concert review

Comforting Cold

Past spring, I set a goal to make it to Iceland Airwaves this year. I had no idea I could actually afford the trip, but I had to stop letting dreams escape.
It was not all life of parties - at times, I was popping whatever to get me through the physical discomforts resulting from lack of sleep, over exertion, dehydration… it's a miracle that I didn't get sick and pass out!
Well, who really cares about that?
Just read my
Report Card and check out my photo galleries at Prefix:

So We Finnishly Meet

October, you have always been my favorite and this year, you have forever marked my heart.
Once again, the events unfolded seemed to be bound by fate.
Finland was calling me, and I found a way to be there.
Things didn't quite pan out the way I had first envisioned, but it all coalesced like some forgotten dream.
Because I had decided to catch
Delay Trees in concert though it meant I had to travel further from Helsinki.
And because I had found the courage to ask them if I can ride with them, I am now forever left with a memory of one magical night.
It's not easy for me to feel comfortable around most people, but I felt like a child with an untainted worldview around the lads of Delay Trees.
Do you know what I mean?
Do you recall once when you were young, when you believed in all possibilities and found wonder in the simplest things?
Well, I would never be able to translate the feeling in words verbatim but something like that.
That wonderful feeling when you don't feel like the need for a small talk.
When you feel you have known someone before you ever met them…

I found Finns generally to be one of the most likeable people.
And they produce loads of wonderful music that had escaped my ears until this year.
Think I'll stop here before it becomes what it is not…
But there is always the sadness - slowly, eventually, it fades - if you can't perpetually replicate the initial experience.
One day I'll build a perpetual replication machine…
For now, here's my piece on Delay Trees at Beats Per Minute
More from Finland later.

Delay Trees cover Everly Brothers "All I have To Do Is Dream" from Photosphere on Vimeo.

Before leaving for the Nordic countries, I caught an intimate acoustic show of Neil Halstead.
I was a big Slowdive fan back in the days, and it was difficult to buy into what he has done since then.
But checkout photos from the ever-challenging Doug Fir at
Prefix and concert videos on my YouTube.

I also checked out an instrumental act, Tycho.
Photos also at
Prefix and a video for "A Drift".

Tragic Milestone

This is a milestone - in a way.
Unfortunately, not in a good way…
I recently switched from Mac Pro desktop to iMac. One of the reasons why I switched was because I was having such a bad luck with internal drives in the desktop. Couple of years ago, all my business and photos were wiped out. Even sent the drive to the best recovery place in the nation and nothing.
Last year, another internal drive started to go. Before I could get everything off of the drive, it died so I no longer have files for lot of the video interviews. Just about a week ago, the external Lacie (the only brand I ever had trouble with for external drive) drive I had transferred all my music journalism related items for the past 3 years plus an experimental video done earlier this year which I was intending to enter into a festival went wacko, and now the file markers are 99% invalid. So there goes the hope of gallery shows and printing some of my fave shots… you ask, why didn't I backup? Well, that was the backup just before the backup process. I have so much data that it would be a full time job to keep things backed up and organized as they are updated. But yes, guess that's bit of a poor excuse.

So this
Xiu Xiu piece is the first since the death of my music journalism catalogue. There may be a hope yet, but this gal has been let down one too many times. Trying not to be attached. Still hurts though.

Missed and Found

After some dry spell, I'm getting excited about music journalism again.
So much good music coming out from everywhere, hard to keep up!
And I'm sure so much more I'm missing.
Just like a friend you always knew but never met.

Last Sunday, I went to see
Porcelain Raft (moniker of Mauro Remiddi), and turned out to be a very surreal night. Mauro was still living in Rome while I was spending my sophomore year for my fine art degree. Perhaps we were walking down the same street… but how surreal to meet him in Portland after all these years and felt like I met a friend I always knew.
You can read review, see photos, and concert videos at

Here's my fave song:

And my first
album review of the year - it was a tough one - some people have to be so damn clever ;)
Suffice to say, don't think I'll be doing another album review for awhile - feels like I'm back in my demanding art history classes at Notre Dame - though I do love the challenge and the academic reward…
Another new love - Choir of Young Believers from Denmark:

Photos from my second James show - unfortunately I was running on empty and strict first three song rule - the first song was pretty much in darkness :(

Swedes in San Francisco

Finally - Fredrik concert review and interview published online now.
To read the live review and see photos from both San Francisco shows go to
QRO magazine.
It was really dark so photography and vidography was pretty challenging.
Nice surprise when the band dedicated a song to me at the Hemlock Tavern show for coming down from Portland.

How lucky am I to interview one of my favorite bands twice in less than a year - one in their hometown of
Malmö, Sweden and this one in my neck of the woods (well, close enough when you consider how big US is).
For the video interview, go to
Beats Per Minute or watch below. But you can read my little blurb at the magazine.

Loney Treasure

Back from a week long trip to the NE. I had a video job in Boston and decided to drive to Montreal - because almost 6 hr drive didn't seem so bad and I wanted to visit a place that seemed to be most European... well, the 6 hr drive in the tiny Fiat would have not been so bad if I had enough time to enjoy the sights along the way except for the New Hampshire state liquor store. At least it was a nice, sunny fall weather-mostly.
Montreal didn't seem so European after all but foreign enough for the purpose. And of course these days, it's hard for me to take a trip and not mix my music jornalism so caught
Loney Dear since his 6 date N. American tour didn't stop in NW. Review, photos, and vdeos from the show are up on QRO.

Then while I was in my nice cozy B&B (
Le Cartier) in The Gay Village district of Montreal, noticed that Brooklyn Vegan finally published Day 1 (not sure when they'll get to Day2) photos from Treasure Island. Aubrey took most of the atmosphere photos but she didn't get her name in the credit :(

Cut Copy

I have been a fan of Cut Copy ever since the release of Neon Like Bright Love,. Unfortunately, I missed them during their previous tours. This year, I am making up for the lost time!
In March, Christina and I drove to Seattle to see them, and the show was certainly worth every penny, even the $170 stolen by some ill spirit. Just this past Sunday, I was lucky to get on the press list, thanks to
Sub Pop and Washed Out, who opened for Cut Copy. I had the best seat in the house - in front of incredible Tim Hoey -absolutely mesmerizing performance. I believe he gave me some of the best photos in my concert photography "career".
Tomorrow, I'll be catching The Cutters again in San Francisco.
I have to get up before sunrise to catch my flight so I'll just let my
review and photos speak for themselves.

Dark Wave Heaven

There is something dark and gothic about Friday, compared to all other days of the week. So how appropriate that on a Friday the (no not 13th) 22nd, Doug Fir hosted a dark wave dream lineup with Austra and Cold Cave. We could only get one press spot through Cold Cave so I had to also write the dreaded review but I think it turned out not too shabby. 2 more videos from this show on Vimeo.

Click on the photo for more Austra pics:

And to watch videos from this show, go to my Youtube channel

Scottish Ghosts

Guess Mogwai shows are one of the most in demand list to get on so I should feel lucky that I did. But what can I say? I get lonely by myself. But I didn't resort to alcohol and didn't even have a drop of water from the time before the opening band, Errors took stage to the final song of the night by Mogwai - which was probably about 2.5 hour. And that's a long time for me to stay in any one place! You can see the fruits of my labor - how attentive I was (shh - the video recordings are big help in writing reviews)... the lighting was tricky so don't feel these are my best photos.
Click here for more.


Though I could complain about a few things about my recent trip to northern Europe, it would be very minuscule. Contrary to my fears, the weather was very tolerable and every appointment was met. The biggest complaints are how expensive it is for an American, especially in Stockholm, and my suitcase met its end five days prior to my return - it's now rotting away somewhere in Berlin.
Had a bit of rough start before the weather loosened its grip of winter and trying to cope with unfamiliarities - likely the trip started in Denmark, where everyone speaks English (I do try to learn a few common phrases when I go to a foreign country, but Scandinavian languages are not as immerse-able as the romantic ones) and helpful - they are usually knowledgeable and honest, not like in Costa Rica, where it seems everyone has a different opinion about which is north and south.
After 8 days, I'm still about 35% from finishing all the pieces I have gathered during my trip. I didn't get to do much sightseeing, working on them as much as I can during the trip and have been at it ever since my return - guess when you also have video to deal with, it doubles the workload if not more.
My acupuncturist,
Shannon was sweet to connect me with her Danish friends, sisters Helle & Mette, who gave me an authentic Danish experience in their hometown of Sorø.

So far, Denmark pieces are done.
Spent 5 days in Denmark, based in Copenhagen to catch
Efterklang's final Magic Chairs concert and interview Casper with one day in Aarhus to see The Radio Dept. on their first date of European tour.
Click on the appropriate words to read the articles please.

Australian Invasion/ Swedish Love

I must confess, traditionally, February has always been the worst month for me. Halfway through this month, I can say so far, the myth is being de-mystified.
First of all, the glorious return of my favorite band, The Church with a monumental tour, performing three albums in one night! And they gave up Australian summer for the bitter winter of US for this! Well, at least up here in NW, things are pretty tame. Since they couldn't find a suitable venue in Portland, Christina and I drove up to Seattle to catch the on their second night.
Here's the review, where you can also find a link to photos.

And during that same week, I also reviewed fellow Aussies, Cut Copy's latest album,
Zonoscope. I put this one on when I need some energy boost.

And in less than one week from The Church concert, one of my other favorite bands - the elusive Swedes - The Radio Dept. came to town and left me with a big smile on my face. I had been emailing back and forth with their PR, trying to get a green-light for an interview with them. When I finally got my wish, I was so elated. But hours before the interview, I became extremely nervous. I mean, who wants to sound like an idiot in front of their object of affection? But it went down so much better than I had anticipated, and I'm still fondling in the memory of that night.
Thanks to Johan and Martin for being so cool. Can't wait to see you guys again.

Click for the Interview, which ends with my fave interview quote of all time.
And the Review.

All the while, I have been working on music video, business video, etc... which I hope to wrap up soon.
February - stay kind.

November Reign

Since it takes me log time to write anything coherent, let alone a whole review, I usually try to find someone else to take care of that, while I focus on the photos. But sometimes, things don’t always work out so for Clinic, show, I did double duty:
click on image

Just when I thought I had to do a double double-duty, Catherine from Beggars Group came through and got my writer, Alexandra on the press list for Blonde Redhead concert.
The elfish Icelandic songstress, Ólöf Arnalds, opened with just her charm and guitar and the lighting was one of the best in all my concert photo experience:

Unfortunately, though the setup was lovely, the lighting for photography proved to be much more of a challenge for the headliner:

You can read Alex’s review

After some break, thought it was time to sharpen my writing with some album reviews - click on the titles to read the reviews:

Owen Pallett - A Swedish Love Story EP

Badly Drawn Boy
It's What I'm Thinking, Pt. 1 - Photographing Snowflakes

The Radio Dept. - Never Follow Suit EP


October = ace of shows of bands I’ve never seen before.

My first show in October started with the reunited English band, James. From Tim Booth’s unearthly presence to the soulful performance, my only complaint of the concert was aging fans who showered me with their sweat.
Checkout the
photos I could get, trapped in by the crowd.

Finally, after eight years, since I first fell in love with their album,
You Forgot It in People, I finally got to see Broken Social Scene. Well, memory is a bit hazy and who has the time to read my detailed account when you can read it in magazines so my short version: it was absolutely dream come true, fantastic.
Photos from the show

The Foals released one of my fave albums this year, Total Life Forever. Their Mercury Prize nominated second album matured with sophistication since their raw punk pop debut, Antibodies. But I expected the Foals to be still rocking out in concerts with their first album mentality. And they delivered. Getting bored of writing again so you can just read my friend, Katherine’s review, and checkout my photos to get the picture:)

When I first requested for press pass fro Sufjan Stevens show, it was more out of curiosity rather than adoration. I also had never shot at the beautiful Arlene Schnitzer Hall since got denied for Belle & Sebastian. And of course, who wouldn’t want to add Sufjan to their portfolio? Well, QRO and I tried several times unsuccessfully to get on the list and finally, on the day of, I got a confirmation to the sold out show!
Schinitzer is one of the few venues that have assigned seating and being press, you got a spot just 4 rows away from the stage. So after the first three song photo shoot out, got to relax and enjoy the otherworldly world Sufjan created for his audience. I was sold! I even dressed up as him for Halloween, inspired by his crazy cosmic age attire.
Photo Gallery
the Review

And a glimpse of the 25min song performance:


So much music, so many bands - it’s a pity that you may never get to know your fave bands.
Though wish I had pricked up my ears earlier, but at least I found
Efterklang before I missed their second tour of this year.
I’ll admit, it took some time to warm up to their latest album,
Magic Chairs, and had to dig into their vault in order to fully realize what I had been missing.
When I saw Efterklang perform
“Cutting Ice to Snow” with the Danish National Orchestra on YouTube, it sent shivers all over my body, and brought me to tears. This is the power of music - it can get you high, get you to think, and take you to a new place. They are definitely one of the best live acts around.
What makes me love Efterklang even more is the band members themselves. They seem to have found their own little utopia where music is the king, and everyone is happy under its rule. They make me smile.
I was lucky enough to interview the lead singer and composer, Casper Clausen. This guy seem too perfect to be true. Anyway, won’t go on and on about how much I love these guys.
Funny how Denmark keeps giving me reasons to love... wonder if it’s a sign...

You can read the text interview, and checkout the
video version, which is edited with concert footage, as well as the photos I was able to get in that crappy lighting condition of Doug Fir at QRO.

Musicfest NW

This year, I was doing a double duty for Musicfest NW.
Last year, I only handled the photos, but since Christina was too busy this year to write the reviews, thought I could handle the challenge. It turned out to be a lot more work than I had anticipated!
But the event closed out with an excellent set in a perfect weather, at an outdoor venue. In the end, it seemed all worth it.
I’ll always take photos, but don’t think I’ll be writing again next year.
You can
READ about it and SEE the photos and videos.

What Come May: Owen Pallett & a-ha

This past May, I was only able to attend two concerts but it was definitely a case of quality over quantity.

On the 11th, my favorite violin player,
Owen Pallett, came to town with his magical keyboard and angelic voice.
His latest epic high concept album,
Heartland, is my favorite album of the year so far.
Nice setting for experimental chamber pop, but I always feel like I have to behave, and not get in people’s way at the
Aladdin while taking photos.
The only time people stood up was when
The Church played there.
Well, I guess better to just read
my review.

The second show was a fulfillment of our life-long dream. Christina and I flew to L.A. to see a-ha.
I never got to see David Bowie live and was not about to let anything stop me from catching my first favorite band.
It was everything we had hoped for. Our only regret was that we didn’t also come on the previous night.
Well, one can’t be too greedy I suppose.
Thanks to Kabeer for setting us up.
Links to
review and photos.

Album review on one of my favorite bands: The Radio Dept., and of course, they are from Sweden

The Church

Once I was at a summer camp at St. Mary’s College, the future institution for my first bachelors degree. I’m no catholic but it was to make mum happy.
Anyhow, it was at the summer camp in Notre Dame, Indiana in 1988, that I first fell in love with The Church and they changed my life forever. I had heard “Under The Milky Way” and liked the dark evocative sound of it. I was a music junkie and was on a hunt for the perfect band. Up to the summer of ’88, my fave band was a-ha, but they were maybe not complex enough? Besides, they were pretty well-known at the time and I liked the underdogs.
My roomie from Chicago had a cassette of Starfish. I put it into my walkman the first night I was getting ready to fall asleep. Within first minute of “Destination”, I knew I had found my band. The atmosphere their music created - and that melancholy, comforting voice and those lyrics!
Well, I could go on but I’ll end up with a novel.
So fast forward to present day. The Church is now 30 years old! Cant help feeling old, myself. So many implications... but anyhow, somehow I ended up interviewing Steve Kilbey. For a shy, clumsy, social idiot like me - what a disaster! And then we thought the whole bloody interview didn’t get recorded. I carried that weight as I witnessed another incredible live set by The Church.
Don’t want to bore you anymore, so here are the links to the review, the interview and the photo link in the review...

Concert Review


Loney Interview

Back in May, I heard a few songs on my favorite internet station: by Loney Dear, a Swedish singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist. When I learned that Loney, who’s passport name is Emil Svanängen, was coming to Portland, I asked Christina to join me at Doug Fir for the concert. We both agreed that it was one of the best concerts ever and he had us in the brink of tears.
When I started taking photos for
QRO magazine, I jumped at the opportunity to cover Loney Dear’s concert upon his return to Doug Fir in October. I also pushed for a video interview as well as recording the concert. Loney Dear’s PR (Forcefield) said it was fine and so was Emil.
By the soundcheck time, we still did not know when and where we were to do the interview. And the band did not arrive until half an hour before the door. They had been driving 13 hours from San Francisco and were naturally, exhausted. Emil wanted to do the interview in better conditions but he also did not want to disappoint us.
There were a lot of obstacles and details to deal with in such a short notice and lack of resources but I hope the result is not in vain.
Video Interview
You can also check out
my photos from the show.