My Favorite Concert Shots of 2015

Wicked Goddess Photography Best of 2015

2015 was a phenomenal year for music and music photography for me.

In 2015, I shot ALL of my top 5 favorite bands, and crossed two all-time favorites that I never thought I would get to shoot off of the bucket list.  I saw nearly all of my favorite bands play live, even if I didn’t get to shoot all of them. Also, I took the photo for a major label vinyl release, which is a HUGE honor.

Tenacious D Live

Last year I shot 101 bands, and this year I only shot 78, but that number excludes Ultimate Jam Night, and the Ronnie James Dio Memorial Concert, because I don’t even know how to count those performances.  I shot 14 Ultimate Jam Night shows, shooting everyone from Gilby Clarke to Leif Garrett.  My photography grew by leaps and bounds this year, due primarily to Ultimate Jam Night. It’s absolutely the best concert photography boot camp on earth.

I shot Mayhem Festival for the third year in a row, but this year it was the only festival I shot. Hopefully I will be back to shooting more festivals next year.

Picking my favorite shots of the year is tougher than ever.  While I know immediately what my number one shot is, I have way more than 10 shots that I feel should be favorites.  I could easily do a top 10 or even top 20 list of Ultimate Jam Night photos alone.

10. Butch Walker at Hollywood Forever’s Masonic Lodge

Butch Walker is one of my top five all time favorite artists, so when he announced three nights at Hollywood Forever, I knew I had to be there. The shows were poignant, emotional and cathartic. The Masonic Lodge doesn’t really have concert lighting, and there is no pit to shoot from, so getting photos wasn’t easy, but the shots I did get displayed Butch’s passionate performance, and capturing emotion is much more important to me than a little grain.

Butch Walker at Hollywood Forever Masonic Lodge

Butch Walker at Hollywood Forever Masonic Lodge


9. Gin Wigmore at the Troubadour

I love New Zealand artist Gin Wigmore, her Butch Walker-produced Gravel & Wine is an album I still play constantly. In 2013, I went to Warped primarily to catch her, but she went on super early that day and I got there right after her set was over. I consoled myself with a Black Sheep t-shirt, which states “Once You Go Black You Never Go Back,” leaving it too inappropriate to wear in public often.

She returned to the states this year on a small club tour, and I was thrilled to finally catch her live. I am not a fan of shooting at the Troubadour, there’s no pit and the lighting leaves a lot to be desired. But I do love this shot of Gin, where she is literally basking in the limelight.

Gin Wigmore at the Troubadour

Gin Wigmore at the Troubadour

8. The Sloths at the Satellite

The Sloths are a garage punk band resurrected from 60s obscurity by an article in Ugly Things. They are now touring to support their first full-length album, Back From the Grave, on Burger Records.

One of my oldest friends is their touring guitarist, so I checked out their show at the Satellite and was blown away by singer Tommy McLoughlin’s theatricality, mixing bits of magic in with the music. In this shot, Tommy was holding a lit lightbulb in his hand, which made for a unique, beautifully lit shot.

The Sloths at the Satellite

The Sloths at the Satellite

7. Liv Warfield at the Hollywood Bowl

I was not familiar with Liv Warfield before catching her opening for Heart at the Hollywood Bowl, but I was bowled over by her intense vocals and rock star bravado. She is a killer performer and I think this shot captured that quite nicely.

Liv Warfield at the Hollywood Bowl

Liv Warfield at the Hollywood Bowl

6. Tonya Kay at Ultimate Jam Night

Ultimate Jam Night always features a burlesque act at the start of Act II, so I have had the opportunity to shoot a few burlesque acts this year, and it’s a lot of fun. The best performer I have seen, and the most fun to watch, is Tonya Kay. She is crazy brilliant and inventive and does all sorts of cool, twisted things in her act. Her creepy clown act was one of the most disturbing things I have seen.

Tonya Kay at Ultimate Jam Night

Tonya Kay at Ultimate Jam Night

5. Wiz Khalifa at the Hollywood Bowl

I shot Wiz Khalifa on the Boys of Zummer tour where he co-headlined with Fall Out Boy. The lighting was great, his performance was full of energy, and I just love the framing on this shot.

Wiz Khalifa at the Hollywood Bowl

Wiz Khalifa at the Hollywood Bowl

4. All Time Low at the Grove

Sometimes when I shoot a band I am not familiar with, I totally fall in love with them. All Time Low is one of those bands. I first shot them at Epicenter in 2013, and loved their songs and their energy, and went home and bought their album. Now every time they come to town I try and see them.

I shot them earlier this year at the Palladium, but there something about the Palladium, and I never seem to love the photos I take there. So I picked up the Grove Summer Concert Series solely so I could shoot their acoustic show on the last night. And as luck would have it, I ended up shooting the whole show from the crowd, which allowed me to get an awesome moment like this hand shake between Alex and Jack.

All Time Low at the Grove

All Time Low at the Grove

3.  8mm at Ultimate Jam Night at Lucky Strike Live

There’s this thing about concert photography that I realized this year, if the band isn’t putting it out, in other words if they aren’t feeling it, just going through the motions, my camera and my photos reflect that.  A lackluster performance results in lackluster photos.  This year I shot one of my favorite bands, who I have shot before and got great results, and the photos this time were mediocre, because the band just wasn’t present.

I wasn’t familiar with 8mm before I saw them perform at Ultimate Jam Night, but every time I see them, I get great photos. Juliette Beaven is a fantastic performer, and I just love to shoot her.  I have several photos of her that could easily make my best of list this year, but in this one of her and her husband Sean, the love just shines through.

8mm at Ultimate Jam Night at Lucky Strike Live

8mm at Ultimate Jam Night at Lucky Strike Live

2. Danny Elfman at the Hollywood Bowl

I put in to shoot this as a lark, I wasn’t expecting to get approved. Only five photographers were credentialed to shoot this show, and I was one of them. I could literally pick dozens of photos from this night for this list. Photos of Danny with Catherine O’Hara, photos of Danny, Catherine, and Paul Reubens singing “Kidnap Sandy Claws,” photos of Danny reuniting with Steve Bartek from Oingo Boingo to play “Dead Man’s Party” on stage for the first time in twenty years….I got fantastic photos of them all.

My favorite photos are photos that show emotion or energy, when I capture more than just the person; the essence of the performance.  This is someone who had retired from performing live and you could see it all coming back, little by little, the joy and delight written all over his face.

Danny Elfman at the Hollywood Bowl

Danny Elfman at the Hollywood Bowl

1.  Foo Fighters at Love Ride 32

Foo Fighters are one of my top 5 favorite bands, and I was lucky enough to shoot them twice this year:  at the Forum and at Love Ride.  The Forum was a difficult shoot, the runway for Dave’s throne was huge and shooting was limited to the end of the runway.  I knew that shooting Dave on his throne would be a historic, one-time only deal, and was glad for the opportunity, and I did manage to get one great shot and several good ones, but I had a hunch that Love Ride would be a greater opportunity.  After all, I had shot Chevy Metal there in 2013 and got fabulous photos…it just required camping out all day.

The crowd at Lake Castaic was massive, only the hardcore Foo fans knew what they were in for when Chevy Metal played, but everyone knew that this was a Foo Fighters show.  By some magical stroke of luck though, I managed to get exactly the same spot near the front for the Foo Fighters show as I got for Chevy Metal.  I was shooting through the crowd though, and the crowd was rough, but since I could shoot the entire show, I managed to get the absolutely incredible shots that I had hoped for.  I could easily have several shots from this show on my list, but since I have limited it to one photo per band, this is my favorite shot, not only of the Foo Fighters, but probably my favorite shot period….at least for now.

Foo Fighters at Love Ride 32

Foo Fighters at Love Ride 32

Bands shot in 2015*

  1. Aaron Gillespie
  2. Alex Winston
  3. All Time Low (II)
  4. American Hitmen
  5. Andy Shauf
  6. Avid Dancer
  7. Bastille
  8. Bleachers
  9. Blondie
  10. Blue Oyster Cult
  11. Bob Log III
  12. BØRNS
  13. Brendan Eder Ensemble
  14. Brooke Eden
  15. Butch Walker (II)
  16. Cage the Elephant
  17. Cayucus
  18. Code Orange
  19. Danny Elfman
  20. Deap Vally
  21. Devil City Angels
  22. Devil Wears Prada
  23. Elle King
  24. Fall Out Boy
  25. Fell Runner
  26. FFS
  27. Foo Fighters (II)
  28. Fools Gold Daughter
  29. Frank Turner (IIIII)
  30. Gary Clark Jr.
  31. Gin Wigmore
  32. Gloriana
  33. Greg Holden
  34. Heart
  35. Hellyeah
  36. Holychild
  37. Imagine Dragons
  38. The Intelligence
  39. Issues
  40. Joywave
  41. Jungle Rot
  42. King Diamond
  43. Koo Koo Kanga Roo
  44. Lael Neale
  45. Laura Jane Grace
  46. Liv Warfield
  47. Lynyrd Skynyrd
  48. Machineheart
  49. Marianas Trench
  50. Mark Hoppus (DJ Set)
  51. Max
  52. Metric
  53. The Mowglis
  54. Neon Trees
  55. Night Terrors of 1927 (III)
  56. Of Monsters and Men
  57. Patrick Park
  58. Queensryche
  59. Replacements
  60. Saint Motel
  61. Sean Kelly
  62. Secret Someones
  63. Shattered Sun
  64. Sister Sin
  65. Skinny Lister
  66. Slayer
  67. The Sloths
  68. Social Distortion
  69. Steel Panther
  70. Sworn In
  71. Thy Art is Murder
  72. Together Pangea
  73. Tokio Hotel
  74. Walk the Moon
  75. Whitechapel
  76. William Beckett
  77. Wiz Khalifa
  78. XTRMST

* excluding Ultimate Jam Night performances

If you’re interested in more, here are my favorite concert shots of 2014.

About the author

Kathy Flynn

Kathy is a freelance music, event, and travel photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA.

Kathy started photographing bands in the early 80s, where she was a fixture on the L.A. rock scene. She returned to concert photography in 2011, starting Wicked Goddess Photography.

She is a regular contributor to Loudwire, Diffuser, National Rock Review, and Find Your Seen.

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