March 27, 2009 – Fresh from conquering Austin and SXSW, NYC's own Semi Precious Weapons brought it home for a headlining concert under the big, beautiful lights of Blender Theater at Gramercy.
Playing to a crowd of die-hard fans and the newly initiated alike, SPW pulled out all the stops in a raucous, over-the-top spectacular of rock ‘n roll machismo, catwalk couture, and, above all, page six glamor.
Lead by the infamous Justin Tranter – jeweler to the stars, Perez Hilton's pal, and your favorite glam rock superhero – the band sold the crowd on one simple idea: that rock ‘n roll never looked so beautiful.
Dressed in thick-striped leggings, a black blazer, patent leather stilettos, tassled gloves, and adorned with chains from his own Fetty line, Tranter was the ringleader of the evenings spastic, gyring spectacle.
On stage, shedding clothing throughout the evening, Tranter appears simultaneous calculating and impetuous, flitting from rock ‘n roll despot to the audience's wide-eyed lover and then back in as many turns of the heel.
Axeman Stevy Pyne, dressed in a chartreuse Mandarin jacket, brought all the face-melting guitar love from his Les Paul, spraying riffs on his knees, on his back, and up on the wedges at the front of the stage, all with equal abandon.
All the while, Dan Crean banged out a savage beat to the circus in front of his spare, five-piece kit, quick on the sticks and splashy in all the right places.
Stage left, there was Cole Whittle – the boy raised by wolves – proof that nothing says chops like nailing a crushing bass solo while your megalomaniacal frontman drags you across the stage by your scalp. And, with all band members having studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music, you'd expect nothing less.
They've got the celebrity endorsements, the skills, and the look. Go see these guys; a minute into the eyeliner, thriftstore street glam, and high kicks, Semi Precious Weapons will have your heart, too.
Semi Precious Weapons are my favorite band to photograph. So much so, in fact, that I harbor small delusions about keeping them a secret from the rest of you fine folks. No offense, mind you.
Of course, there's no keeping something so rock ‘n roll hush hush. Not when singer Justin Tranter breaks into the splits and starts singing so sweetly that angels in heaven start to weep. And certainly not when I want my friends to have all the success in the world.
I've photographed Semi Precious Weapons half a dozen times since meeting up with them in 2007, and every single show has been a blast. Their big, headlining show at the Blender Theater was no different.
There was no pit at the venue, so I grabbed a piece of the stage front and center. This position put me in the prime spot to photograph the band's frontman, Justin Tranter. While it's hard to single out just one member of the band when the whole group is so animated on stage, as Tranter sings, he's been “magnetic since he was a baby.”
Last but not least, this concert was also a blast to photograph because it meant another opportunity to shoot with my brother, Chris Owyoung.
Yes, Chris is my brother. The rumors are true. I know what you're thinking – “Two Owyoungs who are concert photographers? And they're brothers?” It's nuts.
Chris is going to be posting some great stuff sometime soon, too, now that I've thrown down the gauntlet.
2009 is the year of Semi Precious Weapons. Love to my friends in SPW for being great subjects, as always. If you don't know them already, you will – good things are coming from these guys.
Also, big thanks to Shaun for helping coordinate everything. Shaun is really the fifth member of this band.
Lastly, stay tuned for promo shots Chris and I did with Semi Precious Weapons. I think you'll like them.