Blonde Redhead – Fonda – 11-12-14 Blonde Redhead – Fonda – 11-12-14

Photos by Madelynn Elyse


There is a place in America that at its worst is not so different from the gladiator pits of Rome.  I am referring to – of course – the Photo Pit.  There can be no more vicious, cut-throat ensemble than the photographers in a packed photo pit, and this night I was one of them.  Wednesday night at the Fonda was the very spot where the most aggressive photographers had gathered and Blonde Redhead was the subject.  Now, Blonde Redhead are a legendary band… and they are a dream to photograph, with passionate movements that make for countless snapshots that are each amazing.  And I was there to do what I do, with all my expensive equipment in hand.  Another photographer bumped into me, nearly spilling her coors light all over my camera.  “Sorry,” I said sweetly.  “I don’t want beer spilt on my…”

“Fuck you!”  She said, swigging her Coors.

There is nothing worse than a belligerent photographer.  I should know.  It is drunken flights of photographic fancy that lead to blurry shots of Prince or the swelling mass of Kim Kardashian’s ass.  Best to avoid drinking when photographing.  It leads to bad things.

I distanced myself from the Coors Light Princess and stood by in the dark, awaiting Blonde Redhead.  And let me tell you: a funny thing happened.  I could feel the anticipation.  Maybe it was the collectively antsy energy of all the photographers, or the sizzling conversations of the audience beyond the curtain.  Wherever it came from, it was palpable.  I got the chills.  The hair stood at the back of my neck.  I was excited in a way that I – a frequenter of shows – rarely experience.

And then the band began to play….

Blonde Redhead chose to begin their night in near darkness, with the faintest of blue spotlights splashing against their backs and haloing them with sapphire light.  Their set began with a duet between guitarist Amedio Pace and Kazu Makino, who began her set on keys.  The intro was a tone setter: an ethereal experience of sonic lights and shadows.  As soon as drummer Simone Pace first struck his bass drum, the haunting intro collapsed into jagged drum rhythms that barreled forward like a locomotive.  I felt nearly giddy being so close to the front, hearing the true tone of Amedio’s guitar amp and the punch of Simone’s drums.  The sound was like an wave, swelling from the ocean and crashing up at the ceiling.

Blonde Redhead enchanted the room and captivated the entire theater.  No easy feat, and one which I see rarely accomplished at the Fonda.  Kudos to the band, who’ve continued to be groundbreaking since their inception in the 90’s.  Few bands from that era still incur the adoration of so many fans.  They are truly talented artists whose relevancy has only increased with age, like a fine wine.

I left the Fonda that night with a new found appreciation for Blonde Redhead.  And a new appreciation for their latest record, Barragan, which has been playing in my tiny apartment since I got home that night.  The show was beautiful and the music was haunting:  as far as I’m concerned, that is the perfect mixture.

I do wish – however – I would have been able to enjoy the show from the audiences’ perspective, rather than stuck in the Photo Pit.  Perhaps I could have been spared my run-in with the Coors Light Princess.  However, I suspect that no matter which spot in the Fonda you were standing, Blonde Redhead was right there, bewitching you with their music and their mystery.

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