park Rochester, Rochester, NY

Sat, JUN 27 – The Clyde Theatre, Fort Wayne, IN

Sat, JUL 11 – Mad Cool Festival, Madrid, Spain

Sun, JUL 12 – Rock In Roma, Rome, Italy

Tue, JUL 14 – Geox Live Arena, Padova, Italy

Wed, JUL 15 – Arena Campo Marte, Brescia, Italy

Sat, JUL 18 – Lollapalooza Paris, Paris, France

Fri, JUL 31 – Osheaga, Montréal, Canada

News: DEFTONES Announce Summer Tour with Gojira and Poppy

DEFTONES have just announced their first summer tour in three years… having performed largely at select music festivals or their own festival “Dia De Los DEFTONES” in recent years. But this summer they’ll hit the road with Gojira and Poppy for a 30-city tour kicking off July 27th.

“We’re super excited to have Gojira spending the summer with us, and Poppy will be a really fun addition as well,” frontman Chino Moreno said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to seeing everyone this summer. It’s been a minute.”

Deftones perform at Exit 111 music festival in Manchester, TN on October 13, 2019. Photo credit: Kail Rose / dRiFFt.

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)

Tickets go on sale Friday 2/14.

Deftones Tour Dates

July 27 – Portland, OR @ Theatre of the Clouds at Moda Center
July 28 – Seattle, WA @ WaMu Theater
July 30 – San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
August 1 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort
August 2 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Greek Theatre
August 4 – Phoenix, AZ @ Arizona Federal Theatre
August 5 – Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheater
August 7 – Bonner Springs, KS @ Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
August 8 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Eagles Ballroom
August 9 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Armory
August 11 – Chicago, IL @ Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
August 12 – Sterling Heights, MI @ Michigan Lottery Amphitheater at Freedom Hill
August 14 – Boston, MA @ Agganis Arena
August 15 – Laval, QC @ Place Bell
August 17 – Toronto, ON @ RBC Echo Beach
August 19 – New York NY @ The Rooftop at Pier 17
August 20 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony Summer Stage
August 22 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Met Philadelphia
August 23 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem
August 24 – Bridgeport, CT @ Harbor Yard Amphitheater
August 26 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Petersen Events Center
August 27 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Amphitheater at White River State Park
August 29 – Nashville, TN @ Nashville Municipal Auditorium
August 30 – Atlanta, GA @ Cadence Bank Amphitheater at Chastain Park
September 1 – San Antonio, TX @ AT&T Center
September 2 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
September 3 – Irving, TX @ The Pavilion at Toyoto Music Factory
September 5 – Denver CO @ Pepsi Center

News: Rage Against the Machine Announce Worldwide 2020 Tour

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)

Just minutes ago, Rage Against The Machine formally announced their 2020 world tour – One we’d been hoping for since word got out that they’d be reuniting to play Coachella and a few select cities. But now it’s official. Touring with Run The Jewels, they’ll hit 33 US cities (including both weekends of Coachella and Boston Calling in May) and then hit an additional eight cities in Europe. Proceeds from the first three shows (El Paso, TX, Las Cruces, NM and Glendale, AZ) will go directly to immigrant rights organizations.

Tickets go on sale Thursday 2/13 at 11am local time.

Rage Against the Machine Tour Dates

March 26 — El Paso, TX @ Don Haskins Center
March 28 — Las Cruces, NM @ Pan American Center
March 30 — Glendale, AZ @ Gila River Arena
April 10 — Indio, CA @ Coachella
April 17 — Indio, CA @ Coachella
April 21 — Oakland, CA @ Oakland Arena
April 25 — Portland, OR @ Moda Center
April 28 — Tacoma, WA @ Tacoma Dome
May 1 — Vancouver, BC @ Pacific Coliseum at the PNE
May 3 — Edmonton, AB @ Rogers Place
May 5 — Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome
May 7 — Winnipeg, MB @ Bell MTS Place
May 9 — Sioux Falls, SD @ Denny Sanford Premier Center
May 11 — Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center
May 14 — Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
May 16 — St. Louis, MO @ Enterprise Center
May 19 — Chicago, IL @ United Center
May 23 — Boston, MA @ Boston Calling
June 19 — Dover, DE @ Firefly
July 10 — East Troy, WI @ Alpine Valley Music Theatre
July 13 — Detroit, MI @ Little Caesars Arena
July 17 — Ottawa, ON @ Ottawa Bluesfest
July 18 — Festival d’Été de Québec @ Festival d’Été de Québec
July 21 — Hamilton, ON @ FirstOntario Centre
July 23 — Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena
July 27 — Buffalo, NY @ KeyBank Center
July 29 — Cleveland, OH @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
July 31 — Pittsburgh, PA @ PPG Paints Arena
August 2 — Raleigh, NC @ PNC Arena
August 4 — Washington DC @ Capital One Arena
August 7 — Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion
August 10 — New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
August 11 — New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
August 28 — Leeds, UK @ Leeds Festival
August 30 — Reading, UK @ Reading Festival
September 1 — Paris, France @ Rock En Seine Festival
September 4 — Stradbally Laois, Ireland @ Electric Picnic Festival
September 6 — Berlin, Germany @ Lollapalooza Berlin Festival
September 8 — Prague, Czech Republic @ O2 Arena
September 10 — Krakow, Poland @ Tauron Arena

Show Review: Marshall Tucker Band’s Southern Rockin’ Roundup Tour

Photography and Show Review by Geoff Clowes of Sage + Spirit Photo

After forty-five years and numerous lineup changes the Marshall Tucker Band is still doing what they love to do, hitting the road and making crowds forget the present and live, if only for ninety minutes, the ‘seventies. Such was the case when the band’s Southern Rockin’ Roundup rolled into the Charles Dodge Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida.


On this night a near capacity crowd that was old enough to have seen the band on their first visit to this very spot in 1974 at the now defunct Hollywood Sportatorium got to revel in the rocking memories of better days. Today Doug Gray, the lone member of the original band, has less hair and more miles but his brand of Southern blues rock hasn’t diminished a bit. Sure, the breaks between songs are longer and the gyrations are fewer, but this crowd came to hear their favorite songs played live again. The current lineup includes Doug Gray handling the vocal and tambourine duties backed by a lively rhythm section including BB Borden on drums and Marcus James Henderson handling the triple duty of keys, sax, and flute.


First up was 1979’s jazzed up Running Like the Wind, from the record of the same name, which is normally nine minutes but cut down to a shorter four minutes. Regardless of length this remains a fan favorite and one that is a constant member of the setlist. Next up was an interesting choice, Dog Eat Dog World, a song written by MTB guitarist Chris Hicks and released on his solo record, a record that even hardcore fans might not have on the tip of their tongue. The number is driven by heavy guitar riffs that wouldn’t be out of place at a more traditional rock show. The setlist then kicked back into more traditional numbers from the mid-seventies before going into the classic Heard It In A Love Song, a song that had the entire crowd singing along to every word as if their very lives depended on it. Following a couple deeper tracks from the early days Doug and the boys finished up with another classic, Can’t You See – another favorite that was on the lips of everyone as they filtered out into the warm night, having had their fill of good old Southern blues rock from a long lost musical era.

News: Incubus, 311 and Badflower announce Summer tour

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)

Hot off the press… Incubus, 311 and Badflower have just announced their summer tour together. Hitting cities across the US (including Austin, Dallas and Houston – Texas has nothing to complain about!!) starting late July. You stoked? We are!

Scroll down for their tour stops and grab your tickets when they go on sale Friday 2/7.

Let us know your thoughts – is this a must-see or a meh? Vote above!

The Photo Pit: Sevendust with Deepfall and Stitched Up Heart

Article by Bernard Cana / Talon Kane Photography Published Jan 3, 2020 on thephotopit.com

From The Pit To The Crowd: Sevendust with Deepfall and Stitched Up Heart – House of Blues Orlando – Lake Buena Vista FL – December 29, 2019

On November 9, 2014 before I started photographing and reviewing concerts, I attended a show at House of Blues Orlando I would never forget. One of my favorite bands, Sevendust, was performing an acoustic show of their music. Getting to hear songs I love in a stripped-down format was incredible. And seeing them in this very intimate format was something I would never forget. Skip ahead to Winter 2019 where I remember commenting on a post on the Sevendust Facebook page that I wished they’d do another acoustic show. Literally days after that, the band announced their Acoustic Xmas shows with three dates with one of them being at House of Blues Orlando, a place the band considers a second home for performances. There was no way I was going to miss this show and was blessed to be able to cover it for The Photo Pit. It was a show I will truly never forget.

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A Traverse City Travel Blog

Traverse City is an incredibly vibrant, diverse and interesting city that caters to a spectrum of visitors every year. Our photographer spent a week there; adventuring, hanging out with rockstars,  taking photos, exploring, and falling in love.

As an adventurous, can’t-sit-still outdoorsy type with a penchant for good food, great wine, a little people-watching and some live music, a late-summer visit to Traverse City proved the perfect escape. Big-box tourist stops are just fine, but they’re really not my thing. I’d be bored and stir-crazy without some grand wilderness adventures and a glass of wine to wash it down. I am entirely into finding the most underrated, “no-one in my friends circle has even heard of this place” -kind of destination. Even better if there is unique local culture, history, and geography to be found.

My week in Traverse City proved precisely that. Situated along the southern shore of Grand Traverse Bay in  Michigan region known as the Upper Peninsula, Traverse City is a vibrant small-town lakefront destination with an incredible variety of getaway options. From romantic luxury to a family escape, “Traverse City brings good things in life together to make a place where you feel truly comfortable and where vacations feel perfect. Here, you’ll find the incredible diversity and beauty across the summer, fall, winter and spring seasons. Whether you are exploring the outdoors at our Sleeping Bear Dunes, sipping our local wine, or enjoying a day at the lakeshore, each day is another chance to find yourself in a pretty great place.” My accommodations for the week were at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, just six miles northeast of Traverse City proper. From dining, spa and golf, to all-season outdoor activities around the lake, this immaculate 900-acre property regularly hosts visitors from all walks of life. My ninth-floor tower room was spacious, comfortable, bright and upscale, with a small kitchenette and a gorgeous oversize designer bathroom. The view over Traverse City and the lake were to die for. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lounge luxuriously on the bed among plush pillows with a glass of wine, just to watch the sun set.

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A hybrid business-leisure “bleisure” approach brought me to the Upper Peninsula in the first place, but it had grown into a week-long adventure. I was there to photograph two Friday evening concerts at Leelanau Sands Showroom, part of the greater Grand Traverse Resort and Spa campus. The resort and it’s sister properties -Leelanau Sands Casino and Turtle Creek Casino- are truly a hidden gem along the Great Lakes in Upper Michigan. It would be a jam-packed week in the U.P. Outdoor adventure, live music, a beautiful golf and spa resort, food and wine, unexpected discoveries, great people-watching, lakefront adventures, vineyards, history, nature and the food, did I mention the amazing food?

​I arrived Friday afternoon after testing out the super-fast direct flights from Dallas to TVC (otherwise known as Cherry Capital Airport), grabbed a rental car and headed up the infamous M-22 to the casino and showroom for my rendezvous with the GTR team and 80’s hair band legends, Skid Row. There as in-house photographer, I was lucky to be shooting both Skid Row and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery on consecutive Friday evenings. I was given a quick tour of the casino and Lodge – who knew such a hidden treasure sat in the picturesque small town of Peshawbestown, just 20 minutes north of Traverse City proper? A full casino, restaurant, lodge, and an exceptional mid-size concert venue amidst the charm of small-town tourist stops; wineries, restaurants, cafes and even a national park close by. I made a mental note to check out as many local spots as possible. 

But it was all business tonight; I was there to photograph. A rowdy, enthusiastic crowd of 80’s hair band fans clutching Bud Light in both hands had convened in the showroom for Skid Row. What a special treat. After an incredible, high-energy show, an accommodating, friendly and professional crew, an energetic crowd (and only one misbehaving audience memeber, who took it upon himself to climb on stage and run his ridiculous self through the set, mid-song), I wrapped the night with some truly spectacular shots. The icing on the cake was shaking the hand of Scotti Hill, ZP Heart, Rob Hammersmith and Rachel Bolan in the green room after their set. Chatting about tour life, photography and legacy, and thanking them profusely for bringing us a raucously wonderful evening of high-energy rock & roll. I drove back to the resort along the lakeshore under a brilliant sky dotted with stars, feeling very thankful that a little photographer from Texas could have an opportunity to explore such a unique part of the world.

​But it was all business tonight; I was there to photograph. A rowdy, enthusiastic crowd of 80’s hair band fans clutching Bud Light in both hands had convened in the showroom for Skid Row. What a special treat. After an incredible, high-energy show, an accommodating, friendly and professional crew, an energetic crowd (and only one misbehaving audience memeber, who took it upon himself to climb on stage and run his ridiculous self through the set, mid-song), I wrapped the night with some truly spectacular shots. The icing on the cake was shaking the hand of Scotti Hill, ZP Heart, Rob Hammersmith and Rachel Bolan in the green room after their set. Chatting about tour life, photography and legacy, and thanking them profusely for bringing us a raucously wonderful evening of high-energy rock & roll. I drove back to the resort along the lakeshore under a brilliant sky dotted with stars, feeling very thankful that a little photographer from Texas could have an opportunity to explore such a unique part of the world.

Rock legends aside, I had an adventurous weekend ahead of me exploring the hidden treasures of the Upper Peninsula. Saturday morning began with a coffee to go and a mini-hike down to the beach, through a small nature preserve just minutes from the entrance of Grand Traverse Resort. I hiked a small, wide trail under towering pines and happened across a 30-foot private beach adjacent to sparkling blue waters, not a soul in sight. A perfect way to soak up the early morning sun in solitude with a great cup of joe and gentle waves lapping at the shore. Batteries charged, I hopped in the car with a hiking pack and my camera and headed toward downtown to get my bearings.

I made a quick detour to a local cafe called Higher Grounds, situated in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. It was a spot I was itching to check out. Known as “a beautiful solution to urban sprawl,” this historic redevelopment (which is fully still in the works, by the way) is ambitiously transforming a hospital compound built in the 1880’s. It sits in the middle of 480

stunning acres of parkland, no less, and bit by bit, the incredible grounds are being repurposed into shops, markets, restaurants, cafes, breweries and event spaces. It hosts farmer’s markets, festivals and historical tours and is quite a spot to wander and (purposely) get lost in. Higher Grounds coffeehouse sits on the hill overlooking the main historical buildings, and an establishment worth mentioning in its’ own merit. With a sustainable, zero-waste “people + planet + profit” coffee mantra, it sets itself aside with a mission statement to be envious of – and a great name. Ordering my fancy coffee, I was pleasantly surprised to be denied a paper to-go cup. Instead, they invited me to take a pretty (and definitely not disposable) ceramic mug, and return it if and when I could.

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It stopped me in my tracks. With a quick change of heart, I decided to take a moment to sit, sip and savor the scene in their sunny coffee garden. I chatted with locals, soaked up some sun, met Franklin; the cutest and friendliest golden retriever on the planet (and his owners too, I guess… but I couldn’t tell you their names if you paid me). I wandered for a bit, snapped photos and read about the history of the compound locals call “The Asylum.” I made a mental note to make a return at some point during my week. 

For now, though, I was off to the northwest side of the peninsula to make good use of my shiny new annual National Parks Pass with a visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Along my way, I passed JACOB’S CORN MAZE in all caps and surrounded by wineries. If that’s not a combination worthy of an afternoon adventure, I don’t know what is. After a scenic half-hour drive, I parked, slung my camera on my back, and ambitiously hiked the dunes (barefoot!) for the first stretch of my afternoon. Sleeping Bear dunes offers visitors a literal sand dune mountain climb, hundreds of feet in the sky, with stunning vistas and outlooks at the top. But those are only for the ones who manage to wade up the unforgiving Mount-Everests of sand. I watched many people give up partway. Breathlessly reaching the top of the dune climb (disclaimer: I’m pretty fit, and this was not easy), the views of Glen Lake and Lake Michigan are more than worth it. The delightful trip back down the sandy mountain is akin to a sandy, sunny moonwalk-meets-anti-gravity-moon-dance facilitated by sunshine, soft sand, muscles that are by now jello, and the laws of gravity. Mostly the gravity part, though. And an inexplicable desire to leap, float and frolic all the way back down the dune. I’m sure it looked less graceful than it felt. Did I care? …not in the least. 

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After two hours, many photos and a little too much sun, I packed my weary self back in the car to loop the scenic drive. This is where you can find a number of incredible scenic overlooks, the Pierce Stocking Drive Covered Bridge and the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook; where a dramatic coastline meets catastrophically steep sand dunes towering almost 500 feet above the lake. And naturally, I arrived to find a copious number of tourists doing risky, obnoxious things in the general vicinity of a vertigo-inducing dropoff. With high lake levels and no beach left at the bottom, I was a little surprised to watch adults and children alike, slipping and sliding the treacherous dune descent, down to the water, and having to crawl on hand and knee back up. It had to take an hour to get back up – IF you were nimble enough. Warning signs dotted the overlook, deterring visitors from descending, lest they find themselves unable to get back up and require rescuing, which the signs informed me would cost a pretty penny. Luckily, the vertigo overlooking the massive drop alone was alone enough to stop me from even thinking about making that hike. Or maybe common sense; I don’t know which. But I’ve never seen anything more beautiful; the golden sun long and low over the illuminated turquoise lake colliding with steep dune cliffs.

After cruising through the famed covered bridge and taking 290,107,395 photos, I headed back into town to grab an indulgent Company Burger from Midland Burger Company. I’d heard rumors of how great this local burger joint was. It clearly surpassed all of the glowing reviews and made it into my Top Five Burgers in the World list within the first bite. I had grabbed couple of wine spritzers and the plan was to pack myself, a picnic dinner and my camera to the beach for a sunset picnic shoot. The burger didn’t make it… or rather, I didn’t wait. But the view and the spritzers did not disappoint – nor did the incredible sunset. 

Sunday was another exploring day, this time a leisurely cruise north toward Old Mission Lighthouse, through the middle-most peninsula dotted with sunny farmland and rolling vineyards. Capping the peninsula was an historic lighthouse landmark with a fair bit of history, an incredible beach and some showstopping photos to be taken. I spent as much time admiring the cute, quaint little lighthouse as I did people-watching and playing with rogue visitor’s dogs. Standing atop the lighthouse stair climb was a breathtaking view of the lake; turquoise waters lapping at the white sand beach beneath. Before I knew it, I’d hiked the trails and found myself perusing the beach, searching for petoskey stones while a Canadian couple told colorful stories about the history and unlikely inhabitants of the region.

I have no idea if any of them were true, but they also made several winery recommendations, so it was a productive (if not entertaining) conversation. I found myself heading south to Chateau Chantal winery with a boatload of information, way too many photos and an inkling for a nice crisp Michigan white. After picking the brains of an enthusiastic tasting room server, I sat on the patio overlooking rolling vineyards framed with views of distant crystalline blue lakes. I tasted several varietals, my favorite being the subtle, not-too-dry and not-too-sweet Pinot Grigio with notes of peach, pear and limestone. A perfect reason to kick back in the warmth of the late-afternoon sun and people watch.

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​On Monday morning, I decided to kick the new week in the (figurative) butt, by getting a kickstart with a chilly sunrise photoshoot on the misty western shore of Grand Traverse Bay. Between a marina and the tall ship Manitou, I found an ideal lookout. Mother nature was clearly on my side as lucky flocks of gulls and geese soared across the spectacular pink, purple and peach sunrise. The crisp morning yielded some dramatic sunrise images. One, with a perfect line of Canadian geese silhouetted up the long hued rays of the rising sun would later become my #GTRSunrisetoSunset photo entry and earn me a place in the Top Ten. Satisfied, and no less than a little chilled through, I grabbed a vanilla latte and a hearty breakfast sandwich to go and headed back to the resort. Today was a workday, no less, and I had much to do. 

Monday and Tuesday were spent photographing a variety of locations around the resort – from scenic sunsets reflecting off the glass tower of Grand Traverse Resort, to misty mornings on the chilly golf course, eternalizing the early morning golfers fringed by drifting wispy mists of fog ascending from the many creeks and ponds. In the afternoons, I’d drive into town to check out cafes, shoot lakeview panoramas from Leelanau Sands Lodge, or catch dramatic architectural shots around the city and the resort. It made for a happy photographer; very happy indeed.

Midweek, I met my colleagues for a celebratory group dinner at the top of the tower for an exquisite sixteenth-floor dinner overlooking the lake. Aerie Restaurant features a vibrant, contemporary award-winning menu of bold, eclectic dishes perfectly paired with wine and cocktail offerings. They are presented to you by a personable, knowledgeable local staff. I enjoyed chatting with our server just as much as the buttery fresh salmon served over aromatic risotto that so perfectly paired with Mari Vineyards “Troglodyte Bianco.” And later a bold Stolpman “Para Maria” syrah as I dove enthusiastically into an indulgent vanilla bean Crème Brulee with Chocolate Ganache. PSA: Nobody needs to be a lady when there’s creme brulee to be had. We certainly didn’t leave hungry, nor were we starving for good conversation and breathtaking sunset views. 

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On Wednesday we hit The Wolverine – one of three immaculate golf courses encompassing the resort. I’m no golf pro, but there were photos to be taken, golf carts to commandeer, and beer to be sipped. While the weather didn’t quite cooperate (Read: cold winds were howling the entire time, and we gave up in the rain at lucky hole #13). But no matter, because we headed indoors to clean up, dry off and reconvene downtown. Our group met again at Little Fleet, a Portland-esque indoor/outdoor food truck park with a great bar and people-watching galore. We grabbed beer and cider and gathered just outside (where it had mercifully stopped raining) for conversation and to meet the locals and all of their dogs. But mostly their dogs. Dinner was across the street at a tiny, library-meets-modern-art-gallery cottage of a restaurant called The Cook’s House. And cook they did – we enjoyed a five course extravaganza, a champagne toast, incredible local wine, braised beef over bone marrow mashed potatoes, and shared a few too many desserts. I would travel all the way back to Michigan to visit The Cook’s House again for their artisan cheese plate or the ingenious sesame seed matcha ice-cream sandwich dessert.

Two incredible dinners in two days left me needing a little exercise the following morning. Luckily, an early morning sunrise photoshoot left me with a little time to explore the resort’s health-nut options. To my great surprise, I learned that Grand Traverse Resort fully caters to the active crowd with a 5k running trail. My overachiever self laced up her running shoes, ran the course twice, and then took a sideline around The Bear golf course and up onto the country roads – an incredible morning jog of just over 6 miles. Multiple times during my run, I silently wished I’d discovered this sooner.

Late in the day, the weather turned sour with storm clouds rolling over the bay. Our late afternoon bonfire/Beach Club photoshoot took a turn for the worse, so instead I ventured north to find a more secluded beach or bay. I hoped I might still snap a few sunset merch photos if the winds mellowed and the weather decided to cooperate. I found myself on an immaculate sheltered north-facing beach in the quaint town of Elk Rapids.

As the sun sank lower in the sky, I managed to set up and shoot my staged beach picnic logoed gear; a picnic blanket, wine and wine glasses, mugs, tourist guides… I had just opened a bottle of Shady Lane Cellars Coop de Blanc and poured a single glass, getting super creative with prisms and lighting in front of a dramatic sunset. Golden rays of light peeking through the clouds sparkled artistically through the wine glasses as they simultaneously backlit the wine bottle. This was the pinnacle of art photography; gorgeous, just gorgeous. It was precisely the pinnacle of my admiration over the creative scene in front of my lens when a furry, sandy, lakewater-drenched tornado exploded through my so carefully set scene. It was followed by a screaming teen who body-slammed her rogue canine as she profusely apologized and attempted to right the spilled bottle of wine and sandy glasses. I could do nothing but laugh; at least I’d already gotten my picture. I attempted at least a sip of the sandy white blend before pouring the gritty concoction out, feeling the wind and surf spray pick up, chasing my towel down the beach in the blustery breeze and admitting defeat. I chatted briefly with the locals (guilty doggo included) before I left; they informed me that “up here, the weather changes every ten minutes… be prepared to not be prepared.” Oh yeah? I didn’t notice.

Friday was my last full day in Traverse City, so I made sure to spend a little time downtown with my laptop and camera – finding the perfect workspace -slash- people watching location at BREW, a downtown cafe with great coffee and a front-window table with my name on it. I sat and sipped multiple locally-sourced almond milk lattes (my favorite), ate a leisurely, over-the-top-delicious chef salad lunch and caught up on emails. By late afternoon, I was due back at Leelanau Sands Casino for the Tailgate party hosted by local station WTCM, and then to photograph the Scotty McCreery show as the culmination of the Casino’s 20th Anniversary celebrations.

It struck me again just how diverse the live music and entertainment options were in this region – it was no small feat to host chart-topping country music superstars and 80’s hair band legends, all in the span of a week. But up here, this was a regular thing. It was another exceptional evening; a great show and an almost sold-out crowd. While I’m not a huge country fan, it was a wonderful concert and a treat to see and meet the American Idol star I’d rooted for so many years ago.

On my final morning in Michigan, I made the most of my time and met a colleague for at The Red Spire, a popular brunch spot situated smack-dab in the middle of the labyrinths of the aforementioned Village Commons. We enjoyed a hearty traditional breakfast that was as fresh as it was cheerful, and then wandered the halls of the Commons, learning about the fascinating past of this mini-city compound and its’ secrets from more that a hundred years prior. The Commons offers historical tours, including a walk through the (slightly) creepy underground tunnels. Sad that I learned of this a little too late, I vowed to return one day to take this tour. 

I can’t wait to return. Traverse City is an incredibly vibrant, diverse and interesting city that caters to a spectrum of visitors every year. For a young, outdoorsy adventurer with a penchant for nature, wineries, great food, super photogenic locations left and right, and a little local flavor – it was the perfect place to visit. I found myself wishing repeatedly that I had another full week to explore the vibrant town and the (many) incredible outdoor activities and destinations surrounding. There were so many unexpected music-related destinations and activities. From live music on the beach, to fantastic local bands playing small venues and the surprisingly large international acts making an appearance at Leelanau Sands Showroom. There is a clear priority here for great live music, food and wine, and a vibrant entertainment scene. And the (figurative) cherry on top is the Cherry Capital Airport, which is the easiest and friendliest small-town airport I’ve yet flown through. I mean, making it through security and to your gate in six minutes? With over 20 direct flights to cities such as Dallas, DC, and Sarasota (and more coming soon), it makes flying to TVC an absolute breeze. I will most certainly plan another trip to Traverse City and Grand Traverse Resort, and I’ll be the first to admit that my To Do list for the next trip is probably already too ambitious. 

Levitation 2019

Levitation Music Festival 2019

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Inspired by the creativity, color and music of the 1960’s, Levitation is an annual three-day psych rock music festival held in Austin, TX. In 2008, a creative collective called The Reverberation Appreciation Society banded together to host a one-day festival, then called the Austin Psych Fest in North Austin. It has since grown to a three-day event, renamed Levitation (2014), and hosted annually at venues all over town from art-deco decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant to Carson Creek Ranch, an outdoor venue where camping was made available. When severe weather damaged the festival grounds and caused the cancellation of the 2016 fest (and postponement of 2017’s event), the team decided to relocate back to a more central indoor location. Levitation found its home in the Red River District of downtown Austin, where it has remained since, blossoming into an acclaimed festival attracting attendees from all over the world. 2019’s festival was held the weekend of November 7-10 utilizing beloved Red River venues Stubbs Austin, Mohawk, Empire, Barracuda, Elysium, Cheer Up Charlie’s and expanding to nearby non-Red River venues Central Presbyterian Church and Hotel Vegas. 

Very last-minute, I was invited to attend and photograph the festival on behalf of livingthefestlife.com. Who was I to say no to a colorful, action-packed weekend of great music? So with little notice, I packed my camera bags and set off on Thursday afternoon to collect festival credentials at a little side-venue on East Sixth called Volcom Gardens. This was an experience itself; a small “creative hub” hosting modern interactive art, fun brand activations and free live music. I love the East side of downtown for its’ low-key creative collective feel; Volcom was the embodiment of exactly that. With a shiny new wristband and a handful of show tickets in-hand, I headed back to the central downtown area to attempt to find parking. Blessed to be there a little early, street parking was plentiful and affordable at just $10. Tip: If you attend Levitation or any local Austin event, get there early to nab a spot on the street and you won’t have to worry about expensive parking lots. 

Thursday started out big with stacked sets at Stubb’s Austin, a local BBQ joint that has grown into an infamous music venue with indoor and outdoor stages hosting international acts. I’ve seen everything from Slash, Matisyahu and AWOLnation to Willie Nelson, Vampire Weekend and even Muse on this stage and it’s always an intimate, well-run show with meticulous sound. Our first act of the day was Laetitia Tamko; better known by her stage name Vagabon, a Cameroonian-American multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. Following this was Devendra Barnhart, a charismatic Venezuelan-American singer-songwriter and visual artist known for a psych folk sound that borders on musical and visual poetry. We wrapped the three-act set with romantic alt-indie folk singer-songwriter Angel Olsen. Her music and her act is silky and sultry, sometimes subtle before accelerating to a hauntingly impactful magnitude with incredible vocals.

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​I grabbed a late-night dinner at my favorite low-key local spot, Koriente; which sits just off the Red River district and serves incredible pan-asian dishes that are fresh, healthy, delicious and quick. I had the spicy chicken with a fried egg and rice medallions, with Boba and their signature (and also free) miso soup. Warmed up and sufficiently recharged, I decided to make one final stop at the opening night of the Waterloo Greenway’s Creek show. An annual local nighttime art installation, the Creek Show partners with Levitation. They had opened their brand-new psychedelic light-based art features spanning several blocks of the Waterloo Greenway creekbed trail in tandem with the opening night of Levitation festival. It was freezing cold by the time I arrived, camera-in-hand, so there were minimal crowds. I perused the art, snapped photos (my favorite pastime is creative low-light fractal photography) and headed home thoroughly cold but warmly fulfilled by the art, color, music, great food and welcoming vibe of Red River’s music scene. 

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On Friday temperatures began to plunge steeply. Too late to nab tickets to many of the sold-out sets at Empire, Barracuda and Mohawk, I headed over to Stubbs where the line for The Flaming Lips’ evening set was already around the block. Instead of waiting in line, I took a quick gander over to Cheer Up Charlie’s where DJs had begun their set. I drowned my no-ticket sorrows with the best sweet potato fries to be found in the city at Arlo’s, an infamous vegan food truck that resides right on Cheer Up’s property. Alex Maas of the Black Angels was scheduled for a pop-up set at the Creek Show, so I took a cruise in that direction before the crowds and cold started to get the better of me. Desperate for a warmer indoor venue, I decided to head over to the east side, where Hotel Vegas would be hosting several artists later in the evening. 

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East sixth street is my low-key favorite part of town; one many would argue is a little more “Austin” and a little less “tourist.” (Tip: definitely check this area out if you want something a little less mainstream/cosmopolitan) There are incredible bars, restaurants and food trucks, plus my favorite little dive bar, Violet Crown, which hosts great drink specials, really good beer, plays movies like Step Brothers and always promises great people-watching. But I (sadly) wasn’t headed there – I was on a mission to catch Aquarian Blood and Hash Redactor at Hotel Vegas. The venue was packed, and rightfully so – the alt, indie garage rock goodness was overwhelmingly excellent. Husband-and-wife duo Laurel & JB made the performance of Aquarian Blood probably a favorite of the evening. All was not lost with the sold out shows, because ending up at Hotel Vegas was a blessing in disguise.

​Saturday started with a set in the Central Presbyterian Church; arguably the most beautiful live music venue I’d ever experienced. Ioanna Gika and Chelsea Wolfe’s sets were nothing short of otherworldly; a breathtaking, uplifting spectacle bordering on religious. As in: music is my religion. I departed a little early to catch dinner with a dear writer friend who was in town for Levitation. We met at one of Austin’s best (and arguably most underrated) sushi spots, BarChi. Situated on Colorado and Second street, the downtown restaurant offers a dynamic menu of sushi, small plates and a really great Happy Hour. Honestly, what more do you need? The food is always super fresh and reliably on par with other sushi joints that charge significantly more. It’s my local haunt and it’s truly excellent. Tip: if you like sushi, don’t miss BarChi.

With full bellies, we hit Red River district again to catch The Well, Zig Zags and Acid King at Barracuda. Bouncing between indoor and outdoor stages to catch acts on each stage, we sipped Austin Eastciders and perused the indoor art market as a great local DJ spun records in between sets.

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With my friend occupied with artist interviews for several hours, I decided to head back over to the east side, where Hotel Vegas would again be hosting several can’t-miss artists later on. Walking across town, I made a pit-stop at The North Door, who was hosting a fundraiser Launch Event for a brand new music nonprofit in town, the Austin Music Export. Wanting to learn more, I spent a couple of hours there. It was time well-spent meeting local music supporters, catching local Austin artists Syndey Wright, Jeff Plankenhorn and Donovan Keith’s wonderfully upbeat sets and winning a gorgeous handmade necklace by a local artist in the silent auction, benefitting the AME directly. I also enjoyed a Citrus Mule made with Austin’s own Deep Eddy vodka and the spiciest, most delicious ginger beer that they wouldn’t disclose the source of (darn you, craft cocktail connoisseurs…) and snacked on tacos and nachos from North Door’s Pueblo Viejo kitchen. To wrap the evening, I managed to get to Hotel Vegas in time to see Richard Vain, Flipper and Richard Rose before dragging my deliciously tired self home for the evening. 

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Sunday was my fourth and final day, and it was a chilly one. With so many incredible shows under my belt (and enough blisters to verify my ambitious festival schedule), I decided to keep the evening fairly low-key and catch acts at just Stubb’s and Mohawk, right across the road. I began the evening with American alt rock classic, Dinosaur Jr., who had been on my list to see for many, many years. Photographing the set from the pit was a particular pleasure and I stayed to enjoy the remainder of the act with a Deep Eddy in one hand and a hand-warmer in the other. It was another chilly, freezing night. Between sets, I dashed across the road to Mohawk as I’d heard the venue had some incredible light art installations that shouldn’t be missed. I did not disappoint – both the stage, adjacent walls and surrounding area were lit up with psychedelic projected light patterns that evolved as the night and the music changed. Visually stunning, and a perfect backdrop to the psychedelic, experimental synth-pop of Dallas Acid. I ran back over to Stubbs in time to catch Kurt Vile and the Violators. Vile is the former lead guitarist of The War on Drugs and an incredible singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His happy indie rock set was the perfect, mellow end to my Levitation 2019 experience. 


Tips for attending Levitation:

This festival isn’t your typical all-in-one, single-venue music fest. It spans multiple venues in several downtown areas with different capacities, schedules and ticketing. To get the most of it, the secret is to plan ahead. Write out a little schedule, know where your chosen venues are and what acts you want to catch ahead of time. Since there’s a significant distance between many of the venues, you will need to know where you’re headed and when. There might be a wait for an Uber or a delay finding parking at peak hours. Pay attention to how the wristbands and ticket levels actually work in order to avoid any nasty surprises. Not all venues are guaranteed access and not all wristbands get you in to every venue on the schedule. The regular 4-day wristband ($395) gets you in to Stubbs, Mohawk, Empire and Barracuda, but not the other venues which are ticketed separately. There is also a less expensive wristband option ($165) to get access to only the Stubbs shows for all four days. You can also pick and choose, buying shows individually (price varies) but since many shows were 100% Sold Out by day-of-show, make sure you purchase ahead. 

It is a great festival with flexible options for attending – as long as you don’t leave the decision-making to the last minute – which is kind of what I did, and that didn’t pan out as well as I’d hoped. The Red River district is truly a unique area of Austin with so many great surrounding food trucks, restaurants, pop-ups and venues to check out. The concurrent Creek Show is an absolute treat to see, and if you pair that with a very uniquely Austin atmosphere, music to please even the most discerning of tastes, endless popup art, culture and music features, and the guarantee of great people-watching, Levitation is a can’t miss Austin tradition.


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