Best Concert Photos of 2011

By my count I shot somewhere between 80 and 85 shows in 2011 (that’s counting SXSW as one gig each day). That’s down from the 120+ I shot last year, but overall I found this year’s pace much better for my sanity. This year will always have a special place in my heart because I got my first photos in Rolling Stone and SPIN Magazines. That’s been a goal of mine for a few years now, it was a great feeling to cross that off the to do list. I ended up with over 200 GB of photos for the year, which I have distilled down to my 30 favorite. All are in the slideshow at the bottom of this post, along with the Top 10 shown below:

WASHINGTON, DC - November 3rd, 2011 - Jay-Z performs at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. as part of the Watch The Throne tour with Kanye West.  (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post) (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

1) Jay-Z @ Verizon Center – Not the most used of my Watch The Throne images (more on that in a sec), but this was the shot that I immediately gravitated to when I was editing the set. The lighting and background are spot on. Jay was having so much fun during this show and I can totally feel that in this shot, he’s completely lost in the performance. Swag.

COLUMBIA, MD, - August 12th, 2011 - My Morning Jacket wow fans at Merriweather Post Pavilion with a 24 song, 3 hour set. The band is currently touring behind their sixth studio album, Circuital, which was released in May.  (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP) (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

2) Jim James of My Morning Jacket @ Merriweather – One of my favorite shots of the year was taken at the best show I saw all year. MMJ were so on at this show. They just started out on a tear and didn’t let up for 24 songs over 3 hours. Jim James is a head-banging fool and while I was clicking away I was thinking to myself, “please let me get one shot to portray the epic-ness happening at this show.” Done and done.

WASHINGTON, DC - November 11th, 2011 - Washington area native Dave Grohl performs with his band the Foo Fighters at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The show was the band's first area appearance behind their 2010 album Wasting Light.  (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post) (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

3) Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters @ Verizon Center - The stage at this show was 6 feet high, which made shooting incredibly difficult. Dave kept coming out onto this extended part of the stage and I could only get shots of his ass, but then he turned and I got a bit of his face just as the spotlight got a hold of him. I love that you can see all the sports banners in the ceiling.

COLUMBIA, MD, -September 10th, 2011 - Joel Thomas Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, is known for his over-the-top visuals during his performances. His headlining slot on the West Stage at the 2011 Virgin Mobile FreeFest bordered on sensory overload. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP). (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

4) Deadmau5 @ Virgin Mobile Freefest - Another borderline ridiculous shoot. We had to wait for a certain part of Deadmau5′s set to shoot him at the end of a very long day. We were perched on the soundboard and I decided rather than try and zoom in with my long lens, I would go wide and try and get the whole scene in the shot.

WASHINGTON, DC - November 3rd, 2011 - Chart-topping rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West perform their collaborative album Watch The Throne at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post) (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

5) Kanye West & Jay-Z @ Verizon Center- This shot was used all over the world, including a two page spread in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of SPIN.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - June 25th, 2011 - Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher brings his new band Beady Eye to Philadelphia on their  debut North American tour. The band released their first album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, earlier this year. (Phots by Kyle Gustafson) (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)

6) Beady Eye @ TLA – I was walking on air after shooting this show in Philly. I was less than 2 feet from Liam Gallagher and he looked at me once or twice. Plus they brought their own lighting equipment. Bonus.

AUSTIN, TX - March 18, 2011 - Rap Group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All perfrorm at the Fader Fort by Fiat during the 2011 South By Southwest Festival in Austin, TX. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson) (Kyle Gustafson)

7) Tyler the Creator @ SXSW – This show was fucking scary. They were kicking the photogs in the pit and talking all sorts of shit to us. I was worried about my gear and my safety. Once I had this shot, I got the fuck out of there. But hey, what’s a 2011 Best Of without a shot of Odd Future, right?

COLUMBIA, MD, - August 12th, 2011 - My Morning Jacket wow fans at Merriweather Post Pavilion with a 24 song, 3 hour set. The band is currently touring behind their sixth studio album, Circuital, which was released in May.  (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP) (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

8 ) My Morning Jacket @ Merriweather – 2011′s best show gets two photos in the Top 10. I generally don’t mess with the color of my photos, other than adjustments to the white balance to make everyone look like human beings, but the color on this shot was washed out because of the stage lighting, so a muted greyscale really did wonders for the exposure. I love that you can see 4 of the 5 band members in this shot. Plus, more epic hair action from Jim James.

FAIRFAX, VA - July 12th, 2011 - Kim Thayil, Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron of reunited grunge heavyweights Soundgarden perform at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA. The band reunited last year after a 12 year break and are currently writing new material for an album to be released in 2012.  (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post) (Photo by Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post)

9) Soundgarden @ Patriot Center – I was totally prepared to hate this show, but Chris Cornell & Co. really kicked ass at this show. It was a good reminder at how many great songs this band wrote in the 90′s.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - February 18th, 2011: Hot off their performance with Mumford & Sons and Bob Dylan at the Grammy Awards, The Avett Brothers perform in front of a sold out crowd at DAR Constitution Hall. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post) (Photo by Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post)

10) Scott Avett @ DAR  - Can’t say I am a fan of the Avett Bros., but this is still one of the best photos I took all year. Chris Cornell is jealous of this Jesus Christ Pose (and that background!).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a slideshow with the Top 30 images I took in 2011, featuring U2, Sugarland, Janelle Monae, Adele, BOB, Jack White, The Black Keys, Mumford & Sons and many more. Enjoy!


2011 Best Of – Images by Kyle Gustafson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>