Rock At Night’s Gus Samarco: the year 2017 in review

By Gus Samarco, Rock At Night Raleigh

A Re-Cap of 2017

I must say 2017 has been an incredible year for me, Concert Photography speaking.  I started the year by visiting my family in Brazil.  While in Brazil I was actually able to photograph an artist that I have worshiped for a very long time, from the days of Racer X– Paul Gilbert. Holy Mackerel, Batman! I even got my Flying Dog autographed and met the band which included Thomas Lang (what a class act ladies and gents) and Pete Griffin on bass, whom I latter on photographed again, with Tony MacAlpine, another monster Guitar Hero.

I Spent the first three months of the year in Brasilia, Brazil, my hometown. Brasilia is known as the “Brazilian Seattle” due to the number of great rock bands that came from the city during the 80’s. Brasilia has a great mix of original and cover bands all over town. You can see a different band pretty much every day and I had the chance of shooting a few of them and becoming good friends with some very high quality musicians. I made a mental note to write an article about the Brasilia Music scene.
Back in the US, I got to see Dinosaur Jr at the legendary Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC. and shoot J Mascis in front of a wall of Marshal amps that I love.
Next concert in April was Anthrax with Killswitch Engage, The Devil Wears Prada and Code Orange. Anthrax was the first band I was really looking forward to shoot and I was pretty excited to shoot my first of the Big Four. I have been listening to Anthrax since Spreading the Disease and it was good to see them with Joey on vocals. I had a blast shooting the concert with Anthrax who later reposted one of my pictures on their Instagram page. Even Jesse Leach reposted a picture I posted on Instagram during the show. It’s always pretty cool when that happens, folks.
May was the time for my first major festival of the year, Moogfest. Since the festival moved to Durham in 2016, it has been on my calendar. I’m lucky to have two major festivals in this area, the other being Hopscotch in September.
As a Photographer, Moogfest is a show of music and light. For myself, it’s always a surprise because I get to see a lot of great bands for the first time, meet people from across the country and work with a lot of great photographers. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I was only able to photograph one day of the festival in 2017, but I’ll definitely be back for 2018.
I had a busy Summer at my favorite local venue, the Red Hat Amphitheater starting with Silversun Pickups and Third Eye Blind, which is not what I usually listen to– and I had such a great time at their concerts with both bands showing a lot of love on social media after pictures were posted.
A week later I shot Slightly Stoopid  with Iration and J Boog, again not my favorite style of music, but I had an absolute blast. Big thanks for the bands, the venue and the organization for allowing us to not only photograph  the entire concert, but also being able to photograph from the crowd, which produced another portfolio worthy picture
Also, in June, I got to meet this new band that knocked my socks off. Owl Company turned out to be my favorite new band of 2017, even thought I didn’t get to shoot them yet, I had an interview and their latest album review here:
In July I shot photos of Gary Clark Jr and My Morning Jacket–and both bands produced new pictures for my portfolio. I was already a big fan of Gary Clark Jr’s music, so much raw talent, Gary Clark Jr’s music is magical. I also enjoyed seeing My Morning Jacket’s performing for the first time.
Next week my editor asked me if I could cover a three-piece band from the UK, in the Backroom of the Cat’s Cradle. Like I didn’t have enough on my plate. Anything, anything for editor, son. Surprise, surprise, my editor is my mother of music and knows what I like. Boy, I had such a blast meeting Raven Eye, playing at one of the smallest venues in town, for an even smaller crowd, and OH BOY, let me tell you something about Raven Eye folks, they don’t care if there are 20 or 20 thousand people in the crowd, they pour every single ounce of energy on stage. This was the most powerful performance of the year for me. Ollie, Aaron and Adam are real class acts, incredible musicians and for Pete’s sake, heck of a performance crew.
The same week, I shot Primus and Clutch, also at the Red Hat Amphitheater.  I’ve been a fan of both bands for years but this would have been my first time shooting Primus, another band that was on my list.
Two days latter, the biggest event of the year for me, Fuckin’ Slayer, with Lamb of God. LoG’s performance was so bad ass I was trying to not overdo myself in the pit (after shooting the first 3 songs) before Slayer took the stage. Prior to Slayer taking the stage, the production briefed us about safety regarding the pyrotechnics, which made the 100 degree weather feel pretty mild for the rest of the show. Needless to say Slayer produced portfolio worth pictures.
Dude. I shot Slayer!!!!!!!!!! Slaaaaayyyyeeerrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!
August brought my good friends from Kyng to Raleigh again, this time with HellYeah. I met Eddie, Tony and Pepe from Kyng in 2016 when I shot them for the first time, and really liked their music. Those are some of the coolest people in rock that I had the pleasure to hang out with. Not only did I get to shoot the show, but the guys from Kyng signed my pictures from the year before. Also,  Pepe got the guys from Hellyeah to sign some shots which I also took the year before.  Heads up to Tom Maxwell for hanging outside Lincoln Theater and to Chad Gray for being such a supporter of my work on Instagram. Also, big shout out to the Australian Hellyeah Fanpage!!!
August and the summer ended on a heck’ of a high note with Greta Van Fleet playing a Sold Out show, on a Monday, at the Pour House. Greta Van Fleet is the next big thing, I said and say again. If you haven’t heard of this band, I’m sure you will very soon. Josh (vocals), Jake (guitar) and Sam (bass/keys) Kiszka, and Danny Wagner (drums) have a music background that started with their parents and passed to their DNA that would make most musicians envious. Greta Van Fleet starts 2018 with a number of dates in Europe and already have been confirmed for big name Festivals like Rock am Ring, Welcome to Rockville, Carolina Rebellion,  Rock on the Range, Hangout Music Festival, FloydFest AND Coachella
Here’s some historic piece of information for ya’. In 2014, I started shooting bands, in an effort to learn shooting in low light so I could apply for a credential to shoot Hopscotch. That’s right, I got into Concert Photography because of Hopscotch. All Rodney’s fault, but that’s a different story.
This year it was a special Hopscotch for me because I had just moved to Downtown Raleigh during the summer. In 2017 I had one of the top festivals in the country happening downstairs. This also marked the first year working for Etix during the festival. Hopscotch is as amazing as it is exhausting. With 120 bands playing during a 4 day festival, spread among 20 venues, you walk around just as much as you press the shutter. Regardless, it is an incredible experience, I highly recommend it.
This year I shot the likes of Future Islands, Kaytranada, Margo Price, Pallbearer, Totally Slow, Big Thief, Run the Jewels, Birds of Avalon and of course, my favorite Local Band, Jack The Radio. The week after Hopscotch, Crank Arm, one of my favorite local breweries, threw a big Anniversary Party with a nice outdoor stage and my favorite Local Band, Jack the Radio closed the night with a nice performance. It’s really cool to see local breweries in town throwing outdoor parties like that.























The week after Hopscotch, Crank Arm, one of my favorite local breweries, threw a big Anniversary Party with a nice outdoor stage and my favorite Local Band, Jack the Radio closed the night with a nice performance. It’s really cool to see local breweries in town throwing outdoor parties like that.








In the same week I shot another local band, Eric Scholz, at the Pour House. Eric is a little guy that has the blessing of singing with Bruce Springsteen voice, no joke folks, this guy sounds just like The Boss. My buddy Chris Salles plays bays with Eric. Curious fact: I let a beard grow after I met Chris at Hopscotch in 2014

I saw that the Newsboys would be playing at the Red Hat Amphitheater in September and applied for a photo pass. Unfortunately I didn’t hear back from their publicist, which happens sometimes and comes with the territory in this business. I was honestly a bit bummed out because the Newsboys actually have a place in my heart, together with DC Talk– and this show featured Newsboys with Michael Tait, former DC Talk, on the vocals. Anyway, since I wasn’t shooting the show I went to Tasty’s, a local bottle shop near my house, and the venue, to edit some more Hopscotch pictures. Then, three guys walked into a bar… they saw me editing Hopscotch pictures and asked if I took them. I said yes and they said” wow.” They were the Newsboys crew members on a break. I’ll omit the part when the Tour Manager walked into the same bar and I got all emotional, because I was going to shoot the Newsboys.
You might find this a bit confusing, I mean, how the heck’ someone enjoy listening to both Slayer and Newsboys? Here’s the short, I grew up in a traditional Baptist environment, during an era when Rock music was considered “Devil’s Music”, and boy, I was fascinated by rock, especially Metal, but couldn’t listen to bands that were not “Christian Music”. That’s when I discovered bands like Stryper, Deliverance, Mortification, Tourniquet, Rez Band, White Cross, Guardian, Petra, Newsboys, DC Talk, Bride and King’s X, and those were the bands that allowed me to listen to Rock Music for a number of years, and I hold those bands and very high regard.
Also, in September, I got to run into my buddy Pete Griffin, at my favorite Neighborhood Venue, The Pour House, this time with Guitar Hero, Tony MacAlpine. I remember the first time I listened to “Edge of Insanity” (The same friend played Vinnie Moore’s “Mind’s Eye” on the same day), and Agriona still has a place in my  Instrumental catalog. An interesting fact about Tony MacAlpine is when my friend first showed me this album, I was like “Man, this is great guitar playing” and then the Chopin song comes up and I’m like “Holy s#!t, who’s playing the piano?” The rest is history. BTW, I thing that was the same reaction Steve Vai had when he listened to Tony for the first time…
October came to an end, but not before bringing Living Colour into town. It was great to see them live. By growing up outside the US I didn’t have the chance to see a lot of the bands I grew up loving it.
I got to close 2017 and start 2018 with my friends from Jack the Radio at The Pour House with another great performance to ring the new year.
During 2017 I has the pleasure to interact with a number of artists, fans and photographers and that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Rock At Night and my super editor Chyrisse. Also, the folks from the Red Hat Amphitheater have been great to work with.
The Cat’s Cradle is a legendary venue in NC, and they bring a number of great artists that I have been too lazy to photography because I can’t walk to the venue (I know, I’m lazy), but that is changing for 2018.
The Pour House, however, is at spitting distance and I actually have to close the windows to avoid listening to the shows there, lately I have to take a different route home as the staff developed the habit of grabbing me from the street and throwing me inside and forcing me to drink Foothills IPA’s and listen to great music. I guess someone has to do that.
For the months I spent in Brazil, I’d have to write a whole new article to express my gratitude to so many musicians, promoters and business owners that welcomed me with open arms during that time. A notable mention to fellow concert photographers AND family by blood, Paulo Cavera @pccavera for the support and inspiration
Special Thanks to Heidi from HERFitz PR for all the great new opportunities in 2017.
Big shout out to the folks of Moogfest and Hopscotch for including me into the Media Roster for both Festivals.
That’s it for 2017 folks. Looking forward to 2018.
Gus Samarco
 The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without written permission to Rock At Night and the photographer. Use of any image is a violation of the United States and international Copyright law


Gus Samarco

Forest Live Festival – UK

Forest Live Festival – UK