April 12, 2017

Kaleo and Judah & the Lion | Vancouver

Dear Orpheum theatre, it's been a while. You were my first concert venue in Vancouver, and man, were you a rush. Thinking about you gives me a sense of wonder and incites a nostalgically soundtracked montage in my head. You set the bar pretty high as far as venues go. And although these past several years, I have grown to love smaller more intimate places, I will never not want to keep walking back into your open doors and looking up at your opulently grandeur ceiling. Last week, on April 4th, 2017, I came back to you in a fit of excitement to see Kaleo and Judah & the Lion. I was a mix of giddy elation and nervous anticipation. 

Judah & the Lion were the openers for the show. I remember having heard of their tunes several years ago and replaying Our Love and Twenty-Somethings endlessly for an entire summer. Up til then, I had never really listened to any songs with banjos so it was cool to hear them blend in seamlessly into my playlists. 

Since then, I haven't had the chance to catch-up with the progression of their music. I did however, know through Twitter that last year, they released an album called Folk Hop N' Roll. Despite having known this, I was still pretty astounded when I was finally exposed to their evolved sound. It always is interesting to dive into a new music when you're already at the show. 

While heading to the venue, I made it a point to check out at least a couple of their newer tunes just to catch a glimpse of what was to come. The two that stood out the most while I skimmed Spotify and also non-surprisingly some of the ones that stood out at the show itself were Suit and Jacket and Take It All Back 2.0. Admittedly since then, Suit and Jacket still hasn't left my head. I finally took the time to look up the lyrics for it a couple days ago and reading through the words has made me appreciate the song even more than I already was. 

Besides being introduced to their evolved sound, the crowd also got to rekindle with some fan-favorite covers. Let's just say when the first few chords of the ever so anthemic Mr. Brightside started playing, the sold-out mass went wild. In that single moment, the band managed to transport us back in time and woke up the early 2000s version of ourselves that were filled with too much angst for our own good. It was a rush in and of itself. 
And don't even get me started on the Booty Wurk cover. Those boys could out-twerk me any day. In fact, their moves were so damn good, I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one flabbergasted. Want proof of my astonishment? Look no further than the picture below. The crowd was going wild, and I couldn't stop my arms from shaking long enough to capture a picture still enough. 

All in all, it was a high-energy set. The title of their album perfectly encapsulated the heart and soul of the growth of their sound, and it was nothing short of a pleasure to be reintroduced to who they are as a band at this point in their career. 

This gig was my first time being part of press officially. All the other shows I've shot and attended were in smaller general admission venues didn't require a zoom lens, much less permission to bring in a DSLR. Having been to Orpheum previously, I knew that they were pretty strict with their camera policy so prior to the show, I knew that having a media pass was paramount. 

Truthfully, I was a ball of nerves during the process of acquiring the pass. Formulating words to essentially sell myself and tell others what I'm capable of is somewhat of a foreign concept for me still, but I'm glad that I tried and was able to get a response. 

As an introvert, I was admittedly nervous to leave my friends and essentially go the literal opposite of where they were in the venue. More than that, I was also flooded with anxiety at the thought of standing alongside the rest of the media. Let's just say I was hyper-aware of the fact that I, a 5'4 asian girl with a dinky Canon t5 equipped with a 75-300mm zoom lens, was standing in the midst of actual professionals with gear that would break my bank account. 

Despite all this -- despite the nervousness and self-consciousness, being able to stand among those guys was an honor. It didn't hurt that I came out of it with some of my all-time favorite gig photos that I've ever taken. Moreover, there was one particular moment that stands out from the rest. One moment that I recall vividly as being one of the most spectacular moments of the night (and even possibly in my lifetime). 
The moment was when the entire mass of people were waiting in bated breath and palpable anticipation for Kaleo to come on. It was pitch-black while the band was walking onstage and just before the lights came on and the sound kicked in, everything in my vision went in slow motion. 

There was a split moment where I saw the rest of the photographers pick up their cameras and aim their lenses in unison at the shadows in front of them, strikingly similar to soldiers simultaneously aiming their weapons at the start of a battle. That simple moment gave me chills and will be something that's guaranteed to be vividly memorized in the back of my brain til the end of time. Moral of the story: do what you're afraid to do because when you accomplish it, the feeling of conquering and the feeling of growth will be the greatest rush you could ever imagine. 

Finally, when Kaleo started playing, all my inhibitions were cast aside and I began to do what I love doing -- getting lost in art. Some people find that taking pictures during concerts are limiting their experience of being in the moment; I, on the other hand, have found time and time again that shooting does the exact opposite. Taking photos enhances not only my memory of the show, but also my overall enjoyment. Somehow, looking through a lens enables me to appreciate what's in front of me even more. 

Kaleo was unbelievably spectacular, and all synonymous words and terms that follow suit. JJ's voice is unparalleled to anyone's I've ever heard live before. That guy is on a whole different ballpark, seriously. His range and tone, his pitch and emotion were perfect in every way possible. I got chills, evidently. 

It was such a neat experience to hear their grittier sound reverberate throughout the lavish halls of the venue. The dichotomy was paradoxical and profoundly brought out the best in each other. I think what I like about Kaleo so much is how they're able to transition between their darker sound I can only inarticulately refer to as 'badass,' to their softer and calmer tunes in seemingly organic manner. One moment I'd feel like I was wearing a leather jacket stomping around a desert with a pistol, a proud-owner of a Harley-Davidson, and another moment, I'm in a rose-tinted montage of a summer filled with adventures way back when. 

Definitely so, my favorite moment from their set was when they played All The Pretty Girls. There's just something about that song that gets me feeling nostalgic for a summer I have yet to experience. Plus, it was an incomparable feeling getting the chance to sing the words "won't you lay me down" with a sold-out crowd as everyone swayed to the music.  

Truly, it was an unforgettable night and I'm glad I get to keep the memories in my back pocket.

Til the next gig!

Stay gold,


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