The blog of Calgary based photographer J. Dirom.

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. 

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. 

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.