Bad Bad Badlands by Liz Brown

The past month has been a whirlwind and crazy in the best way. I stumbled upon the opportunity to shoot LANY in Omaha a few weeks ago and due to the kindness of Lany fans, the blog post cleared 1000 view in less than a month. Insane. Thank you.

Bear with me for a moment as I back up. To give you perspective on how ridiculously unlikely and serendipitous Saturday was. It's a good story. Last fall, nearly a year to a day today, I drove back alone from Ann Arbor to Des Moines, mapping out coffee shops in larger cities along the way to break up my 9-hour drive. One of those coffee shops I found was Dagger Mountain. At the precise moment I walked in, I was the only customer, and thus struck up a conversation with the barista. In our conversation, we learned we had several uncommon places and events in common; and through that conversation, Matt and I became friends. When I traveled to LA, he introduced me via Instagram to his friend Steph. I tweeted a few weeks ago that I was looking to shoot LANY again with my friend Blake, but the Minneapolis date was sold out. Did anyone have any extra tickets? Steph knows Steve, who's on the Kinda Tour, and she introduced us via Twitter; and he got us set up to shoot the evening. And to make this story crazier, Blake and I only met about 6 months ago, via Instagram. I had never even heard of LANY before he introduced me to them. So this is all to say, yes, I did take these photos, but I can't take credit for much of this adventure. It's quite a bit of serendipity and even more generosity of other people. Thank you, LANY. Thank you, Steve and Steph. Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Blake. Thank you, LANY fans, you've welcomed me in so kindly this past month. These photos are for all of you.

Also, before I begin, there's a LANY/Halsey mashup Instagram account named "Bad Bad Badlands" and I thought the name was so clever that I used it for the blog post title, but it's not original to me.

Blake is my LANY roadtrip buddy. He's the same Blake who introduced me to LANY. None of this magic would've happened without him. He picked all the best music for the drive north and we explored Minneapolis most of the day, drinking coffee and eating 9 pieces of pizza and taking photos. He shot the show with me so be on the lookout for his photos! And he rocked overalls all day, which is basically an art, too.

While hanging out by my car and drinking cold brew coffee and weird beef jerky from Whole Foods, Blake and I saw Jake walk by. Naturally (nervously), I asked him for a portrait. He was quite kind and said yes. If you'd like to see portraits of all the boys, I have some here. If I was to get one portrait, though, it was lovely to get one of Jake because, as you'll see, most of the concert photos are of Paul. Primarily because there was no photo pit and from the spot I was posted up, Les was quite far away and Jake had a cymbal straight through the middle of his head. Even on my tipiest toes, with my camera up as high as I could reach, I could barely catch his face. Rather unfortunate, but what seems unfortunate is not always entirely so. I mean, it's still unfortunate that I didn't get many swell shots of Jake and Les. But. If there had been a photo pit, I would've only been able to shoot the first three songs and I would have missed shooting the surprise encore (more on that later). What seems unfortunate is not always so. Remember that.

With encouragement from Blake (I still get crazy nervous butterflies every time I approach a stranger to ask for a portrait), I took photos of the first block of LANY fans, most of whom had been waiting for hours, some since the prior day. Dedication. They were immensely kind and adorable. To keep this post from being dozens of photos long, I'm limiting it to mostly concert photos and a couple portraits. I'll have a general Minneapolis adventure post and a post entirely of fans in a bit. Deal? I promise I didn't forget about all your photos. You're beautiful humans. Speaking of beautiful humans, let's jump right in--shall we?

Doors opened at 6 and Transviolet took the stage at 7:15. They'll be in a separate post, too (I'm committing myself to a lot, I suppose), but meanwhile, these are photos from their Omaha show. LANY was slated to go on at 8:15, and took the stage around 8:25 to a room of screaming and the sound of Whitney Houston singing. 

More than perfect, I want my photos to feel real. Like you're there. If you were there, I hope you remember how it felt.

That's why many of these photos are in black and white. That's how a LANY concert feels. Deep and grainy and nostalgic and alive.

One girl (or perhaps a few) in line handed out cut bits of streamers and the whole group of them slipped the pieces of paper between their phone cases and phone lights. When "Pink Skies" began, they held up their phones, all glowing rosily across the high ceiling, like pink fireflies or stars. As the song goes, "it's better you and I, under pink skies." When the skies are gray and November, you create your own pink skies. "You'll want a photo of this," one girl to my right whispered to me before the song began. And I sure did.

The band left, but not moments later, they were back up the stairs for an encore. ILYSB. Then suddenly frontman Paul looked to his right, towards the stairs and door they'd just come out of and waved, motioned for someone to come up on stage, too. It was Halsey. I lost it. Everyone lost it. They sang "ILYSB" as a duet and it was everything you could hope for. Tumblr come to life in the best way. Because this was what made this tour date in particular stand out, what differentiated it from every other night, I've included quite a few photos of that moment.

To stunned, overjoyed, incredulous screams, Halsey left the stage. A few moments later, the LANY boys took a bow and, reaching out one last time towards the hands extended to them, left the stage as well.

Yea, babe, maybe love sucks sometimes. But LANY concerts sure don't. I like them lots.