Matt Nathanson and Eric Stepanian

**DISCLAIMER-  this is the longest blog post ever... feel free to skip my babbling and go straight to photos if you wish :) **

The first time I heard Matt Nathanson was when he covered the song Laid for the American Wedding soundtrack.  I was in college at the time and American Wedding was playing continuously on the college movie station for an entire month.  I watched it one night and remember being completely hooked on the opening and closing song... a song I had definitely heard before,  but this time it sounded sooooooooooooooooo much better.  I looked it up online and found out the singer was Matt Nathanson, whose name I had heard once or twice but whose music I wasn't familiar with at all.  Anyways, like I said, I was HOOKED on that song.  I ended up taping the movie from TV (can you believe it was only a couple of years ago that VHS was still used?) and I would literally play and rewind, play and rewind the last scene over and over, dancing around the room to Laid, sometimes sober, sometimes intoxicated, sometimes fully clothed and sometimes in my skivvies (hey, this blog is all about full disclosure, and my old roommates would end up calling me out anyways, so what's the point in hiding it?  I sometimes dance around the room in my underwear.  I am not ashamed.)  From then on, I was addicted to Matt Nathanson.  I bought Beneath These Fireworks first, then At the Point and Some Mad Hope a few years later, and all 3 still take up 3 of the 6 slots in my car CD player.  I even came thisclose to tattooing some of his lyrics around an already existing tattoo I have on my back, but the Beatles "Let It Be" finally won out in the final showdown (sorry Matt).

A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend who I was friends with on Facebook (still following me?) posted something about having booked the first concert to come to Simmons College, and how excited she was.  A few people had posted to congratulate her, and one friend asked who was playing.  When I saw her reply was Matt Nathanson, I immediately posted and asked if she needed a hand.  She replied "Would you like to photograph instead?"  Hmmm, would I like to photograph Matt Nathanson?  Hmmm... I don't know... does Snooki like to drink tequila?  Has Charlie Sheen gone bat-sh*t crazy?  Is Miley Cyrus still the most annoying person in the U.S.A?  The answer is YES.  Yes, Tia, yes, I would love to photograph the Matt Nathanson show.  I drove to Simmons on Saturday blasting Matt (we're on a first name basis now, it's fine) the entire way.  Okay, I did take a break and listen to Mumford and Sons for a little while, but it was quickly back to Matt.  And as I anticipated the concert didn't disappoint.  Matt was awesome, he was funny, he played a great set and he hung out and said hi to everyone after, even though he had to be across town at another show right away.  He even let me accost him with my business card, since I reallllllllllly want to put his new single Faster on my website :)  I realized on my way home that the Simmons show was the 5th time I have seen him live.  I saw him once in Birmingham with Ingrid Michaelson (whose music is on my website now- love her!), at a waterfront festival in Gloucester, at the House of Blues in Boston with Jack's Mannequin (another one of my favorite bands) and at the Calvin Theater with the Indigo Girls.  In honor of my 5th Matt experience, I decided to make a few lists for you (my life is all about order these days).  So let's start with the 5 reasons I love Matt Nathanson, and you should too:

1.  He's an incredible musician. This one was probably obvious, but really- I lived in Nashville and saw some great musicians all over the place downtown, and no one plays guitar like Matt Nathanson.

2.  He plays for his fans. It still baffles my mind that Matt Nathanson isn't a household name.  He's been around for years and still some people only know "Come On Get Higher" or the Laid cover.  Every album he's made has been amazing, but for some reason he's not "mainstream", and that seems to be fine with him.  He doesn't show any signs of selling out- his music is always original, it never sounds manufactured, and he always gives his fans the best of the best.

3.  He's a great blogger. If you want to know anything about the history of music, or what records to buy, or what's going on in the world of pop culture, just follow his blog.  It is clever and informative and funny... which leads me to #4...

4.  He's HILARIOUS. The first time I saw him in concert I was completely taken aback.  He is downright hysterical.  I left that show feeling like I went to both a comedy show and a concert, and it's probably the #1 reason that I go to his shows every chance I get.  The CD's are amazing, but to be there live to hear what off-the-cuff thing he's going to say next is worth it every time.

5.  He's not hard to look at. I hate to take it there, but ladies, let's be honest.  I don't know too many girls who don't love the guy strumming the guitar singing the broody, angsty song about lost love.  But when that guy is actually good looking to boot?  I feel bad saying it.. I mean I feel like it might cheapen everything else I say about Matt, and make him feel like a piece of meat (cause he OBVIOUSLY reads my blog haha) but really... he's pretty easy on the eyes.

And here is a list of my top 5 songs to download of his.  Honestly it was REALLY hard to narrow it down to 5, but I want to stick with the theme here ;)

1.  Wedding Dress. You probably all think, oh, Wedding Dress, she's a wedding photographer, this makes sense.  It is acually a completely heartbreaking song.  This isn't a happy one you'd play as your first dance song; this is about being stuck and wanting to let go and using all your energy just to still be in it... just totally heartbreaking stuff.  I've been in a couple of relationships where I thought I could love the other person enough for the both of us, and this song reminds me that you can't, and you don't want to.  I would never want to be that person that made someone feel like that.

2.  Weight of it All. There aren't even words to describe the way I feel when I hear this song.  Still get chills every time.  Just download it.  Now.

3.  Heartbreak World. This song just feels like my life.  The opening line is "Let's all pack up and move this year."  Followed by "Slip the liars and disappear, leave memories for auctioneers..."  I can relate to everything in this song, most of all the urge to run and start over.

4.  Church Clothes. I think everyone can relate to this song, which is about meeting that person who makes you want to be a better person, in spite of yourself.  Almost a fun, but naughty, but self-reflective, but self-deprecating, all the while being beautiful, song.  I might be a little tired right now, but I'm sticking with that description :)

5.  Still. All I can say is HOT.  Still is one his "sexy songs".  At Simmons he described it as "when you have one of those experiences of being with someone and you want each other so bad you feel like you might actually die if you stop touching each other" haha.  This song came out on Some Mad Hope, and at the time I was living in Nashville and getting ready to come back north.  One of my last nights there, my roommate and I drove out to Memphis for a night, and I met someone.  We just clicked.  I had never even experienced anything like it, and haven't since.  He was on the road for work, and was due in FL the next day.  Instead he followed me back to Nashville and stayed for 2 days.  When he finally had to leave, he asked me to come with him.  He wanted me to come to FL and to see what could happen if we tried to make a go of it.  And I said no.  Not because I didn't want to go- because at that point I was literally in love and would have probably married that guy right then and there had he been crazy enough to ask haha- but because everything had been SO PERFECT between us, and I honestly thought that if I went something might get ruined.  Who thinks like that??  Yup, I'm damaged goods lol.  Anyways, I said no, and we continued talking by phone and text and MySpace (remember MySpace?  that was fun) for months, but never saw each other again.  I think about that decision a lot, if anything would have been different if I had been a little more spontaneous and had a little more faith, but everything's a learning process.  This song still reminds me of that experience.

Some other very downloadable songs (can't just list 5- sorry!): Sad Songs, Sing Me Sweet, Pretty The World, All Been Said Before, All We Are, Little Victories, I Saw, Sooner Surrender, and Bent.  You'll love them all, I promise!

Okay, so now that this blog post has turned into a book (literally, a novel... sorry) I will start showing you some pictures.  Matt had an amazing opener, Eric Stepanian, who blew me and everyone else away.  I'm sure by next year I'll be blogging lists about how much I love him and what songs to download :)

A couple shots while the stage was being set up...

I don't know why, but I have this weird obsession with music equipment.  Like if I could get paid to photograph musical equipment all day long I would be a happy chick.  I'm not talking clarinets or tubas or anything; I'm talking I love being at concerts and seeing all the old, worn out cases full of weird stuff that I wouldn't know how to work in a hundred years.  It's always beat up with cool looking buckles and it always makes me wonder where those cases have been.

So back to the opener, Eric Stepanian.  All I can say is WOW.  I don't even know Matt had an opener until about 2 days before the show when I got the final schedule for the day, and I love being pleasantly surprised.  Eric was amazing!  Great lyrics, great voice, and pretty funny, just like Matt.  You could definitely see why the two would be performing at the same show.  I've been to concerts where the opener makes no sense at all... and this was not one of those shows.  Eric's music got the crowd warmed up perfectly for Matt, and he had me dying with his 90's mash-up of songs, which included a little Britney, a little Backstreet Boys... I think he even had the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in there too.... hilarious!  So these are my favorite shots of Eric... I had started off shooting with my regular 5D and when Eric started the show I just wasn't feeling that camera, so I switched to the Mark II with my 50 mm lens on.  This was my first shot out of that camera.  Yes please!  I shot with it for the rest of the night :)

Now this was only the second concert I have ever photographed, and of course I was nervous.  The lighting is always hard and I am always hard on myself- I want to do the best job I can with everything I do, and so I often don't even take assignments if I don't think that I can deliver.  But I really wanted to do this concert and I definitely put my nerves aside and went ahead with it, even though I'm sure there are about 1 million better concert photographers than me in the city of Boston.  But honestly, I got halfway through this show, and I realized what it is that I love so much about concert photography- ANYTHING GOES.  Literally.  You listen to the music, watch the way the artist is moving and interacting with the audience and the instruments, and you just shoot what you feel.  The lighting doesn't always matter- I ended up going through my images and finding that some of my favorites were the ones where the lighting was way off and the subject wasn't even lit properly.  At a wedding, that would never fly, but at concerts, I feel like it conveys the emotion going into the music.  Am I babbling?  I'm babbling... but seriously, I love doing concerts!

So here is an example of what I mean- this was one of my favorite images of the entire night!

And here's another one... in this image I actually chose to focus on one of the lights towards the back of the stage and have Eric blurry in the front... but in PhotoShop I was curious to what it would look like if I took that light out altogether.  And I ended up loving the result.  Now this could be a matter of total personal taste... I know my dad sometimes looks at my more "artsy" shots and says "I don't get it" haha, but I'll take a chance and post this anyways, cause like I said, I love it!

Alright, onto Matt.  Sigh.  I was allowed to be up close for 3 songs of Matt's set and then I had to adios myself, and at first I was a little nervous that I wouldn't have enough time to get great stuff.  Honestly, I ended up being so grateful to just have those 3 songs.  It forced me to push myself, know my settings quicker, and it also gave me time afterwards to just relax and enjoy Matt's show.  Like I said, I've seen him several times before and it's always a great experience.  Comedy show and concert in one= how can you go wrong? :)

At the end of the show, Matt did a meet-and-greet for all the volunteers, even though he literally had to be at BC for another show about a half hour later.  This was one of the last shots I took, Matt and all the Simmons volunteers.  Awesome night, thank you for having me Simmons!!!