Best Cincy Concert Photos of 2014

Photo courtesy of Wayne Litmer

If you went to a live show in the Cincinnati area this year - chances are that you saw one of our many contributing photographers. 2014 was a year of variety - new venues, new talent, new festivals, and even a few new photographers. We take great pride in capturing the ever changing and ever growing music scene - and we hope you’ve had a chance to enjoy what this city has to offer! 

Here are a few of our photographers picks for their “Best of 2014.”

Kelly Painter Kampsen

Flaming Lips - KP Photography - 
The Flaming Lips at Bunbury Music Festival [Enter to win passes to 2015] - View full set of photos
I’ve been wanting to photograph The Flaming Lips ever since I saw them at Forecastle. They put on such a unique and amazing performance. This was a dream show! 

Alabama - KP Photography -
Alabama at Buckle Up Festival - View full set of photos
The rain came down the whole show. I tried to seize the opportunity to capture the drama and beauty in it. They took advantage of it the circumstance - and put on a great performance!

Edward Sharpe - KP Photography -
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes at Ohio River Throwdown - View full set of photos
It was the most beautiful day. After photographing, I sat in the lawn at Riverbend by myself. The sky was clear and the moon was bright. Edward Sharpe has a way of putting you in a trance. It’s a one of a kind experience. 

Buffalo Wabs - KP Photography -
Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle at The Whispering Beard Folk Festival - View full set of photos
This is the best local band at one of my favorite festivals. They played the late night show in the barn. You could barely move, but you had to dance and it was awesome. They never disappoint. Check out this video we made for them at Buckle Up!

The Wood Brothers - KP Photography -
The Wood Brothers at 20th Century Theatre -  View full set of photos
They are one of my favorite bands. I spent a lot of time at this show trying to capture the true essence of the band. I was very happy with the results. 

Matt Steffen

St Vincent - Matt Steffen -
St. Vincent at Bogart's - View full set of photos
This show was super challenging to shoot, there were at least 20 digitally controlled strobes on the stage.  I had to manually focus just to get anything and was lucky enough to come back with a few keepers.

Ziggy Marley - Matt Steffen -
Ziggy Marley at The Taft Theatre - View full set of photos
In the taft ballroom, it was hard to get a close cropped portrait of ziggy with all the movement.  I like the facial expression and unconventional framing of this one.

Flaming Lips - Matt Steffen - 
The Flaming Lips at Bunbury Music Festival [Enter to win passes to 2015] - View full set of photos
I've always wanted to shoot a flaming lips show, and when i finally got to, I was not disappointed.  It's wall to wall light, texture, and crazy.

Old Crow Medicine Show - Matt Steffen -
Old Crow Medicine Show at Buckle Up Music Festival - View full set of photos
Old Crow is always an entertaining show.  The hanging strings of mason jars filled with filament bulbs were the perfect compliment for the twilight sky as a backdrop.

Man Man - Matt Steffen -
Man Man at Bogart's - View full set of photos
Opening for Gogol Bordello, at Bogart’s, Man Man came out with some great, intense colored stage lighting and played a super frenetic show.  Just when I was packing in for the end of the third song, the singer jumped off his keyboard rig and landed face down right in front of me.

Brian Bruemmer

The Whigs - Brian Bruemmer -
The Whigs at The Southgate House Revival - View full set of photos
Not all of these are going to necessarily be my best shots, but my favorites.  Sometimes it’s a facial expression or lighting or just the concert as a whole that puts it on the list.  For The Whigs, it’s the shot of guitarist/singer Parker Gispert on his knees playing a guitar solo.  This was toward the end of the show, and I’m glad I was able to run up and snap the shot before the moment was over.

Ryan Adams - Brian Bruemmer - 
Ryan Adams at The Palace Theatre in Columbus - View full set of photos
Quite a few of these highlights also landed on my top 10 albums of the year list. Ryan Adams has released some of my favorite albums of all time and I’ve been a huge fan for over a decade.  Adams went on an indefinite hiatus in 2009 before I had the chance to see him live.  I had thought that my chance was gone, but after two years of silence Adams returned in 2011 with a surprise album of mellow acoustic songs called Ashes and Fire.  Another three years later brings us to now, with a new album and his first tour with a full band since 2009.  Needless to say I was pretty excited to see my current favorite artist and have the chance to photograph the show.  I was unaware that this was going to be a soundboard shoot so I wasn’t prepared with long enough glass to get very close, but I think the results turned out pretty well.

Wesley Bright & The Hi-Lites - Brian Bruemmer - 
Wesley Bright & The Hi-Lites at Nelsonville Music Festival - View full set of photos
Sometimes the most important thing about concert photography is luck – being in the right spot at the right time, having the right lens on, etc.  At Nelsonville Music Festival I was fortunate enough to be in the perfect situation to capture Wesley Bright of Wesley Bright & The Hi-Lites doing the splits on the catwalk at the front of the stage.

The War On Drugs - Brian Bruemmer - 
The War On Drugs at The 20th Century Theatre - View full set of photos
I love when I have the opportunity to photograph one of my favorite bands.  The War On Drugs's new album Lost In The Dream was my top album of the year and they put on a show that is a perfect representation of the album. It was a challenging show to shoot since the crowd was very full and there was no photo pit, but I had to include this because it was one of the most enjoyable shows I shot all year.

Chromeo - Brian Bruemmer - 
Chromeo at Midpoint Music Festival - View full set of photos
MPMF is always a great weekend of music and photography, especially with Washington Park as a venue for the past few years.  Chromeo had the whole park dancing like crazy as they play their neo-disco songs with a crazy light show.  I love this shot because the lighting almost makes the shot look monochromatic (albeit blue tinted).

Phil Dawson
I picked 5 shots from my time in Cincinnati & NKY this year, which were from artists that are classic 'road tested' rockers. No 'pop music gimmicks' to get the shutters clicking, and no desperate 'Glam-Horror-Scifi-etc' outfits to hide the lack of 'rock-a-bility'. There is still lots of good stuff around, and I hope these shots from three separate gigs reflect the feel of the shows put on by the artists – which is of course the prime objective of live music photography.

Vintage Trouble - Phil Dawson -
Vintage Trouble - View full set of photos

Vintage Trouble - Phil Dawson -
Vintage Trouble - View full set of photos

Supersuckers - Phil Dawson -
Supersuckers at Southgate House Revival - View full set of photos

Paul Weller - Phil Dawson -
Paul Weller at Bogart's - View full set of photos

Wayne Litmer

Rodney Crowell - Wayne Litmer -
Rodney Crowell @ The 20th Century Theatre - View full set of photos

Tower of Power - Wayne Litmer -
Tower Of Power at Riverbend Music Center - View full set of photos

Bunbury Music Festival - Wayne Litmer -
Bunbury Music Festival [Enter to win passes to 2015] - View full set of photos

Alison Krauss - Wayne Litmer -
Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglass at Buckle Up Music Festival - View full set of photos

Eli Young Band - Wayne Litmer -
Eli Young Band - View full set of photos 

Michael Kearns
I was fortunate enough to shoot a lot of big and a lot of great shows this year. My year end photos are not, however, of any of the big festival or arena shows that I covered. Rather, I've included shots from shows which are more personally meaningful to me. The shows blend together after a while- especially if you shoot as many as I did this year. What I do remember are seeing and shooting the people who have taught me what it means to be an artist; or who have gone out of their way to support me as an artist.

Mark Messerly - Michael Kearns -
Mark Messerly (WussyMesserly and Ewing)
Specifically, the first is a shot of Mark Messerly (Wussy, Messerly and Ewing). Mark and I have been to the wars together over the last ten years. He's a great friend and it's exciting as hell to see him getting his due on a national stage. 

Pike 27 - Michael Kearns -
Dave Purcell of Pike 27 at Northside Tavern - View full set of photos
The second shot is of Dave Purcell of Pike 27. Dave is also a long time friend who has also been supportive over the years. More than any other local artist I admire Dave's ability to keep his faith during dark days and dark times as well as his professionalism and lunch box work ethic. I love the way he includes all these qualities in Pike's raucous over the top shows. 

Wussy - Michael Kearns -
Chuck Cleaver of Wussy at Fountain Square - View full set of photos
The third shot is of Chuck Cleaver of Wussy.  As with Mark, it's great to see someone who has slaved for decades finally get his due on the national stage. On a personal level, I'm eternally grateful that Chuck took the time to teach me that Art isn't some mysterious process handed down from the Gods or muses but rather, is a craft which boils down to hard work. It's probably the most important lesson I've ever learned as an artist. Check out this behind the scenes account of Wussy's performance on CBS

Chris Knight - Michael Kearns -
Chris Knight at The Southgate House Revival - View full set of photos
The fourth shot is of Chris Knight. I don't know Chris and this was the first time I ever saw him. As much as anyone this year; however, he impressed me with his dedication to his singing songwriter craft, his heartfelt delivery and the intelligence of his lyrics. 

Rob Fetters - Michael Kearns -
Rob Fetters of psychodots at The Southgate House Revival - View full set of photos
The fifth shot is of Rob Fetters of psychodots. I've been watching Rob for over thirty years. I love his enthusiasm and I find it personally hopeful that he continues to rock as an old man, given that I'm ten minutes away from senility. 

Jacob Drabik

Astronautalis - Chromatic Anthem -
Astronautalis at The Taft Theatre - View full set of photos
When tech breaks, good artists adapt. Astronautalis and crew were not happy with the what the audience was hearing. Instead of stopping the show to troubleshoot the problem, they simply invited everyone one on stage where the monitors sounded perfect. The show was immediately more intimate, and it made for a very special night.

St Paul and the Broken Bones - Chromatic Anthem -
St. Paul and the Broken Bones at Midpoint Music Festival - View full set of photos
When good friend, mentor, and fellow photographer, Michael Kearns tells me to pay attention, I pay attention. So when he told me how impressed he was after covering St. Paul and the Broken Bones on a cold, snowy night last winter, I went out and bought their album. I feel in love with it, and ever since, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to see them live. When MPMF announced they were included in this years line-up, I was determined to be the first in line. St. Paul and the Broken Bones did not disappoint.

Ryan Montbleau - Chromatic Anthem -
Ryan Montbleau at The 20th Century Theatre - View full set of photos
I love this intimate and beautiful moment between Ryan Montbleau and an enrapt audience member.

Flogging Molly - Chromatic Anthem -
Flogging Molly at Bogart's - View full set of photos
As a huge Flogging Molly fan, I feel very fortunate to have shared this moment with with one of my favorite artists.

Reverend Horton Heat - Chromatic Anthem -
Reverend Horton Heat at Southgate House Revival - View full set of photos
I am thankful that I had the opportunity to to see and document Reverend Horton Heat in the Southgate House Revival Sanctuary. And I’m thankful for that really cool sign he brought along.

Quiet Life - Chromatic Anthem -
Quiet Life at Midpoint Music Festival - View full set of photos
One of the biggest surprises of this year’s MPMF was ducking into a packed Mr. Pitiful’s to hear the very talented band, Quiet Life. They sounded great, really engaged the crowd, and seemed to truly enjoy the set. I mean, look at this guy. He was so happy! 

Nikki Murray

Garciaphone - Nikki Murray -
Garciaphone at MOTR Pub - View full set of photos
This band is from France so I didn’t know what to expect in terms of sound. I was pleasantly surprised at their style and their friendliness.

Molly Sullivan - Nikki Murray -
Molly Sullivan at MOTR Pub - View full set of photos
First heard Molly sing when I went to see the No No Knots play. Her sound and smile are always captivating. Check out KT's Reality Check with Molly Sullivan.

Hank 3 - Nikki Murray -
Hank Williams III of Hank 3 at Southgate House Revival - View full set of photos
Being that there was no “safe zone” in the Sanctuary, I was a little nervous shooting in the loose crowd so I brought a bodyguard. The floor was rocking and the crowd was jumping, but they were pretty nice as I moved around and got my shots before slipping out the front door.

Lisa Walker of Wussy - Nikki Murray -
Lisa Walker of Wussy at Fountain Square (MPMF Indie Summer) - View full set of photos
Always a pleasure to shoot the photogenic and very talented band members of Wussy. They rocked the Square and drew in a pretty great crowd that Friday night.

Counting Crows - Nikki Murray -
Adam Duritz of Counting Crows at Horseshoe Casino - View full set of photos
It was my first experience shooting at the Horseshoe Casino and the crowd behind me was exceptionally friendly. I was shooting with a couple of very well-known and seasoned photographers and it was an honor to be there.

Over the past two years nearly 1,000 artists have been captured by our photographers in about 500 photo galleries on You can browse them all here.  


Behind the Scenes with Wussy 

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