The blog of Calgary based photographer J. Dirom.

July Talk @ MacEwan Hall

July Talk

July Talk is one of those bands that can truly captivate an audience. With the contrast between the raspy vocals of Peter Dreimanis and the sweet voice of Leah Fay, along with an interpersonal dynamic and improvised theatrics between the two that is captivating. The two wasted no time immediately leaving the stage to stand on the speakers to great the capacity crowd at McEwan Hall. Dreimanis started the night off on keyboards as the band launched the set with “Picturing Love”, one of their offering of their latest album “Touch”. It was a heavily backlit affair as what spotlights shot out from the back of the stage, with a minimal front of house lighting. Yeah captivated the audience as she danced along with the music. July Talk is one of those band that I can honestly say has to been seen live, and are truly great performers and musicians.

Set for the night:

Picturing Love
Summer Dress
Johnny & Mary
Now I Know
Guns & Ammunition
Lola & Joseph
Strange Habit
Beck & Call
Push & Pull
Rationed Well
Blood & Honey
My Neck


Favorite Concert Photos of 2016

It is hard to believe how fast the year has gone. 2016 was a particularly hard year for me personally. From losing the outlet for my work, that ultimately keeps the studios lights on, after the sale of Corbis Images. As well as the direct effect on my family of the Fort McMurray fires, and by far the scariest, my father's health. These thing all had a affect on how I pictured things through the lens, but I had a great year working the Juno Awards, the inaugural YYC Music Awards, and of course the many talent artists I have had the privilege of working with in 2016.

I have to thank all the artists that have allowed me to photograph them throughout the past year, as well all my clients for your creative projects, and choosing me as your photographer. Most of all thank you to anyone has for a moment enjoyed a single photograph I have taken, wether you have realized it or not. If only for a moment one of my captures touched you, I am eternally grateful. 

On that note please enjoy my favourites from 2016 (shown in order of date taken).

Have a happy holiday season, and wishing you a happy a prosperous New Year!





NOFX + Pears @ MacEwan Hall

The roots of punk rock still run deep in Calgary. MacEwan Hall was at capacity with a sold out crowd there to take in Los Angles based punk rockers NoFX. After thirty plus years NoFX is still going strong, the crowd was pulsating awaiting Fat Mike and the rest of the crew to take the stage. Crowd surfing was happening among the crowd before the first note was even played. But what was different about this crowd was the number of young punk fans in the audience. I mean young, as I spoke to a man who had brought his seven year old son, as they both loved the music, the father from his skate days, and his seven year old in the now. There were dozens of similar stories this into the crowd. Lots of high fives for the young fans, as there was a comradery among the fans that was palatable.

NoFx and Pears would not disappoint with a high energy moshing good time. Fat Mike donned the sunglasses by the second song as he indicated they have been playing hard on the tour. With Trump being presidential-elect the day before and American NoFX, still firing on all cylinders, and a very young fans in attendence it seems like the perfect storm for a resurgence of punk.

A madhouse, tongue and check, and full of life.

If you have the chance check them out on this tour. You will no regret it.

Photos and words originally posted on Concert Addicts.

NoFX + Pears

Halestorm + Lita Ford + Dorothy @ MacEwan Hall – October 18th 2016

Halestorm + Lita For + Dorothy

The crowd had assembled to take in probably one of the most powerful lineup of female rockers that held center stage. Dorothy opened the night, a Los Angles based band, who for good reason were on the bands you should know list put out by the Rolling Stones. Dorothy’s smokey vocal are captivating, and gave a solid performance.

Up next was the legendary Lita Ford. Or as it was put by guitarist Patrick Kennison, “The Legendary Lita Fucking Ford!” Lita lit up the stage switching guitars that she jokingly pointed out kept getting bigger and bigger. As she went through her set Lita reminisced about writing with Lemmy Kilmister (we miss you Lemmy), and called for the crowd to hold up their phone for “Close Your Eyes Forever”. Notable was the drum solo by Bobby Rock, in which not only would he push over sides on his drum kit to near topple, but concluding with several headbutts causing the front of his kit to rock forward each time.

Finally for the night Halestorm took the stage. Fronted by the charismatic and vocally intense Lzzy Hale. Hale dominated center stage with her powerful voice, and flawless guitar work. The crowd was electric. Lzzy asked the crowd how many had seen there last show in Calgary, to which the crowd erupted in cheers. It had been just under a year since Halestorm had played the very same stage as they were on as openers for Three Days Grace. This time however, it was their show, and without a doubt, shredded the stage to the pleasure of all those in attendance. While the ladies ruled the night, I will note that Arejay Hale performances are phenomenal. Halestorm belted out the like of mz. Hyde, It’s Not You, Apocalyptic, Mayhem, Miss the Misery, and I am the Fire.

So here is to the powerful ladies of rock, and to the incredible amount of talent to share the stage in a single night!

Originally published via Concert Addicts

Against Me!

This was a busy night for me, in that I had to race across town to make it to the show. While on paper I should have had plenty of time, traffic never co-operates when time is of the essence. I was shooting Canadian Rock Legends Rush earlier in the evening at the Saddledome, thankfully they had no opening act, and luckily there were three openers for Against Me! This gave me the time I needed to get there, as it is a hike from parking on campus to the MacEwan Hall Ballroom.

I have to say that the energy was fantastic, and helped keep me going, as I was beat from my jog with a ton of gear to make it on time. Laura Jane Grace is simply charismatic on stage, but to be honest I have wanted to see her ever since seeing her interviewed on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight on 2014 which impressed the hell out of me. 

Anyways I hope you enjoy the photos which were originally published on Concert Addicts.

End of an Era: The Republik to Close their Doors

I pulled my Zippo lighter from my pocket, snapped my fingers to pop open the case. I shielded the lighter as sparks flew and the flame ignited. Simeon leaned forward to light his cigarette. It was time for a quick smoke before the show. You could still smoke in clubs back then, heck you still smoke on airplane, but outside was the place to be, the calm before the show in a then packed Republik. A place to grab a little fresh air, a quick escape from the wall to wall people inside the club, for myself Simeon Ross, Rich Ragany, and Robin Black. 

A show I will always remember. My first live show at the Republik. 

I look back at that show with a great deal of nostalgia. I don’t think many people remember the Ballroom Zombies, who were the opener that night. Those who do might remember a silver suit wearing lead singer in Robin Black, or at least remember the tasselled pasties he wore as he progressively stripped down during the set. Red Autumn Fall who headlined the show completely rocked the house with an energetic Simeon Ross. Wall to wall people, completely engrossed in the music. It was a party.

Throughout the years I saw numerous acts there from locals like Chixdiggit, to harcore skate punk band SNFU, and even Hole. 

More recently I had shot photographs there of Finnish folk metal Ensiferum. A concert that reminded me of the days of old as the venue turned into a giant mosh pit. Dangerous for photographers and their equipment, especially with no photo pit, but a hell of a good time for those there to enjoy the show.

I also recently sat down and talked with LA based Milo Greene, as they started off their headlining their tour promoting their new album ‘Control’, in which I picked up a clear vinyl copy of their latest musical offering. A fantastic album by they way.

On the local side of things bands like Cowpuncher, The Wisers, Kingdom of Few, 7’s Wild, Cron Goblin, have put on some fantastic performances there over the past several months.

It is hard to believe that Swervedriver, will be the last show that I ever see at this venue. I only hope that things that were scheduled for the Republik after the end of the month such as Northlane will find alternative venues, rather than the shows completely skipping town.

From my first to the last it has been over 25 years. I can’t help but feel a little lost, as for myself, and likely many others, I will miss the feelings and the memories that I have when I walk through those doors.

I will cherish all that I experienced there. 

The end of an era. 

July Talk @ The Coca Cola Covert Concert

Every year Coca Cola has a show prior to the Calgary Stampede to announce the lineup for the Coca Cola Concert Series. This year was now different. Openers for this years covert concert were none other than Toronto's July Talk. July Talk is a rock and fronted by Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay. The pair if you have not seen them, are a fantastic combination. They play off each other on stage, in almost a seductive tug of war. 

Leah Fay was on fire this particular night. She stole the show, hearts, and even a fan's cowboy hat, in good old Stampede style. 

You will have a change to see these guys soon, when the band returns to take the Coca Cola Stage, on July 10th. 

Make sure you get out there if you have the chance, as July Talk not only sound fantastic, but are just as fun act to watch.

Ensiferum - One Man Army

Ensiferum. Kilt clad Finnish Folk Metal band from Helsinki. I was lucky enough to catch up with them on the North American leg o f the One Man Army Tour. The intensity of the band was mirrored by the intensity of the fans.

This was case in which there was no barrier between the band and the crowd, which left me as photographer in the mix of things. Simply put a challenge. Little to no mobility, and for any of you that have ever been to a metal show, knows that the mosh pit emerges right by the stage. 

May favourite shot has to be the black and white of Sami Hinkka, as he plays directly up agains the crowd. Photo was taken with a Canon 24-70 f/2.8L out at the 24mm range. 

Sons of Fenrir Invade the Calgary Comic Expo

At this year's Calgary Comic Expo, as many of you know, I was there to display my airbrush and comic artwork on top of my photography. Naturally I had brought my camera, knowing given the chance that I would maybe get some good photos of some of the great cosplay costumes that are always there. What I didn't expect was the Sons of Fenrir.

This Calgary based Scandinavian Warband, was practicing there maneuvers, as I was making my way from my booth in the Big Four to the BMO to find Nat Jones. That in itself is a little serendipitous, as I love Nat's drawings of Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer. The Sons completely drew me in. While the mission was see Nat, and take photos of the many cosplayers that flock to the Comic Expo... I failed in that regard.

What time I did have away from the booth was consumed watching the Sons of Fenrir, and taking some quick photographs. 

All images were taken with the intent that I would be black and white images. Something about the portrayal of Scandinavian people and culture from 800-950 A.D. by the group, that screamed black and white to me. That and the gritty live steel combat.

If you have a chance check this group out. I promise you will not regret it. Beyond the live steel combat and maneuvers, their camp was something to behold. My only wish was that I had more time to spend watching as well as taking photos. 

You can find out more about the Sons of Fenrir and their upcoming "Raids" at

P.S. I did finally catch up with Nat on the final day of the show, so it was wins all the way around!

Helix - Bastard of the Blues

Helix is the iconic Canadian rock/metal band, boasting a long list of studio albums starting from their first in 1979. Shows like this excited to shoot, maybe due to the fact still listen to their 1984 album "Walkin' the Razors Edge" on the turntable, and honestly I am surprised I have not worn out the album, as I have worn out turntable needles playing it for sure. Brian Vollmer has been the mainstay of the band for it's 30 years of music history. Vollmer still belts it out with his raspy vocals, and unleashes his energy on the crowd. 

Dan Mangan

Vancouver baed and Juno Award winning Dan Mangan, graved the stage of the Jack Singer Concert Hall. This is probably one of the most challanging shows I have had to photograph in a long time.

Photography unfortunately is heavily dependent on light. For those of you who have shot concert photography know that, it is a challenge to shoot due to the large dynamic range. Manual is the only way to shoot, and getting your camera dialled in quickly is important with a three song limit in many cases.

The challenge here was the minimalistic lighting. To me it felt almost black. After the opening acts, to be honest it took me by surprise. I remember thinking to myself, they will get brighter as the music builds. They didn't.

Even wide open at 2.8 and 10,000 ISO it was still dark. But this is the challenge I love about this kind of shooting. I will be the first to admit, that I walked out of there thinking, that I might not have one shot that is even remotely usable. Some people might think it is crazy for me to admit that, but it is the truth. That fear tells me that I care about what I produce, and if you don't care about your output, in my opinion it is time for a change. Also it is a great opportunity for me to push my limits and grow a little more. Again the whole reason I love photography, and mores love concert photography.

But lets get back to Dan. Dan was phenomenal, smoke and minimalistic lighting matched the heavy tones. Which sounded phenomenal in the Jack Singer which is probably one of the best places to hear musicians live. I can't wait to get the opportunity to photograph Dan again, and revisit the Jack Singer Concert Hall.

Saga - Sagacity Tour

Saga has no shortage of material, as their latest offering "Sagacity" is from what put together is their 35th album. This was the last stop for Saga, before taking the tour over to Germany, where they have a very strong fan base. The crowd was  in full swing with some of Saga's older material, and while not so familiar with some of Saga's latest offerings, the crowd were excited with the new material. The band's performance was flawless, but that is what comes with over 30 years of performing, creating a wonderful night for the fans.

Northlane - Frozen Flame Tour

Northlane, was energetic and intense. One of the four bands opening for August Burns Red on the Frozen Flame Tour. The energy ramped up when they took the stage, as bodies hurled over the barrier exiting from the crowd surfing wave. At times when the band jumped on stage, the crowd would follow in unison, sending a rhythmic shockwave through the venue.