The community out in Saxapahaw — an old cotton mill town on the Haw River, about 20 miles west of the Thrill — is doing some incredible things. Last night was the grand opening of the Haw River Ballroom, a massive live music venue in one of the old cotton mill buildings, all high ceilings and big windows and original brick and steel and wood. They celebrated with the Love Language and the Old Ceremony and a huge crowd, and it was lovely.
The great: the venue is gorgeous. The acoustics are spectacular and the sightlines, because of the two balconies, are all wonderful. And the lights, oh, the lights. The Haw River Ballroom has immediately taken over the title of best lights in the Triangle-ish area, because they’re perfect: strong white in the front, rotating color in back, no dark spots, even distribution. Shooting there was a dream.
The Love Language: I hadn’t seen them in forever, certainly not since they started to blow up fame-wise, and it was such a treat. I love Stu’s songwriting, hooks for days and rattling guitars and gorgeous keyboard lines, and they sounded tight and sharp and fierce. The crowd wasn’t too packed and I could worm my way up to the front and shoot Stu’s fascinating face in that clean, crisp light, and it was wonderful.
The bad: the single bar in the venue is tiny, and last night they had only one bartender working. The lines were insane. They’re going to have to do something about that if they want to stay viable. Also: parking. Saxapahaw is not much for parking, it’s a commute for almost everyone going to shows there, and with a draw like the Love Language and the Old Ceremony, parking was a bitch and a half and ended up being dangerous, to boot, because of where people wedged their cars out of desperation. So I’d like to see those things improved, but otherwise, it’s a lovely, lovely space, and hopefully I’ll see a lot more shows out there.
The weird: the bathroom I used didn’t have a mirror, so I had to take a photo of my feet for the self-portrait project.