OK, it’s true. I had heard it from everyone, and I did believe them, but I always want to see for myself before having an opinion. The Foo Fighters are amazing live! Let me back up a second. Last Saturday Cal Jam 17 hit Glen Helen Amphitheater for a weekend of camping and music, and based on the feedback I have heard it was a huge success.
Part album release party for the Foo Fighters, and part just an old fashioned Rock ‘n Roll party, Cal Jam was spread across the Glen Helen grounds. The crowd was good, and overall the music was great – but there were a few standouts to me as well. Let’s start with the Foo Fighters – of course. Dave Grohl took the stage alone to kick off the set, and after welcoming everyone, and talking about the festival, he kicked in on his own with the rest of the band joining in shortly afterwards. These guys perform like few other bands, and there is a vibe of pure fun that comes from their show. I mean I know they do this a lot, it’s a job, they are performers, they tour etc. But I am here to tell you that the energy from this band is so authentic, it radiates fun.
The musicianship is amazingly tight, as you’d expect, and the songs are all hits… every single one. There were moments I almost forgot to photograph because I was watching and singing – which isn’t good since we were only allowed to photograph two songs instead of the usual three. There were so many photographers that they had to divide us into two groups, with two songs each.
The day was actually filled with music on three stages, and then at night everything moved to the main stage where a few bands really caught my attention. Queens of the Stone Age (pictured below) was the toughest to photograph due to restrictions on where we could stand, but the connection to the audience was great. Glad I was finally able to see these guys live.
Also on the main stage was Cage The Elephant, a band I had no idea I needed to photograph until Saturday, and now all I can think of is getting another chance at it. Wow, Just. Wow. I don’t think I have ever, and I mean ever, seen a more riveting performance on a stage. Matt Shultz (pictured below) is….. I am at a loss for words here… the most active performer I may have ever photographed, and I say that in the most amazing way. Just insanely good.
Don’t misunderstand me, the entire band is amazing to witness, and it’s the type of experience that you witness, and then talk about for a few days. Also, since I had not photographed this band before, I had no idea that they would allow us to photograph the entire set, instead of just the first three songs. Given that opportunity you take it, and you will see a lot of Cage The Elephant photos in the gallery below for that reason. The whole time I couldn’t stop thinking what fun it would have been to photograph these guys with All Access. As you can see below, there were a few of us photographers there.
Another standout to me was The Struts. Lead vocalist Luke Spiller (pictured below) is another standout front man. This band kind of made feel like I was going back in time. The performance, the sound, all just felt at home to me. I am embarrassed to admit that I was not familiar with them before Saturday, but now I am, and I am spreading the word as fast and far as I can. See them. See them ASAP.
I want to also mention Royal Blood and Japandroids (both pictured below). It’s rare to find really good three piece bands, but both of these are two member bands, and the sound they get is crazy. I mean I was familiar with both bands, I have played Royal Blood on the air on KCAL, but I actually didn’t know it was two members. What a great surprise.
The overall day was fantastic, and my take away from Cal Jam 17 is that it was a success. The staff pulled off an amazingly complex event while keeping smiles on their faces too – literally every staff member I met was super nice. That always makes a day of music all the better.
There is a gallery below of photos from the day, and while I couldn’t photograph every band the gallery includes the following bands:
Cage The Elephant
Queens of the Stone Age
All Images Copyright 2017 Steve Brazill, All Rights Reserved