We’ve all had that trip where you’re up all night because you cannot sleep and when you do fall asleep, it’s only for a few hours. Those are the trips with the best stories.
Welcome to my adventure to Denver, CO. My eyes glued to the window counting the minutes down to when we land. In a few days, I will be handling my biggest show to date, Zella Day at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Roughly six months ago, I was just a guy rolling through life. All it took was one show and it changed my life for the better. I took my mom’s old camera to the Downtown Food and Wine Festival in Orlando this past February to see my favorite band at the time. Little did I know, Michael Franti and Spearhead was opening and would be stealing the show faster than I could hit the shutter button.
After that night, this noob went in full force, going to any show possible, taking pictures of anybody who allowed me to, and soaking up every sentence for every video I watched to learn. Fast-forward to today and I’m with my new family Shows I Go To, with access to photograph Zella Day, an upcoming indie pop artist who is often compared to as a more upbeat Lana Del Ray.
Listening to her on my flight there made me realize that this will be more difficult than I anticipated, this girl sounds good. I was going to go and enjoy the show already but now knowing she has catchy, original music makes this more difficult than I had planned. You can’t dance and take pictures, it just doesn’t work like that.
The day of the show I woke up at 8:30 in the morning; my excitement and nerves got my body up. After a solid bite, it was time to get an Uber and head up to Morrison, CO. I got there early enough to enjoy what Red Rocks had to offer. It’s not just a breathtaking venue, you have the option to hike the trails around the venue, shop in a gift shop, or see some of the greats who’ve come to Colorado at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Hours felt like minutes, I blinked and the gates were open. Photographers went through a side entrance and I heard the beeping of the ticket scanners. After years of festivals and concerts, I know what that means. I was in.
After meeting with the management I got the normal rules, first three songs, no flash. Three songs means roughly 10-15 minutes and then you’re on your own shooting from the audience. We walked in stage left and I involuntarily lost my breath. This really is the most beautiful venue in the United States. Red Rocks has no actual photo pit; it’s so intimate we had to bend down and stay low so the first few rows could see.
When the music cut and the house lights went low, the excitement was bouncing off the rocks. The guys came out followed by Zella Day. She started singing “Sweet Ophelia” and I will never forget how clean and clear it was hearing the sound off the stage move up all 70 rows. That’s when I realized what I was doing and where I was doing it. You can’t stop shooting while you are in the pit, though I had to appreciate that later. I was there to capture the magic she creates onstage. Zella and the band went on a little earlier and had around an hour to please her current fans and make new ones. She made me a fan on the flight up here and after a whopping 15 songs later, Zella Day spread her message of positivity and love like butter on bread to ten-thousand others.
If you are not familiar with Zella Day, she’s very easy to get into. Some of my personal favorites are “Mustang Kids,” “Sweet Ophelia,” “1965,” and “Hypnotic.” She’s a precious flower in the indie pop world and will be hopefully coming to a city near you.
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Zella Day Live Review & Photos by Collen Pryor, Review edited by Matthew Weller.
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