GWAR @ The RITZ Ybor – 2024

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I ventured over to The Ritz Ybor with my cameras all neatly cleaned and packed up in my trusty bag, all eager to capture the spectacle that is GWAR… naively without a poncho for me or any coverings for my cameras. Thankfully a fellow photographer had an extra camera covering (thanks Carolina, I owe you!). My hair and clothes… well, if you know GWAR then you know where this is going.

PreShow @ The Ritz on Mon, 17 Jun 2024. (Photo by James Zambon / James Zambon Photography / @_thejames)

I got to the stage just as Squid Pisser was going on. I can’t say much about their set, other than the crowd seemed to enjoy them. Apparently I’m not that metal. 

I was looking forward to seeing X-Cops. The theme of the band sounded comical and they lived up to every bit of that expectation. They had a solid metal sounds and a ridiculous stage presence made for a great warm-up to the main event.

Weedeater totally took me off guard. Dave Collins fronting on both vocals & base was incredibly animated and entertaining. I can’t wait to catch these guys again, in the meantime I have some albums to go buy. 

As I prepped my cameras and wrapped my fancy white camera lens in my luckily acquired camera poncho, I watched as the techs and roadies prepped their gear. They were rapidly dismantling the house’s soundboard and covering literally everything they could in visqueen to hide and protect it from the onslaught of a high pressure mist of bodily fluids that was sure to come.

That moment when you realize that you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time…..

From the moment GWAR took the stage, it was clear this was no ordinary concert. The Ritz Ybor’s intimate yet spacious venue provided the perfect setting for the band’s larger-than-life presence. Their elaborate costumes and outlandish stage props transformed the stage into a fantastical realm where the line between reality and fiction blurred.

Photographing GWAR is both a dream and a challenge. Their performance is a visual feast, with every moment offering a new and dynamic experience.

The crowd was as much a part of the show as the band itself. Fans, (ahem… Bohabs!) many dressed in their own homemade GWAR-inspired attire, were fully immersed in the experience. Their enthusiasm and raw energy fed into the band’s performance, creating a symbiotic relationship that was thrilling to witness and document. Capturing the expressions of awe, excitement, and sheer joy on their faces as GWAR spewed random (fake) bodily fluids onto the crowd added an amazing layer into the event. 

GWAR’s show at The Ritz Ybor was an exhilarating experience that transcended a typical concert. It was a visual and auditory onslaught that left the audience, and this photographer, thoroughly (covered in god-knows-what) entertained and wanting more. For any metal-head seeking a concert experience that is as visually captivating as it is musically intense, GWAR is an absolute must-see.

Band Members:

GWAR – Setlist

  • War Is All We Know
  • The Sordid Soliloquy of Sawborg Destructo
  • Mother Fucking Liar
  • You Can’t Kill Terror
  • Hail, Genocide!
  • The Cutter
  • Starving Gods (Death Whistle Suite)
  • Crack in the Egg
  • Completely Fucked
  • Immortal Corrupter
  • Maggots
  • Let Us Slay
  • Sonderkommando
  • Black and Huge
  • Berserker Mode
  • -Encores-
  • I, Bonesnapper
  • Sick of You
  • Fuck This Place

GWAR – Photos

Weedeater – Photos

X-Cops – Photos

Squid Pisser – Photos

The Reverend Horton Heat @ Jannus Live – 2024

I had high expectations for this show. I last caught The Reverend Horton Heat back in 2010 and somehow 14 years went by. In that time my friend Vicki managed to catch every single tour. Feeding off her excitement and my memories of that last show I was pretty amped up. TL;DR:  this show absolutely slayed my expectations. 

The Surfrajettes opened the show with their timeless sounds of surf rock. They’ve did an amazing job of setting the crowd up for The Reverend Horton Heat.

Calling Jim Heath the “godfather of modern rockabilly and psychobilly” is just about selling him short. The dude is amazing, and coupled with Jimbo Wallace, and Jonathan Jeter this show was a damned tour de force of rockabilly madness from start to finish. They opened up with Big Sky, and as I’m shooting the show from the pit I immediately heard the crowd fire up in cheers.

A standout moment from the night was a blistering rendition of “Martini Time”. 1) I love a good martini, and 2) this song is effing great!

The entire setlist was a well-curated mix of hits and deep cuts, showcasing the breadth of Reverend Horton Heat’s impressive catalog.

I’m a sucker for a good cover, if you couldn’t tell by my recent review of the Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies show, so when The Reverend closed out the show with their new cover of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” I lost my damn mind! 

The Reverend Horton Heat’s performance at Jannus Live was a testament to their enduring appeal and unparalleled talent. The band’s ability to captivate an audience with their unique sound and charismatic stage presence is a rare gift, and they delivered a show that will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the highlights of the year. 

Video of the encore at the end of the post!

This show was shot on assignment for 100% Rock Magazine

Links: The Reverend Horton Heat: official site. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

The Reverend Horton Heat – Setlist

  • Big Sky
  • Baddest
  • Whole/Life
  • WildestDreams
  • Teach
  • Three Days
  • Psychobilly
  • Big Red Rocket
  • 20 Flight Rock
  • Jimbo Song
  • Martini Time
  • Wrong Yo-Yo
  • Five-0
  • Big Little Baby
  • 400 Bucks
  • Galaxy
  • -ENCORES-
  • Rockin’ Bones
  • Bales
  • Ace of Spades (Motörhead)

The Reverend Horton Heat – Photos

The Surfragettes – Photos

Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies @ House of Blues, Orlando – 2024

Ultrabomb came onstage and immediately launched into their set with an explosive display of punk rock prowess getting the audience excited like only an old-school style punk rock band can. Not knowing much about them, but enjoying their sounds and performance, I was getting nostalgic about my teenage years listening to similar sounding bands the likes of Black Flag, and Hüsker Dü. So I was totally shocked with the covered “Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely” by Hüsker Dü. 

The Defiant’s frontman, Dicky Barrett, totally knows how to play to a crowd. He came on stage wearing a bright yellow “House of Blues – Event Staff” jacket, and sunglasses, and immediately got the energy flowing. By the time they left the stage the mosh pit was churning, and the fun atmosphere was set for the headliners.

To call Me First and the Gimme Gimmes a “superband” is selling them short. These guys are fun, funny, and incredibly musically talented. When I first heard them back in 1996 on a compilation album “Fat Music Vol 2, Survival of the Fattest” with their cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” I was hooked from then, and yet, somehow this was my first time seeing them live.

They took the stage and immediately fired into Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and the crowd went nuts. I could hear them screaming over the monitors, with my earplugs in. Their energy and banter, both between band members, and the audience continued throughout the evening. The incredibly fun covers, their musicality, the jokes, and the energy all made for one hell of a night.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes delivered a concert experience that was nothing short of unforgettable. I can’t wait for them to tour again!

Links: all my photos from this show, and link to House of Blues info page.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes links: official website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – photos

The Defiant – photos

Ultrabomb – photos

Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies – setlist

  • Jolene – Dolly Parton
  • Straight Up – Paula Abdul
  • Love Will Keep Us Together – Neil Sedaka
  • Karma Chameleon – Culture Club
  • Don’t Cry For Me Argentina – Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • (Ghost) Riders in the Sky – Stan Jones and his Death Valley Rangers
  • Sloop John B. – The Beach Boys
  • Me and Julio Down by the School Yard – Paul Simon
  • Nobody Does it Better – Carly Simon
  • Estos celos – Vincente Fernandez
  • Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
  • On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
  • Dancing Queen – ABBA
  • Mandy – Barry Manilow
  • Danny’s Song – Loggins & Messina
  • good 4 u – Olivia Rodrigo
  • All My Loving – The Beatles
  • Over the Rainbow – Harold Arlen
  • I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
  • Before the Next Teardrop Falls – Freddy Fernandez
  • Science Fiction / Double Feature – Richard O’Brien
  • Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) – Elton John
  • End of the Road – Boyz II Men

The Defiant – setlist

  • Everybody Loves Me
  • How We Got Away (The Might Mighty BossToneS cover)
  • One Reason or Another
  • These Shoes
  • We Make Drugs
  • No Nothing
  • As One
  • Where Did Lady Liberty Go
  • Where Were You
  • It Is Over
  • Dead Language

Ultrabomb – setlist

  • Time to Burn
  • Fear Your Gods
  • Doggo
  • ??
  • Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely (Hüsker Dü cover)
  • Stickman vs Hangman
  • Star
  • Like the Wind
  • New Day Rising (Hüsker Dü cover)

Stranger Sings – for The Straz Center

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“Stranger Sings,” a parody musical based on the hit series “Stranger Things,” delivered an engaging and hilarious preview performance at the Jaeb Theater in Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Uniquely performed “in the round”, combined with show’s blend of nostalgic 80s references, witty lyrics, and energetic choreography is captivating from start to finish.

The cast’s dynamic performances brought the beloved characters to life with a comedic twist, adding layers of humor while staying true to the essence of the original series. Standout performances included the actors portraying Eleven and Dustin, whose impeccable timing and charismatic presence drew the most laughs.

The production’s creative set design and vibrant costumes perfectly captured the retro aesthetic, immersing the audience in the quirky world of Hawkins, Indiana. The musical numbers were catchy and well-executed, with highlights including a humorous duet between Joyce and Hopper and a lively ensemble piece featuring the entire cast.

While the show maintained a light-hearted tone, it didn’t shy away from clever satire, offering a fresh and entertaining take on familiar storylines. “Stranger Sings” is a must-see for fans of “Stranger Things” and musical theater alike, promising a night of laughter and nostalgia.

Overall, the preview performance of “Stranger Sings” at the Jaeb Theater was a resounding success, setting high expectations for the show’s run. Its clever humor, talented cast, and nostalgic charm make it a delightful addition to Tampa’s theater scene.

Cast:

  • Hopper – Nickolaus Colon
  • Dustin – Jay Garcia
  • Barb Holland – Megan Griggs
  • Joyce and Will – Caroline Huerta
  • Steve and Jonathan – Kyle Mangold
  • Lucas – Patrick Saint Age
  • Mike – Nic Scott
  • Nancy and Eleven – Catie-Charlotte Warren

Photos

Ministry @ Jannus Live 2024

I’ve been a fan of Ministry since I was a teenager. On one hand, that feels like it was pretty recent. But on the other, looking back at their discography, it’s 12 albums. I think the first time I saw them play was in ’92 @ the University of New Orleans Lakefront. Fast forward to present day when I saw that they were touring again after what seems like at least 10 years I had to see them again. And they brought every bit of energy that I remember!

I got to Jannus Live about 20 minutes before Front Line Assembly started out the evening building up into a ton of energy with I.E.D. The crowd was already shoulder to shoulder and super pumped to get the energy going. Frontman Bill Leeb’s commanding presence and impassioned vocals held the audience captive, while the rest of the band delivered flawlessly executed performances that left no doubt as to why they are considered pioneers of the electro-industrial genre.

It was probably 2004 when I first heard of Gary Numan, strangely enough via a Basement Jaxx track. This was my first opportunity to see him live, and DAMN! That guy has got some stamina! Over 19 Albums and I-have-no-idea how many tours and shows, Gary Numan has an arsenal of compelling tracks to pick from and their set list hit a lot of my favorites including A Prayer for the Unborn. As much fun as I was having shooting the first 3 songs from the photo pit, I couldn’t wait to get out into the crowd and enjoy watching the show. 

Ministry… The setlist was a masterful blend of old and new, catering to die-hard fans and newcomers alike. They started off with one of my favorites from their new album: B.D.E., HOPIUMFORTHEMASSES. If you haven’t read the lyrics, give them a read.

Despite it being a Sunday night, the crowd showed no signs of slowing down. At some point my friend ran off for a second saying “I want to grab a drink before they play Jesus Built My Hotrod” and damn if they didn’t fire it up as soon as he was back! 

As the night drew to a close, Ministry returned for an encore that left jaws on the floor. The incredible energy of “So What” filled the air and people were screaming along – a fitting anthemic conclusion to a night of pure sonic mayhem.

In the end, Ministry at Jannus Live was more than just a concert—it was an experience: a journey into the heart of industrial metal, a sonic assault on the senses, and a testament to the enduring power of one of the genre’s most influential bands.

This show was shot on assignment for 100% Rock Magazine

Ministry Photos

Gary Neuman Photos

Front Line Assembly Photo

Set Times

  • 6:00 PM Doors
  • 7:00 PM Front Line Assembly
  • 8:00 PM Gary Numan
  • 9:30 PM Ministry

Ministry – Set List

  • B.D.E.
  • Just Stop Oil
  • Goddamn White Trash
  • New Religion
  • Alert Level
  • Broken System
  • N.W.O.
  • Just One Fix
  • The Missing
  • Deity
  • Stigmata
  • Thieves
  • Jesus Built My Hotrod
  • — Encore —
  • Burning Inside
  • So What

Gary Numan – Set List

  • Everything Comes Down to This
  • Halo
  • The Chosen
  • Metal
  • Pure
  • Love Hurt Bleed
  • Is This World Not Enough
  • Cars
  • Haunted
  • Pray for the Pain You Serve
  • My Name Is Ruin
  • A Prayer for the Unborn

Front Line Assembly – Set List

  • I.E.D.
  • Vigilante
  • Neologic Spasm
  • Plasticity
  • Deadened
  • Killing Grounds
  • Mindphaser
  • Millennium

The Beauty Queen of Leenanne – for Jobsite Theater

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I recently got to photograph the final dress rehearsal of Jobsite’s production of “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” in the intimate Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz center for the Preforming Arts. The close quarters of the venue amplified the tension and poignancy of Martin McDonagh’s biting script, drawing the audience deeply into the troubled lives of Maureen and her manipulative mother, Mag.

The compelling performance of Maureen’s simmering desperation (played by Katrina Stevenson), and Mag’s cunning malevolence (played by Roxanne Fay) were portrayed with striking intensity, making the audience feel like silent witnesses to their toxic co-dependency. And the monologue delivery of the letter from Pato (played by David Jenkins) under a single hard spotlight was captivating. The chemistry between all of the actors was palpable, enhancing the play’s dramatic impact.

The minimalist set design and subtle lighting effectively evoked the bleak, oppressive atmosphere of a remote Irish village, allowing the characters’ emotions to take center stage. This production’s thoughtful direction and pacing maintained a gripping suspense throughout, culminating in an unexpected climax that left this photographer shocked.

Its always a privilege to work with Jobsite Theater!!

Photos

Smoke & Lights – Photoshoot 2023

Smoke & Lights

Photoshoot 2023

Smoke, Lights, Camera! It’s that time of year again!

When: October 8th, Multiple time-slots available (these always fill up quickly)

Where: @ Aerial Dragons Studios in Tampa, FL

What: This is going to be a themed shoot using colored lighting and smoke machines. 

Sessions will be 25 minutes each and cost $200 + $20 gym/studio fee.

If you haven’t seen my aerial photography portrait work before, check out a few of my favorite photos that I’ve made on my portfolio page, and a few of the photos from last year’s session in this post.

Lyra

It’s going to be held Saturday September 24th at Aerial Dragons Studios in Tampa. Individual sessions are available starting at 1:00pm (more sessions will be added based on interest).

Aerial Dragons students: sign up in Momence. If you’re not a student at Aerial Dragons contact me for the available times.

Ground-work
Silks

What do I get?

  • Private 25 minute photo session on your chosen apparatus (silks, Lyra, trapeze, acro, something else?) 
  • Colored lighting of your choice 
  • 4 retouched high resolution photos (Info on editing vs retouching)
  • Additional photos are $40 each 
  • Unedited photos are not available for sale

On the day of the shoot:

  • Give yourself time to warm up before your session.
  • Show up before your session time “stage ready” with your makeup, hair, and costume ready to go.
  • 25 minutes might sound short but posing in the apparatus is totally different than just doing a trick, so be sure to practice your poses in advance!
Lyra

Overkill @ House of Blues Orlando 2024

I hadn’t seen Overkill since their “World of Hurt Tour” in like 1993 if I recall correctly. So I’m not exactly sure why I waited until the last minute to decide to make the drive over to Orlando to catch them play at the House of Blues.

Because I procrastinated that meant I didn’t have a press pass. That lead to a couple of things: I don’t have to write a review(!), no photo pit access, and no “cameras with detachable lenses” allowed. The first rule totally makes sense. But the camera rule is just dumb, and annoying. But, I also kinda get it; you don’t want 50 people swinging around telephoto lenses while everyone’s trying to enjoy the show.

Anyway… I couldn’t not take photos of one of my favorite metal bands, so I brought along my trusty “Tiny Sony”. A RX100 mk3. This camera is way better than it has any right to be. It’s 10 years old at this point, has a 20MP “one inch” sensor, a 24-70 f2.8 equivalent lens, and shoots at an amazing 10fps.

You’re probably not here to read about my camera choices, and technical specs on a 10 year old camera that you can’ t buy anymore. As Overkill says, “We don’t care what you say, fuck you!”

Overkill was, and still remains, one of the loudest shows that I’ve seen. These guys obviously love what they do. It shows in both their energy on stage and their interaction with the audience. They absolutely killed it!

See my full set of photos here. And for reference the page for the show info

Band links: Overkill: Official Site, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Overkill – Setlist

  • Scorched
  • Bring Me the Night
  • Electric Rattlesnake
  • Hello From the Gutter
  • Powersurge
  • Wicked Place
  • Coma
  • Horrorscope
  • Long Time Dyin’
  • The Surgeon
  • Ironbound
  • Elimination
  • -ENCORES-
  • Overkill
  • Rotten to the Core
  • Fuck You (The Subhumans cover)

Overkill – Photos

Exhorder – Photos

Heathen – Photos

Proper Portraits 2023

This photo session will be a return to some “traditional” portrait looks (like you see on this page & in my portfolio)

Sessions will be 25 minutes each and cost $200 + $20 gym/studio fee.
This is bookable via Aerial Dragons on MindBody. If you don’t have an account there message me on Insta and I’ll get you set up @_theJames

If you haven’t seen my aerial photography portrait work before, check out a few of my favorite photos on my portfolio page, and the photos on this page are from previous sessions.

What do I get?

  • Private 25 minute photo session on your chosen apparatus (silks, lyra, straps, trapeze, chains, acro, theatrical posing, something else?) 
  • Colored lighting of your choice (I’ve got dozens of colors to choose from) 
  • 4 retouched high resolution photos (Info on editing vs retouching)
  • Additional photos are $30 each 
  • Unedited photos are not available for sale

How to prepare:

  • Have a plan! Come in with 3 or 4 poses that you know well and have practiced
    • More isn’t better. You’ll be in & out of these poses a couple of times as we shoot & review the images
  • Practice your poses! I suggest that you take video of yourself in the poses that you have in mind for your session, and have a vision of what looks best to you. And if you can show me a screen grab when you show up for your session I can shoot with that in mind!
  • If you want to do an outfit change or apparatus change thats fine, we just need to plan that into your time

On the day of the shoot:

  • Give yourself time to warm up before your session
  • 25 minutes might sound short but posing in the apparatus is totally different than just doing a trick, so be sure to practice your poses in advance!
  • This is open to all skill levels, but this is not a “teaching / learning environment”
  • There will be an aerial coach there to help guide your posing and lines, but you need to have your poses planed and practiced beforehand
  • Show up “stage ready” with your makeup, hair, and costume/outfit ready to go
  • I will be shooting “tethered” to my computer so that we can review the images in real time… and give you a small break from posing
    • My typically workflow is: we’ll shoot a pose, review the images, make notes on how to improve the shot, shoot it again then move on to the next pose

Steel Panther @ Jannus Live – 2023

Band: Steel Panther, w/ Tragedy & Crobot

Venue: Jannus Live, St Pete, FL

Date: Saturday, March 11, 2023

Lets get an embarrassing fact out of the way in the beginning: I hadn’t heard of Steel Panther until fairly recently when a friend mentioned them, I saw that they were’ playing at Jannus Landing here in St Petersburg, FL… and I feel like I’ve lived an incomplete life until now. From start to finish, the show was an explosive and unforgettable experience!

Tragedy opened up the show. I had looked these guys up before the show so I was loosely familiar with what they’d play but I hadn’t actually listen to them. Hot damn! They’re right up my alley. Everything they played was fun, energetic and completely ridiculous! Their cover of The Weather Girls “Its Raining Men” opening up with Slayer’s “Raining Blood” caught me completely off-guard. And while I expected their cover of The Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” to be fun, I had no idea how much they’d absolutely kill it! 

Crobot followed them with a highly energetic set. Brandon Yeagley’s vocals and absolutely massive stage presence immediately drew me in. Their sound is kinda like Wolfmother meets Queens of the Stone Age but hard leaning on the Rock side of the sounds.  

Ok, Steel Panther… I don’t even know where to start. As soon as the lights dimmed and the crowd could make out the dim outlines of the band taking the stage, the crowd erupted into cheers and screams. Steel Panther wasted no time getting right into the music, launching into their signature brand of raunchy, high-energy rock and roll that had the audience bouncing and headbanging along.

The band’s musicianship was top-notch, with tight rhythms, blistering guitar solos, and soaring vocals that showcased the full range of their talents. But the main highlight was the consistent humor. Both in the song’s lyrics, and the band’s banter between songs. The comments they were throwing out about the inflatable sex dolls they had bouncing around the audience had me almost in tears. 

They played a bunch of their most popular songs that I expected to hear, like “All I Wanna do Is F**k”, and “Death to All but Metal”. But the most memorable song was when they pull up someone named “Mikey” from the crowd come on stage to play drums during their cover of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”.  I mean, thats an absolutely perfect song for these guys to cover. And whomever “Mikey” was, he killed it!

This show exemplified why Steel Panther is renowned for being one of the most entertaining acts in rock. I can’t wait to see them again! 

Steel Panther