Funeral In My Headphones

“Instead of slashing my wrists, I just write a bunch of really crummy songs.” – Peter Steele, Ink19 interview

I remember it like it was yesterday: Freshman year of college, walking to work at the local elementary, World Coming Down spinning on my portable CD player.

It was 1999, and Type O Negative had a new album out – a gloomy, doom-filled prophecy. It was hard to get in to it at first, especially after the glam-goth love songs of October Rust.

Take “World Coming Down.” It’s basically a dirge, in rock form. Very hard to listen to sometimes. It’s sonic depression.

I remember walking to my job at the school, shuffling through the leaves, trying to make heads or tails of this funeral in my headphones. Everything’s wilting around me, I’m having trouble adjusting to life at college, the weather sucks, and here’s Pete in my ears singing a suicide note.

But now, all these years later, I play this album every autumn, and those slow, death-march songs stick. If you survive eight minutes in, the payoff is just fantastic. Peter Steele really was a fabulous song writer.


I feel like Florence + The Machine’s second album, Ceremonials, is probably perfect. Nearly every song on the album could be a single, and it’s full of hooks, melodies, and drama.

But get this: almost every song on the album is a video.

“Shake It Off,” above (and my favorite). “What the Water Gave Me.”

Lover to Lover.”

No Light, No Light.”

Never Let Me Go.”

And then there’s “Spectrum.”

Ceremonials is one of those albums where every song almost was a single. Six videos out of a 12-song album? Jiminy.

Brian Vander Ark Live

Brian Vander Ark is one of my musical heroes. He’s a local guy (from Grand Rapids, Michigan) who has worked awfully hard to get where he’s at.

It starts with The Verve Pipe, of course. Everyone’s heard The Big Hit, but the whole Verve Pipe catalog is great. I catch them (almost) every year in Ferndale, Michigan, for their holiday concert.

Brian takes his solo show on the road, and a few weeks back he came to Albion to perform at the restored Bohm Theatre.

Channing and Quinn joined him on stage for a few trio songs, too, and the whole show was really great. Brian snuck a few Verve Pipe songs into the set, and lot of his solo songs and covers.

He put on a great show for the audience that turned out on a spring Sunday evening, and it was great to shake hands with him before the show and introduce myself.

Tycho in Concert

I always describe Tycho as sounding like a day on a California beach set to music.

And not just the audio; their visuals tell a definite story. So I was pretty excited to see them last Friday in Royal Oak, Michigan, at the Royal Oak Music Theater.

For one, they don’t come to town very often. Heck, they don’t tour often. As soon as I saw they were heading to town, I snatched up a ticket.

But two, I love shooting live music, and any chance to photograph a band with such a visual vibe is an adventure.

Tycho did not disappoint. They drip with cool summer days, surf-side acoustics, and enveloping color and sound. They’re great musicians as well.

The problem? Concert goers who lit cigarettes and try to shove their way to the front row. I was second row, and felt a responsibility to those in front of me to help them enjoy the show unmolested. One 17 year old girl who tried wedging her way to the front, after a few shoves and blocks, called me “old” and said I looked like her dad. Fair enough – but you’re still not getting up front.

I’ll say I’ve never had a worse concert-going experience than I did at the Tycho show. The music and performance? Great. Perfect. The crowd? Miserable.

Still. Tick this one off the photographic bucket list.