Guest post by Kim Prior (and photos too)…
Ok, full disclosure… I am Friday People, because Friday at cons are fun and relaxing and I actually have time for food. And I’m there for Saturdays, for panels and ops and occasionally meet&greets. And yes, oh most definitely yes, I am a Sunday girl, because Jensen… and Jared… and ops and autographs, and did I mention Jensen?
But make no mistake, do not misunderstand – I am 1000% percent an SNS!Girl. Stephen hidden in the corner on the stage presents a challenge for me in terms of photography, and tbh, I love the challenge. I mostly fail, but by chuck I’m determined. And Borja off to the side, without a lot of facial expression but oozing emotion all the same, and that’s just fun to watch.
Sigh. And then there’s Billy. On the other side of the stage. Focused. Intense. Having fun. Loving every single second of the music and the stage and the crowd. High intensity jamming, or softer, slower, emotional fingering of the strings during the super-charged ballads. Listen, I don’t read fanfic, but for the love of chuck is there fic about Billy the Guitar-Playing-Rock-God? Hashtag allthegasms right here.
I started to write ‘another sigh’ or ‘big sigh’ but no, no, no sighs. All smiles. Because then there’s Rob, center stage, right where he belongs. Overflowing with excitement. Jammin. Singin. Bringing us to our feet one minute, and bringing us to our knees the next. Telling us that he loves us, and then soaking up our love for him. He is so fun to watch, so fun to photograph, and full disclosure…
I am SNS People. I am here to be blown away time after time after time by the show and the lights and the guests and the music – their music. I am 110% a LoudenSwain!Girl and yes, I am 2000% a Rob!Girl.
That said, I’ll just get right into the show highlights, m’kay?
Louden Swain opened the show with “Present Time,” a fun song that really gets the energy flowing and fills the room with excitement. They followed that with another high energy song in “Taxi Driver.”
My most favoritest-ever photographer, Chris Schmelke, joined the band for “Juliet.” I love to watch him engage in his other passion, playing that bass. He has so much fun on stage, and I love watching that.
Next up, Louden Swain slowed it down just a wee little bit by playing “This Is How.” I may not sing it from the rooftops – something I’m sure my seat mates appreciate – but you better believe I find my own voice in their lyrics and I settle into my view from behind the lens and yeah, yeah, yeah This. Is. How.
Ruth Connell joined the stage next to perform “#1 Crush.” I love that I’ve seen her sing several times because I’ve had this blessed opportunity to watch her confidence grow, and damn that’s a beautiful thing.
Louden Swain next performed “Worlds Collide” a slower, quieter song, almost haunting in its rhythms and lyrics. I find myself lulled into the gentle sway of the guitars, and then I’m on the edge of my seat as the music builds and the lyrics escalate… and then I’m back into the haunting sway of its final notes, played softly and slowly on the acoustic guitar. I either need a drink or a shower. Hashtag CollideIsAGasmToo
Next up was Kim Rhodes singing “Raise Hell.” I’m not familiar with this song, and it didn’t even matter. I didn’t care that I didn’t know the words because I was absolutely sucked into her passion and energy. She nailed it.
With Richard Speight Jr. on bass and Borja on keyboards, Louden Swain next performed “Leg Up,” a song that teeters on the edge between slow ballad and jamming rock song. Should I dance? Or soak in the lyrics? Okay, both.
Briana Buckmaster. First “River.” Then “Wave.” There is no way that I could ever write anything that would do her performance any measure of justice. Goosebumps, legit goosebumps. Hashtag QueenBri.
Following those two epic performances from Briana was the crowd favorite “Whipping Post.” I love love love watching the band play this song. I love watching them because they love playing it. Yes, the lyrics are gut wrenching, but the music is so full of energy and slow, low chords and it just builds and builds – and by the end, I might feel like I’m dyin but I also feel a twinge of hope, as if the music has propelled me forward and I can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel. Kinda like I might be tied to this here whipping post, but it ain’t gonna break me, ya know?
Sigh. Seriously, siiiiiigh. Jason Manns joined Rob and Billy for “Hallelujah.” The silky tone of Jason’s voice. The passionate tone of Rob’s voice. The melody. The harmony. The quiet guitar, echoing throughout the theater. The lyrics, dripping with heart ache and heart break. And I love that the audience is quiet, silent, allowing all the parts to drench their skin and fill up their souls. Hallelujah indeed.
Jason stayed on stage to sing “Slightest Thing” from the Station Breaks album. If you haven’t heard this one, lemme tell ya, Jason can sing. Holy Notes, Batman, I’m gonna really need that drink now.
Richard Speight Jr. was on stage next to perform “Sixteen Tons,” another song unfamiliar for me. And again, it didn’t matter. Richard was so obviously having so much fun, enjoying every word and every chord, and I just love seeing them enjoying these moments. Well done, sir, well done.
ETA: That song is a classic! I loved Richard and the band’s take on it (Lynn)
EATA: Also I love love love that shot of Richard and Billy and their dueling guitars. Mmm.
Things shuffled a bit on stage. Rob approached the mic. The soft twang of the guitar began. And there was a shuffle in the crowd, a quiet whisper that took over the theater. And Rob began “She Waits.” And he began to pour his heart into the song, to pour his heart into ours. And the fans, His Fans, the entirety of the audience, responded to his heartbreak and his pain and his love with a sea of lights to wrap him up with the most gentle but yet the tightest hug. We got you, Rob, we got you.
The only way to follow that emotional surge is to play “Momma’s Jam,” and if you don’t know the lyrics, for the love of chuck, google it. Not gonna lie, I definitely miss Matt Cohen for this song, but I also love that Kim, Briana and Ruth come out to help! The ladies bring the audience back to full-hype, high-energy, rock-n-roll status. I may or may not be dancing in my seat, and yes, that does make photography a wee bit more challenging.
The next song was amazing. No, literally, it was “Amazing.” This song is pure inspiration, from the first note all the way to the end. It is Motivation lyricized and musicfied. It is an explosion of inner thoughts, colliding against each other in raging waves of battle. Pull yourself up, look into that mirror, and scream it out loud – I. Am. The Captain. Of. My. Story.
The night ended with a surprise guest as Justin Guarini (of American Idol fame) joined everyone on the stage to sing “Let Love Rule.” And we got Rachel Miner onstage singing too, which was beyond awesome! I don’t want this night to end!
Additional coverage of PittCon coming soon!
just a mom with a camera.
(You can see more of Kim’s beautiful photos
in Family Don’t End With Blood, available at
the links on the home page here)