The Pretty Reckless, currently on tour supporting the album Who You Selling For, stopped at the House of Blues in Orlando, FL on Friday, November 4th. I was approved for a photo pass for the show through The Pretty Reckless’ publicist 2 weeks ago and I was excited for this show. After getting completely confused by Disney Springs new layout and garages I finally parked and headed to The House of Blues. I wanted to get there early to get my pass and settle in. It was evident is The Pretty Reckless has a strong fan base. The line to get in was running around the building 90 minutes prior to doors opening and a good portion of people were wearing The Pretty Reckless band shirts or prior tour shirts. Considering the new album’s first single “Take Me Down” has recently beaten out Green Day and Metallica to claim the #1 spot on the rock charts, there should be a large crowd.
I ran into other photographers while collecting my credentials and learned two of them belong to the same Facebook photographer group. It was great to put real faces (instead of thumbnails) to names who are just as passionate about our trade as I am. After getting through security, who was afraid to handle my camera for fear of breaking it, we made our way to the entrance to the pit to prepare for the opener. We had some time before the first band went on stage so the group of us had a chance to talk about what to expect photographing The Pretty Reckless (more on that later) that night, other shows we’ve been photographing, and trading contact information, as we expected to see each other again at other shows. Glancing over at the House of Blues floor was an amazing sight. It was packed with people from the front to the back, something you rarely see for openers.
A little after 8 PM, security opened up the photographer pit and we all made our way down. If you’ve never photographed inside of the House of Blue’s pit, it is intimidating. The stage is about 6 feet high and when you’re as short as I am, you feel small in there. And sometimes you’re standing on your tippy toes just to get a little more height for some shots. I didn’t get too much time to think about it as the first band walked out on stage ready to rock the crowd.
Them Evils was the opener and they hit the crowd hard out the gate with “Bleed” from their self titled EP Them Evils. I immediately thought how their sound reminded me of Led Zepplin. Jordan Griffin’s vocals truly reminded me of Robert Plant, which is a great thing. There are very few singers who reaches the range Jordan can and it blends so well with their music. “She Got Nothin'” from their Cold Black Love album once again brings out that classic rock sound, which seems to be forgotten in this modern rock world. Bassist Jake Massanari and drummer David Delaney’s skills shine in this song.
Photographing them provided me with lots of purples and reds mixed together, which to me fit the 70s sound I kept relating to them. The gallery here shows some great pictures of Jordan and Jake headbanging together, long hair draped over their faces. Jake stood at the edge of the stage a lot, making it very easy for the photographers to get some great pictures of him. Jordan primarily stayed at the mic at the left of the stage sing and playing his guitar. David’s drum set was closer to the crowd than most bands so the photographers were able to get pictures of him without using a telescopic lens. I was fortunate enough to get David looking right at me when I snapped the shot.
After photographing through the three standard songs, all of us left the pit and I went into rock fan mode. “Put Your Love on Me”, also from their self titled EP, ripped through the crowd with its fast upbeat tempo and had the crowd banging their heads in unison. “Have One On Me” from Cold Black Love was hard not to get absorbed in with Jordan jamming hard on the guitar while belting out vocals. Them Evils closed out with a cover of “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead. The song is difficult to replicate correctly and Them Evils provided an amazing performance while staying true to their own sound.
Waiting is always the hardest part when I’m photographing, and this show was no different. I was looking forward to the next band, Holy White Hounds, who received stellar reviews from fellow photographers who photographed them. Thanks to social media and networking, word gets out quickly if a band is good or bad to photograph. The word on them is all good and they didn’t disappoint. Finally, security opened up the pit again and we made our way down waiting for the band to come on stage.
It was only a few minutes before the band walked out to the roar of the crowd. Brenton Dean, guitarist and lead vocalist, comes out apologizing they were running late because their other guitarist, James Manson, was being an asshole because he broke a guitar string before they went on stage. The crowd laughed, as did James, and right away I knew this wasn’t just a band, this was a family. Their bio on their official website will confirm the same.
Holy White Hounds started us off with “Black Lust” from their new Sparkle Sparkle album the a song that starts off quick and abruptly stops as if they started playing the wrong song. When it picks up again, the guitars, bass, and drum are in sync with a beat that quickly has the listeners grooving with them. A nice introduction to the identity of the Holy White Hounds. I kept trying to compare them to other bands, but couldn’t think of any off the top of my head. When I read their bio they’re compared to The Strokes and Queens of the Stone Age. I think the Holy White Hounds stand on their own.
Photographing them was a lot of fun. Lighting provided us a variety of colors from orange and yellows to blues and red and by the third song blues and greens. Brenton stayed by the edge a lot providing us some easy pictures with good lighting. James stayed on the opposite side also providing us easy opportunities for photos. Bassist Ambrose Lupercal stay in the back most of the time with his long curly hair covering most of his face. It was cool to catch him bopping his head forward and back and getting his hair in mid-movement (pic of this in the gallery). Drummer Seth Luloff was a little more difficult to catch due to his set being far from the crowd and not being lit very well.
The one thing I noticed was photographing their three songs went by very quickly, which is good and bad. Good because it meant the music was enjoyable making the time pass quickly. Bad because it meant we were getting out of the pit soon. Right before they ended “Blind”, Brenton kept introducing fictional characters to the stage that James would vocally mimic. Once again the crowd laughed and applauded the band’s interaction.
Three songs were gone and I made my way out of the pit and found a spot to stand watching the rest of the show. The played a song “Cheap Desires” which is a cover from a band called The Brave Youth. Apparently, the Holy White Hounds have been playing one of The Brave Youth’s songs during each of their sets on the tour. The rest of the set was just as enjoyable including “Oh Mama”and “Switchblade”, their debut single. Before they finished their set, Brenton spoke to the crowd saying how he knows the bad stuff Orlando has gone through and thanked them for taking the time to come out and support the bands. You can tell he was sincere and spoke from his heart. They finished to great applause from the crowd, and from me too.
I started feeling nervous as we waited for The Pretty Reckless to hit the stage. For me, this was my first national act at The House of Blues and I didn’t want to mess it up. I told the other photographers how I felt and they helped calm me down. We were only getting 2 songs to photograph, less than the standard, which is 3. So we didn’t have as much time to shoot. I had already did my researching knowing what the scene would be when they got on stage and it wasn’t going to be easy. Not at all.
Security opened the pit and we made our way in. There was a clock on stage and I noticed they had let us in very early, at least a good 10 minutes, which felt weird. A few moments later, Security came into the pit checking press passes and ended up kicking out two photographers. I didn’t realize until that moment some photographers were there under approval from one of the openers and not The Pretty Reckless, so those photographers weren’t authorized to shoot The Pretty Reckless. After watching them leave we stood in the pit and waited.
A few minutes after 10 PM the lights went down, the band started to come on stage, and when Taylor Momsen hit the stage, long leather jacket, and her hair covering her face, the crowd went ballistic. Within moments, the music to “Follow Me Down” started, the lights popped on, and we were off and running. From a photographic standpoint, the stage was dark, colors of blues and purples were our only lighting. I was able to snap off a few shots of Taylor and bassist Mark Damon. As usual, Taylor kept her hair in her face for most of the song. I did manage to snag a few pics of her face not covered by her hair. And then the strobe lights hit. I didn’t bother taking any shots when the strobes ran.
After one song down, they moved on to “Since You’re Gone” from their Light Me Up album. The lights went to bright yellow and orange, once again, not ideal for photographing. I snapped off as many shots as Taylor walked the stage when she sang. She moved over standing back to back with her guitarist, Ben Phillips, I held down the shutter hopefully to get at least one good shot of the two of them together. And just like that, our two songs were done and we made our way out of the pit.
I reviewed a few of my pictures to see how they came out while listening to The Pretty Reckless continuing their set. I got my camera back in my bag and watched the crowd for a moment. The floor was packed shoulder to shoulder, people moving in unison to the music, and smiling. The Pretty Reckless easily entertained this crowd because everyone was dying to see them. They played 3 songs off the Who You Selling For album “Oh My God”, “Take Me Down”, and “Living in the Storm”.
Unlike prior shows, The Pretty Reckless opted no acoustical performances and kept their music edgy, hard, and loud. Taylor truly riled up the crowd with “Heaven Knows” having them singing along word for word. This was a harder version than the recorded single and put a nice change of pace for the song. I truly enjoy when a band changes up a song a little. If a live band sounded like their CD at a show, I feel like I wasted my money. I want it to sound unique yet recognizable. The Pretty Reckless was delivering on both counts.
Taylor then pushed the crowd even further with “Going to Hell”. She emphatically urged the crowd to sing “I’m going to hell!” holding out the microphone towards them. The crowd responded as expected with a bellowing reply. At one point Taylor started swinging the microphone that I wondered if it would slip out and someone would get hit with it. It’s didn’t slip out and she finished off the song and then the set with “Take Me Down”. Once the set was done, drummer Jaime Perkins was left on stage to perform his entertaining drum solo. The rest of the band came out after as The Pretty Reckless finished with “Fucked Up World”.
Overall this is a solid showing by The Pretty Reckless on this “Who You Selling For” tour. Besides them giving fans a solid performance with song favorites and new ones from the album, they’re well supported by two great bands in Them Evils and Holy White Hounds. If you have the opportunity to see this tour, go, you won’t be disappointed.