Music has always been something substantial in my life, whether it was playing in bands or taking photos on and off-stage. It has been an incredible experience to be so involved in the Bay Area music scene as a photographer with RIFF.
From small clubs to a huge festival like Outside Lands, here are my 10 favorite concerts of 2018.
10. Johnny Marr at The Fillmore — Sept. 26
For me, a band’s emotional component plays a huge part in how I perceive its shows. Lovesickness, anger, sadness and joy stand out to me as I try to catch those moments of vulnerability on camera. Johnny Marr combined melancholy and political conviction at The Fillmore near the end of September. The Smiths are one of the most influential bands to my personal growth as a musician and as a person, and this was a special night to document.
9: Chvrches at Outside Lands — Aug. 11
Chvrches stood out above the many other artists I was able to photograph at Outside Lands. I didn’t go with too many expectations, so I could hardly believe the presence of bandleader Lauren Mayberry. The band’s musicianship and a stage show that depended attention combined for a great performance. Seeing them at an outdoor festival made me long for a proper show in a venue with a proper light show.
8. The Regrettes at The Chapel — Aug. 29
The Regrettes’ manifesto drives home the point that, fortunately, the future is feminine. Calling out the patriarchy with a kick in the head, the band represents the new generation of punk rock with a powerful message. The energy, presence and connection with the audience are what punk rock shows are all about, and I’ll be waiting for more like this one.
7. This Town Needs Guns at August Hall — June 24
This Town Needs Guns (TTNG) is everything I want from a mathrock and emo blend. The band sports complex drumming and guitar riffs alongside sparse bass lines and complemented by emotional and sentimentally nostalgic lyrics. This is a show that still rings in my ear, not only because TTNG is one of my favorite bands, but because it was able to fit so much emotion and fill the room with a relatively short set.
6. Jorja Smith at the Regency Ballroom — April 24
Jorja Smith has one of the most delightful and delicate voices nowadays, and everything around her performance was enchanting and bright. She seemed shy at first, but at the moment she started singing, everything changed. Her voice rose and fell like a tide of emotions all around her. She calmly performed at her own pace, with her incredible voice standing out above everything else the whole night.
It was my first time photographing Quicksand since I didn’t have the chance to shoot the band when I was in South America during its tour with the Deftones. However, it was my fourth time seeing Glassjaw, so I knew what to expect from Daryl Palumbo’s crew. Both bands stayed true to their roots, playing post-hardcore at its most intense and roughest.
4. Dream Wife at Cafe Du Nord — Oct. 9
BTCHKRFT and RUSSO were outstanding openers, but I became a fan of Dream Wife after shooting them. Their feminist garage punk has made it onto almost all my playlists. Rakel Mjöll owned the stage, dancing around and singing with a distinct Icelandic inflection. She clearly knows what she’s doing and the impact she creates. This, once again, showcased the feminine future of punk rock.
3. The Get Up Kids at Slim’s — June 24
The Get Up Kids played in my hometown a month after I moved to San Francisco in 2017, so I was really happy when they announced the Kicker Tour dates. I consider them to be emo legends that helped to shape the sound the genre would take. Being able to cover the band as they sang my favorite songs is something I’ll remember forever.
2. Dashboard Confessional at The Fillmore — April 17
Songs like “Vindicated,” “Screaming Infidelities” and “Hands Down” have been part of my life since they were released, and Dashboard Confessional is instrumental to the evolution of emo as a mainstream movement. It was impressive to see new fans of a band that has been doing something similar for 20 years—an audience of “30-year-old folks and 15-year-old kids” is how Chris Carrabba described them. Dashboard Confessional is more than the song it once wrote for the Spider Man 2 soundtrack. It’s a band that took me back to those passed days singing “Screaming Infidelities.”
1. Thrice at the Regency Ballroom — Nov. 2
The first time I saw Thrice, I was hoping the band would play “Red Sky,” but they didn’t. So, this night at the Regency Ballroom I wasn’t expecting it. When they did play it, I almost started to cry as I sang along with the band. When a band touches your heart like that it’s hard not to feel it in your gut. Thrice remains a very political band. The band played a lot of songs that reminded me how messed up the world can be and how messed up it was when those older songs were written. For me, this was an epic night of watching one of the most important bands in the post-hardcore scene still at the top of its game. If alt-rock has Radiohead, if nu-metal has the Deftones, post-hardcore has Thrice.
Follow photographer Joaquin Cabello at Instagram.com/joaquinxcabello.