Rocking the Roxy / by Andrew Fails

This weekend I got invited out to a concert by local Kansas City band Adam Evolving at The Roxy in Overland Park.  Local unsigned bands tend to have a (somewhat justifiable) bad reputation, but these boys buck that trend violently.  The sheer level of technical skill, combined with strict professionalism, is a wonderful surprise in this scene.  The band consists of Darrick Deterding on vocals, Josh Seichepine on bass, Casey Miller on drums, and Jimi Rowan on guitar.

They have low-key persona, but are slowly building an extremely devoted fan base.  Everyone who witnesses one of their performances becomes an avid supporter.  The Roxy is a small venue in a strip mall, but Adam Evolving still packed the floor.  Getting people out of their seats at these small shows is a feat in and of itself, but the audience was more densely packed at during this late set than at any other point during the evening.

Watching this band perform is always an interesting juxtaposition of visuals. Deterding on vocals is always this roiling mess of anguished fervor, flanked on either side by the solid pillars of Rowan and Seichepine.  The more that he bounces, wails, pleads, and proselytizes, the more solid Rowan and Seichepine seem to become, just standing as these pillars of intense focus and precision.  Rolling beneath and through all of this is Miller, who serves as an amazing combination of aggression tempered with precision.  His sharp cadences structure and drive the whole performance.

Because this was such a small venue, I switched up my normal method.  I tried to focus much more on the details of each performer, and get in close.  There is so much distraction with these types of events, from TVs playing sports, to angry drunks, to side conversations, that it's easy to lose sight of the performance.  So I tried to utilize framing and lighting to key in on these intense little moments on stage.

If you remove all of the other meaningless visual noise and colors, all you are left with at the end are the emotions that drive the music.  And that is what music is all about: making you feel something.  That is one of my favorite things about this group.  There is no pretense, or gimmick.  Just the attempt to convey ideas and feelings through words and music.

Shooting in tiny venues is always tricky, but it also forces you to be more creative.  No, you don't have the best sight angles. No, they never put the drum kit on a riser, so it's almost impossible to get clean shots of drummer over the rest of the band (sorry Casey).  Yes, you have to work around the crowd.  No, you will NEVER have good light.  Yes, the subjects are always moving.  But at the same time, I love it, as you get these unexpected little moments of emotion that you will never see in a more organized setting.