Portugal. the Man Rocks Annenberg Space for Photography
From June 23 to October 7, the Annenberg Space for Photography hosts Who Shot Rock & Roll, a collection of pictures and prints produced by photographers who captured the essence of rock and roll’s pioneers in extraordinary ways. Saturday night, the Annenberg Space for Photography teamed up with KCRW to host the second leg of a three-part summer concert series to promote the exhibit. (We reviewed part one last week.) Showcasing the honest works of music photographers across the decades, the show is nothing short of raw, exuberant and legendary. In homage to renowned rock band T-Rex, Portugal. the Man performed.
Outside the A.S.P., the sun set on quite a scene–juxtaposing corporate and natural elements as it was set on a beautiful large lawn of green sandwiched between high-rise buildings. The stage was framed by a backdrop of LA’s hills. Romantic large globe-shaped lights dangled over the open space, and hippie folks covered the grass like a vibrating blanket of happy dancing bodies.
Upon entering the Annenberg building, visitors were introduced to the king of rock and roll – Elvis. A flat screen displayed his performance of “Heartbreak Hotel” on the Alan Freed Show. Further down the wall, Alfred Wertheimer showcased candid moments from his ten days with Elvis. He portrayed Elvis as “the kid” before he became “the King.” Essentially, this was how all of WSR&R’s legends began their journeys–as kids. Before they dominated stages and studios, they played in parks, drank in pubs, studied in schools, lived in small towns, worked dead-end jobs, and led lives that the majority of their listeners could relate to. This imagery made their journeys to stardom feel real.
The section labeled “Starting Out” broadcasted artists from The Rolling Stones and The Doors to Velvet Underground and The Ramones in their early stages, before anyone knew their true potential as music pioneers and revolutionaries. Following this was the “Portraits” area where artists were portrayed as individuals. LL Cool J stared straight out from the print of his emotionless face, James Brown revealed how his hair got that special curl behind stage, in 1974 Norman Seef captured Sly Stone and Kathy Silva kissing, and even Jay-Z chatted with Puff Daddy for a moment. These split seconds all depicted the artists behind the scenes, in their most natural elements.
Photographers such as David LaChapelle, Chris Stein, and Albert Watson defined the subsequent segment entitled “Constructing an Image.” Viewing Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eminem in their birthday suits revealed a lighthearted, comedic element to the otherwise intense side of their music. This proved that it was ultimately the photographer’s discretion to reveal a particular side of the musician which may have not been understood without said photo.
The exit hallway was lined with vinyl sleeves organized by decades. From David Bowie to Justin Timberlake, respect was paid where due for artists who have contributed and continue to enhance the world of rock and roll. From the video shorts to the slide shows and performance prints, each part of the exhibit was well worth seeing. It made the iconic rock legends more than just musical geniuses–it made them real people.
Portugal. the Man took to the stage with excitement and pride. The Alaska and Oregon natives were in awe of the large crowd drawn to the event. Kicking off their set with “Work All Day” and fan-favorite “So American” rolled in a powerful, mellow indie rock sound that was grungetastic and jammy in all the right ways. Utilizing the likes of tambourines, choreographed claps, and rowdy guitar riffs, the group brought the stage to life and got the relaxed audience to their feet.
The bass drum heavily panged through “The Devil” which safely transitioned into a cover of “Helter Skelter” at the breakdown of the song. They then took us a few years forward as they played out T-Rex’s “Children of the Revolution,” doing the song every bit of justice it deserved. Sparing no head banging at a tribute rock concert, PTM slammed into “Chicago” and hit the most climactic moment of the night. The repetitive nature at the end of the song calmed the otherwise face-thrashing pace of the tune. “The Sun” and “Senseless” kept the dancing going, but calmed the crowd quite a bit. They rounded out their bluesy set with the sweet dreamy melodies of “And I” as well as “Sleep Forever.”
Thanks to Los Angeles public radio station KCRW and the Annenberg Space for Photography, this live tribute experience and extensive parade of musical iconography is available to the public for one last free viewing and concert. Next taking place Saturday, August 4th, the space will host this event in which Raphael Saadiq and Band of Skulls will play live sets in honor of Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan. The affair is free, but it is recommended to RSVP ahead and arrive early because it will undoubtedly hit capacity again. This is worth the wait and not to be missed. Cheers to rock and roll doing its best work–causing quite the spectacle.
All Photography by Pamela Lin
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