Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vanity Plates No. 4: Webshots

Text and photos © Robert Barry Francos, 2011

I had tried a few of the other Web photo hosting sites, and found problems with most of them. Sometimes the problems were minor, such as where the pictures were put up in the opposite order, you could not change the order once the pictures were on the site, or you could only load one at a time, but I found this to be frustrating because I wanted my photos to be in order so they could tell a story. Yes, sometimes I manipulate the order to tweak it, but most of the time, they’re chronologically correct within the event(s). There is one I had been using and was happy with it, but it was absorbed into another software, and became cumbersome and miserable (perhaps we can call it the MySpace Syndrome).

But I found a home with Webshots. I liked the ease with which the photos could be edited, and the large number it could hold. Heck, I even went for the $30 per year premium because I wanted to see the stats of all the viewings. With a click of a button, I can see how many photos have been viewed, which have been downloaded by the viewer, and where it stands in a particular category. Sure, since Webshots was bought out by American Greeting there have been issues, but I still find it better than what else I have found out there. They do charge to download (of which I receive nada), but the images are free to view.

My general site is here: , which has a total of 292,975 views as of date of this publishing.

So, here are the top half-dozen viewed folders from my Webshots collection, in ascending order:

No. 6: Peggy O'Neill's Xmas Show 12/10/05
10,396 views [Ranked 1,021 in the Music category]
One of the many great showcases put up by Brooklyn band, the Nerve! That December day in Coney Island, the Peggy O’Neil’s bar had a leaky pipe, so rather than use the stage, the bands played on the floor level to a very enthusiastic crowd (who appear in many photos, as well). The bands that performed, in order, are Inanimate Girl (young teens), Object (wonderful spousal duo who play guitar/vox and drums), Rubber Molding, Honest to a Fault, Hello Nurse (very physically active group who sounded good, but would send so many notices on MySpace – remember MySpace? – that I had to de-friend them, which was a shame), Good Grief (cousin guitar and drum twosome who had such a large sound that they appeared to be a full group if you closed your eyes; they were joined by a bassist that night, and did an all Nirvana set), the Marianne Pillsburys (way underrated all female pop punk band), SQNS (aka Status Quo No Show, who are big GG Allin fans; they cover “Bite It You Scum), and headliners The Nerve!, an excellent band. Most of these groups are gone now, having morphed into different forms, but it was an exciting evening.

No. 5: Wigstock 2005
11,264 views [Ranked 349 in the News category]
New York’s Wigstock was not just a drag show, it was the drag event of the year, and yet it is no longer staged. Held at Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, it was a ribald chance for the community (and fans) to get together and strut. Started by Lady Bunny, in part, she was still MC-ing it in 2005. Meanwhile, the Poisoned Aeros, a band based in Toronto, were in town, and we met up at the park and hung out all Wigstock day and had a blast. After, we went to Trash & Vaudeville and Dojo’s (which has since also bitten the dust). The photos reflect the show, the backstage, and the audience (which amazingly included little kids, despite the nudity and sexually suggestive language). Included in this folder’s photos are Lady Bunny, Perfidia, the Fabulous Floyd, Amnesia Sparkle, and of course Buckshot Bebee and Ro the Knife of the Aeros.

No. 4: 1970s Musicians I Have Photographed
12,655 views [Ranked 153 in Music category]
This is a loose collection of photos taken in clubs like CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City during the period of 1976-1979. There is a lot of see, such as the Ramones, Blondie, Dead Boys, Cramps, Heartbreakers, and other luminaries of the New York scene. There are both minor and major acts mixed together, including some of my AC/DC at CBGB shots. Before the days of everyone having a cell phone camera, it was rare to find people with 35mm capturing bands. Having started FFanzeen and the need for photos to accompany the articles, I talked my parents into buying me a camera, and the rest is, well, right here. Some day I’ll scan all these negatives, and hopefully produce a book of them.

No. 3: Dock Street Xmas Show 12/17/05
23,567 views [Ranked 312 in the Music category]
You may notice that quite a few of these are dated from 2005, but that’s surely because it takes time to get that many views. The Dock Street Xmas shows were run by Jay Miller, who fronted one of my favorite post-punk bands, Monty Love. Situated in Staten Island, Dock Street bar was consistently packed with fans (who were photogenic). Luckily, I had a “spot” to stand where the slammers couldn’t reach, and I could just enjoy the music as I snapped photos in relative safety. One good thing about getting there early was I got to see (and snap away) the whole setting up of the show. On this evening, in order of appearance, Victims of a Drive By (fronted by the ex-singer of the ska-laden Washington Riot), Shatter Me Silent (their last show), the screamo local legends Quantice Never Crashed (who had to change their name twice for legal reasons), local legends Folly, the amazing punk emo singer-songwriter Kevin Devine, and then Monty Love hit the stage for their high energy set.

No. 2: IPO Opening Night, Baggot Inn, NYC, 11/8/2007
37,995 views [Ranked 112 in the Celebrities category]
Since it’s inception by David Bash, the International Pop Overthrow shows have been not only gaining audiences in New York, but have toured around the US and Canada; now they even play other continents across the globe. Each year there are various shows with rotating artists that play to welcoming audiences. I feel lucky to have seen it at an early stage, and to see the artists performing, some of whom I’ve known for years. In order, they were the Voyces, Bibi Barber (her recordings are quite enjoyable), Jesse Bryson (and band), Jake Stigers and the Velvet Roots, the Dukes Jetty (from England), Twenty Cent Crush (which included guest bassist Nancy Street, who played in Cheap Perfume – and whose picture from back then appears in the 1970s Musicians folder), the Attorneys, and the Next Big Rave (consisting of theDave Rave, musician/rock historian Gary Pig Gold, and ex-Cheepskates leader Shane Faubert), who were joined for a few songs by Michael Mazzarella of the Rooks and Chris Mehos of the Big Up). It was an incredible evening.

No. 1: Monty Love Xmas Spectacular, 12/22/2006, Dock Street, Staten Island
38,820 views [Ranked 139 in the Music category]
The most viewed album is due in part, I’m sure, to some of the musicians that came to the show. Plus, many of the musicians who played are from Staten Island or close by, so there is definite hometown pride (S.I.N.Y., as they say). This was the last Monty Love show before they broke up (despite a couple of reunions gigs), and I was happy to be in the audience, as I’m a Monty Love fan, as well as liking many of the other groups playing that night. There is a very cool video of a few of the songs from the show on YouTube (search Monty Love Xmas Spectacular, and ignore the introductory minutes until the music truly starts). On tap that night were, again, in order, Racing Exit 13 (for those who don’t know, exit 13 on the New Jersey Turnpike leads to the Goethals Bridge, a major entrance way to Staten Island), rappers Bullfrog Reunion (meh), Dead Set on Destruction, Folly (yes, the same band as in No. 3, above; as I stated earlier, they have a very strong fan base), once again the legendary Kevin Devine (solo, without the Goddamn Band; he also used to front Miracle of 86) who shared a stage with cult fave Jesse Lacey (of Taking Back Sunday, the Rookie Lot, and Brand New), and lastly, the over-the-top energetic Monty Love. As the YouTube video shows, it was a great show, and Monty Love will be missed by many in the tri-state area.

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