January 12, 2020

Best of: Top 25: My favourite concert photos of 2019

As always, I can't separate the great performance from the great photo. Maybe someone else should go through my photos and look for the aesthetically best or technically best photos. As for me, here are my favourite 25 concert photos of 2019, from so many of the most amazing performances I was lucky enough to witness in 2019.

Thank you music, you may well have saved my life this year. Much love.

I have to send out a special thank you to all the wonderful industry people and artists who let me into the festivals and venues to make these photos and take in these shows, and to you for looking at the photos, reading my words, and listening to the music.

If you haven't checked them out yet, follow the links to my Favourite Songs of 2019 and Favourite Albums of 2019 posts. It was a great year for music!

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
July Talk are one of the best bands playing anywhere right now. They put on some of the most magnetic, engaging and empowering live shows. They're one of the most photogenic bands. No wonder they have two spots on this list. This is a shot of Leah Fay from July Talk's performance at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Dizzy is one of my favourite bands, one of my most seen performers and one of the bands I've photographed the most. Katie Munshaw is such an emotive and passionate singer and performer, I always get amazing photos. This is one from the band's performance at The Great Hall's Longboat Hall for the Wolfe Island Winter Ball

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
This is my most-liked photo of the year on Instagram, so it must be the best, right? This shot does capture Aimee Interrupter interacting appreciatively with the crowd at Rebel. The band's music is so positive and empowering, and their live show is so engaging and super-fun. I'd see them any and every time I get the opportunity. I caught them both at Rebel and at The Danforth Music Hall this year.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
My daughter turned me on to Naked Giants and I caught their live show at The Baby G. It was a super high energy and engrossing show. This is just one shot that captures the band's manic energy and intensity.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
I've loved Rancid since I first heard "Time Bomb". Their ska-punk style is energizing as is their live show. The jump shot is one of the pinnacles of concert photography and one that I consider something I pretty much suck at. But I seem to be getting better at it. This show at Rebel was one of the musical highlights of my year.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
PUP is an awesome band with great energy and they're so humble of their ascent to bigger and bigger shows, like this one at Echo Beach. I loved seeing Stefan Babcock riding this inflatable swan across the crowd. 
Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
I've caught three Yungblud shows so far. He's an unstoppable force. This last show was probably the hardest to capture because of his sheer energy and speed. There are so many cool shots from this show, it was hard to pick from. This moody shot from the very start of the show at The Danforth Music Hall turned out pretty good, I think. Click on through for the rest of my shots.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Here's another shot from July Talk's Budweiser Gardens show. This time it's Peter Dreimanis in a shot of moody intensity, fully consumed by the music.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Chvrches has maintained their status as one of my favourite bands. And they put on a fun and entertaining live show. I liked this shot of Lauren Mayberry from their most recent stop in Toronto at Rebel.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Here's another one of those hard-to-get jump shots from one of the masters of the scissor-jump. Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs are one of my favourite bands and definitely one of my most-seen bands. This shot from their show at The Garrison's birthday party captures the band's amazing live energy. And they seem to like it too!

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Luna Li is easily one of my favourite discoveries of 2019. I love everything about her music, her performance and her guitar playing. I love this shot of her in bliss at Royal Mountain Records BBQ. I really hope to catch more Luna Li shows soon and I really hope Royal Mountain Records puts on more of these awesome summer shows every year.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Drummers have it tough from a photography perspective. They're usually at the back of the stage, often in darkness and obscured by cymbals. I just had to include this shot of the Bob Mould Band's Jon Wurster from their show at The Phoenix Concert Theatre. Jon is an awesome drummer with amazing energy and always seems to be having a great time. This shot captures that.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
As I mentioned, a Yungblud show is an onslaught of energy and it's hard to tear your eyes and lens away from the man himself. However, there's lots of other fun going on with the rest of the band. This shot of guitarist Adam Warrington taking an innovative approach to in-song tuning is a moment I was happy I managed to capture from their Danforth Music Hall show. 

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
The Effens have become one of my favourite bands. I love their tunes, I love the live shows. This shot from a show at The Baby G captures the mood and energy of an Effens show. Check out their music and get yourself to one of their shows.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Haviah Mighty is an intense performer. She had a great year with many great performances and winning the Polaris Prize for her album 13th Floor.  This close-up shot of her performing at Royal Mountain Records BBQ captures that intensity quite nicely, I'd say.

Photo by Brad Goldstein for One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Photographer Brad Goldstein has been capturing some great shots for One In Ten Words. I love this awesomely composed and captured shot of Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard from their moist show at Echo Beach.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
SWMRS know how to impress with their live show. Their performance at The Phoenix Concert Theatre was easily one of the best live shows of 2019. I can't wait to hear what they come up with on their future albums and I know I want to be at all their future Toronto shows.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Reignwolf puts on an intense and engaging live show. At The Mod Club, he wasn't content to stay on stage to rock out. He came out into the crowd and wedged himself between the bar and the balcony. I love an artist who goes the extra kilometre to put on an unforgettable show.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
The Twilight Sad are one of my favourite bands. Their songs are so emotionally rich and enveloping. The live show, like this one at Velvet Underground, is where it comes together; the music surrounds and swirls around and consumes my emotions. I think I spent most of this show crying in the crowd. It was great and much-needed therapy after being disappointed to miss their other Toronto show earlier in the year. It's no wonder It Won’t Be Like This All the Time came in at number one on my Favourite Albums of 2019 list and "I'm Not Here [Missing Face]" came in at number five on my Favourite Songs of 2019 list.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Hollerado are an awesome, high-energy band with amazing power pop tunes. 2019 was the year that they'd call it quits and left us with some amazing shows. This one at Royal Mountain Records BBQ, where they were the surprise special guests, was an amazing show. I decided to put down the camera and enjoy their last-ever show at Danforth Music Hall show as a fan. Farewell, Hollerado, thanks for the tunes and all the best for a bright future of new adventures.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
There's something special about catching a rapidly up-and-coming band in an intimate venue and watching them win over a crowd. It was like that seeing The Anti-Queens play the Elora Legion at a Riverfest Elora afterparty. This band is amazing and I can't wait to see them ascend.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
Skinny Lister are always fun. This show at Rebel where they helped warm up the crowd for The Interrupters was awesome. It's always exciting to see bassist Scott Milsom toss around that double bass like it's nothing. And this time I didn't almost get it in the face. Haha. 

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
I've mentioned Dizzy a whole bunch on these virtual pages. This shot is from their sold-out show at The Mod Club. It's so amazing to see this band go from the first time I saw them at Hillside, to a sold-out show like this. I'm looking forward to more amazing music and shows from them as we go forward.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
I love live concerts. Could you guess? They're irreplaceable and unique moments in time that are always special. This shot from Telekinesis' show at The Drake Underground captures a special moment within a special moment where Michael Benjamin Lerner put on a solo performance of "I Saw Lightning". It's the song that the couple pictured used as their wedding song. Cool.

Photo by John Ordean at One In Ten Words oneintenwords.com toronto indie alternative live music blog concert photography pictures photos nikon d750 camera yyz photographer
The audience is an essential element in a great live show. Their energy feeds the band and a cycle is created that brings a show higher and higher. This shot from Chastity's show at The Rec Room captures that insane energy between band and audience. This show was also special because Alexisonfire showed up with their instruments for a surprise set to finish off the night.