When going through all the concert photos I took at the end of each year, I am always struck by the same thought: "Boy, are you LUCKY to be able to experience live music this way!" It's a great privilege to be able to be so close up -- closer than close with a zoom lens -- and to take on the challenge of capturing moments of performance that go by with lightning speed. Much conspires against you: poor lighting, fast stage movement/lack of stage movement, TALL PEOPLE IN FRONT, people bashing into you, shooting time restrictions, sweaty hot venues, and any number of technical failures. Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes it really doesn't. But most of the time I come away with good stuff.

You can't judge how well each shoot went down until you get back home and get the photos onto the computer and begin to edit. Many of them I turn into digital dust right away because of whatever combination of above failures. Then it's the task of selecting the few that I'll take into Photoshop to process. These are the three questions I ask: 1. Is it in focus and well-composed?; 2. Does it give a good feel of the performance? and; 3. Is it beautiful, and can I make it more beautiful with thoughtful editing? I take my time with each image because my biggest goal at the end of the whole event is to offer you concert photos that are worth your time to look at and enjoy. These are the 17 photos I took in 2017 that I loved the most, and I hope you love them, too. (Click on each image to enlarge, and amble over to my Flickr account to see more if you wish!)

(Me at work, Burger Boogaloo, Oakland, CA., 7/2/17. Photo by Johnny Samra)


(Click to enlarge, ho ho ho)


If you still get excited about things, like I do, there's nothing like the Christmas+birthday-like anticipation of an excellent live music event coming up. No concert is exactly like another, even for the "Hello (fill in the city)! Are you ready to ROCK??" type of gaseous entertainment providers I avoid. There's an element of unpredictability and the uniqueness of the performer/audience vibe that appeals to me as a Know-It-All™, because the experience of being musically surprised keeps me from being mildly insufferable and dustily long-winded with jaded one-upping back-in-MY-day tales, which hold as much value as a 20-year-old cat turd in a Ziplock bag.

So, it was with great glee that I polished up the ol' Canon Image Sucker and headed over to Seattle's Highline Bar to see three of my most-favorites play: Steal Shit Do Drugs, Dreamsalon, and ol' fren Lars Finberg. It was in fact a FrenFest™ as so many of the people I love and hang with showed up to support this extra-special show: Dreamsalon's last, and Lars Finberg's first in Seattle. Wait, now just hold up, Miss Supposed Know-It-All™, I hear you say, this Finberg character has played here umti-billions of times in The Intelligence and the A-Frames and with the Oh Sees and such! WELL, nitpickers, maybe so, but this is the first time he is appearing as LARS FINBERG, SELF, with his nifty three-piece combo, the Bakersfield Moonlighters, in support of his just-released "Moonlight Over Bakersfield" album on In The Red Records! I'm WAY into this record (as you might note), so to be able to hear the new songs played live was firing up my dopamine neurotransmitters and putting a giddy smile on my face.

Was my anticipation of happy surprises realized? CHECK BOX: YES. SSDD's set's surprise brought Pink Parts vocal powerhouse Nicki on guitar for their in-ya-face Stooges-style punk, and Dreamsalon absolutely rose to the challenge of a final performance and packed the Highline floor with fans for maybe the best set I've ever heard from them -- tight, powerful, just the right level of crazy. (Min, Matthew, and Craig are making plans to do more music, just not as Dreamsalon, so do not be too sad!) And Lars Finberg's new songs? Filled to the rim brimming with riffs I wish I could hold hands with I like them so much, notably stellar drumming from Fren Kaanan Tupper, and Finberg's signature mordant songs that sum up so much of the weirdness of being on the planet as a fallible human.

I was able to contain my joy enough to hold a camera steadily, which I see as part of my lifetime skill set. Click on each image to enlarge or click on the Flickr set link to see them in their native land. Thank you Highline, SSDD, Dreamsalon (salute), and Lars Finberg!