On the evening of July 12th, I jetted over from photographing a hip hop group down at the Seaport to Irving Plaza to catch FILTER. The genius that came up with the idea of a double header with Fuel and Filter deserves a kiss. Some of the mashups today are a bit of a stretch.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it in time for Fuel’s set, but I did catch the last song. I didn’t really follow Fuel passed their album “Something Like Human”, but I’ve listened to “Shimmer” a pathological number of times. Who doesn’t melt hearing Brett Scallions sing, “She dreams a champagne dream, strawberry surprise, pink linen and white paper, lavender and cream, fields of butterflies, reality escapes her”? Sometimes I can be such a girl.
When I photograph musicians, I’m generally shooting the next generation. It’s invigorating, but dipping down memory lane to photograph a band you enjoyed as a 13 year old with your nose up against the TV screen is quite a treat.
Filter opened with Welcome to the Fold, the perfect greeting. Richard Patrick looked fit and happy, and his voice matched the pushing 20yr old sound of the recording. His voice goes from sweet to scream fluidly without strain. Filter won me over years ago, expressing the lovely hormonal teenage cocktail of emotions, all the anger and angst that we’ve come to know and love as “very 90s”. Even as a so-called grown up it was cathartic participating in the rebel yells during pleasers like Hey Man, Nice Shot, Welcome to the Fold and Best Things.
Patrick has an outstanding ability to immerse himself with the fans, he literally puts his body on the line, pouring himself out over the crowd, surfing like it was 1999. It’s 2012, so bands have to work harder than ever to connect with a dying and distracted audience. Bands have to show loyalty and not only tour, but create new music to keep fans interested. Even if the fans are still only holding onto the commercial glory days of the band, the new music is what keeps the band fresh and excited when they’re out performing.
During Filter’s heyday of hits I appreciated the songs, but didn’t delve deeper because in those days I was distracted by the baby pink and blue pop commodities. Forget bringing home a CD with a parental warning. So I got my rock fix from MTV and VH1 when music videos were on TV, and rock could still get through the mainstream. Take a Picture tugged on my heartstrings, the video felt like a melancholy teenage Disney ride. I finally got Short Bus and Titles of the Record in college. Stuck in Here , So Cool, I Will Lead You, and I’m Not the Only One were some of my favorites. Of the late 90s-early 2000s crop of “neo-grunge” bands, Filter always stood out from the rest. Filter’s mix of rock and electronic is tied to a very specific time, so it’s great that they’re still out there playing as hard as the early days. Every teenager (and adult) needs a “Hey Man Nice Shot” song to yell along to. Now that I don’t need permission, I’ll be getting Filter’s new album Gurney and the Burning Books.