October 23, 2008 – It’s CMJ 2008 and Bowery Ballroom is running 30 minutes late. Despite the horde of slightly annoyed indie kids and the early slot on the billing, Company of Thieves set out to be one of the most impressive bands of the festival – at least it that’s the way it ended up.

Newly signed to Wind Up Records, the the Chicago trio is a musically interesting and visually captivating mixture of 60s rock’n’roll and contemporary indie rock aesthetic. Marc Walloch’s guitar is sparse, clean, and hits riffs that evoke everything from The Rolling Stones to B.B King. Mike Ortiz provides a solid rhythmic foundation for the band’s retro groove and often incorporates dynamic cymbal work that accentuates the vocals and guitar. As good as the instrumentation is, the band’s live show is dominated by frontwoman Genevieve Schatz whose stage presence is nothing short of explosive.

Photographer’s Notes:

Getting a photography assignment at Bowery Ballroom is both a blessing and a curse. One the one hand, it’s still arguably the best place to see live music in Manhattan – the ticket prices won’t kill you, the drinks are reasonable, and the atmosphere is great. On the flip side, the lighting stinks compared to other other venues of the same size, and there is no photo pit which means a) photographers annoy paying fans b) everyone with a camera is blasting away with flash for the full set.

I shot this set entirely with the 24-70mm f/2.8 on the 1DmarkIII. And, yes, I used my 580EXII speedlight nearly the entire time.

Since the venue was packed to the gills, I set up shop just house right and one row back from the stage. I was determined to maintain a good shooting position for the later acts and thus did  not move during the set. Unfortunately I my stationary position left me with very poor angles all the band.

  1. Company of Thieves http://tinyurl.com/5ssfm5

  2. “Getting a photography assignment at Bowery Ballroom is both a blessing and a curse.”

    Don’t tell me about it… lighting looks great to watch but jeez it’s another story for us photographer. Lack of pit is also a turn off as you said. I usually stick with my 70-200:2.8, go upstairs and lay down to shoot underneath the tables. Allows me to shoot peacefully and to get completely different angles compared to 95% of the photographers who are fighting up front :)

  3. Hi Ahmed. There are a few photographers who like to shoot from the balcony at bowery and other venues like highline, blender and joes pub. For some reason, it’s never suited me. Call me a sucker I guess. =)

  4. I will just call you a fighter instead :)

  5. My jaw dropped when I saw you shot Company of Thieves… they’re one of the bands I regularly shoot, and also one of my favorite local Chicago bands, so I’m glad you liked them! I’ve lucked out and had some good lighting for them recently, but I’m going to be shooting them in one of the worst lit venues in Chicago in a few weeks. I’ll be thinking of you, haha.

    That last shot is great – you totally captured Gen! Isn’t she a powerhouse?