Ed. note: Friend of Treeswingers Jonathan Hall gives us a first-person account of what it’s like to get caught up in a haze of pandas, teeny boppers and Starfucker.
It’s the loaded Friday night of Noise Pop and I am going to a Starfucker show for the first time. Words and phrases like “insane,” “cross-dressed” and “floor-bouncing” buzz in my ear.
I arrive early and do my best to blend in with the adolescent crowd leftover from Blackbird Blackbird. Eventually I settle in, upfront and early, only to realize I’m the only one in the front row old enough to drink the whiskey and ice that’s in my hand. As I down my plastic cup of booze and wait for the teenage dance carnage to begin, a brief flashlight guides the four lanky members of a group now known as the more radio-friendly STRFKR into position.
Photo: Taylor Soppe
On a night when San Franciscans peer at Amazonian tree frogs and uninterested caimans behind thick-paned glass with unironic PBR’s in hand, Jason Chung became the most scrutinized exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. Better known as Nosaj Thing, the Los Angeles beatmaster was the main attraction at the weekly Thursday menagerie, Nightlife, ringing in the event’s 21st birthday and the 2013 Noise Pop Festival.
If anything, it was a venue of low expectations. Thursday nights at the California Academy of Sciences are a time to sip an overpriced IPA after work, rub some sea cucumbers and maybe vibe to the musical act before the strict 10 PM close. Your night’s not going to be a bender. It’s certainly not Mighty or, for something more familiar to Chung, LA’s Low End Theory, where he refined his shadow-fed sounds in the witching hours of early Thursday mornings. Which is why Thursday’s Nightlife show was so odd. Removed from his familiar darkness and thrown into an 8:45 set between the Rainforest biodome and planetarium, Nosaj Thing was out of his element and he showed it.
Photo courtesy of Justin Hollar.
An old soul in modern times, Justin Hollar always loved music. He embraced The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, icons of a time period when the photographer was the artist and the camera his palette. Looking back, we remember of shots of John and Yoko in an Amsterdam Hilton or black and whites of Dylan breaking out the electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival. You can almost hear the boos emanating from the pictures. Through his viewfinder, a photographer was present yet hidden at the same time, less a voyeur and more a shutterbug historian in an era of burning draft cards, gunshots and experimentation.
So when Hollar found himself holding a camera instead of a guitar, he thought he’d try and rekindle the feel and emotions of a bygone time. The man behind the candid clicks, he spent two months on the road with Benjamin Curtis and Alejandra Deheza of School of Seven Bells. Logging 9,000 miles on a bus and 1,400 hours with SVIIB, Hollar travelled from Bismarck to Santa Barbara with the pair and captured their every moment. As the duo just released their third studio album Ghostory last month, the photographer has finished his own work, the masterfully compiled and edited photobook, SVIIB. With photographs of Curtis playing basketball or Deheza carrying her laundry, the book doesn’t just have your average stage shots. Rather, it contains truthful moments from the artists’ everyday happenings and recalls a period when photos made us fall in love with musicians just as much as their music.
Here are some of our favorite shots from Mr. Hollar: