St. Paul and the Broken Bones. These guys have made quite the name for themselves the past few years. From selling out Alabama Theatre multiple times to playing a big spot in the SlossFest lineup last year to heading to New Zealand and Australia next week to play multiple large festivals. With a new album dropping sometime this year, things are only going to get more crazy.
They kicked off 2016 with an “Alabama World Tour.” Multiple shows around the state in amazing cities: Mobile, Montgomery, Florence, Dothan, Huntsville, Opelika, and of course Birmingham. They mentioned going into this that they weren’t doing this to sell out large venues, these would be tight, intimate shows with an up close and personal experience. Florence proved that.
2/12/16 FLORENCE, ALABAMA
I pulled up to the venue about an hour before doors opened and started talking to a couple who was standing outside. They mentioned that tickets to the Florence shows literally sold out in seconds. We had people walking up and talking about how they couldn’t find tickets the entire time we were in front of the venue. I heard rumors about the venue only holding a little more than a hundred people, but didn’t expect what I saw when the doors opened. Candles at the door and three lights above the stage, the merch table 25 feet from the stage, the bathroom literally right behind the stage…and that’s what made it incredible! Tough to shoot, but the show wasn’t for me as a photographer. The show was for the fans who waited until those limited tickets went on sale, and a show they received. I think Paul was in the crowd more than he was on the stage that night. There wasn’t a single complaint about that.
2/18/16 MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA
Round Two: Montgomery Performing Arts Centre. I left right after work that Thursday to make the hour drive down there. We had planned on shooting a press photo at this stop, so I walked around the venue for an hour prior to them getting ready, in search of a unique room or wall. I searched every single room in the building, but there was a whole lot of beige. We found a few cool walls though and made it happen.
Shows in a Performing Arts Centre are a lot similar to shows at Alabama Theatre. Everyone is seated, just waiting for that first push to stand and dance the rest of the night. After a few songs, Paul walked up to the mic and calmly said, “If y’all came to sit down the whole time, you came to the wrong damn show!” And just like that the majority of the crowd stood. The energy of a St. Paul & the Broken Bones show is something you just have to experience, trying to describe it does it no justice. This one was no different.
2/28/16 OPELIKA, ALABAMA
The last of the three shows I was shooting of the Alabama World Tour was in a venue called The Bottling Plant Event Center in Opelika. The building originally opened in 1931 (If I remember correctly) as a Coca Cola bottling plant. I’m sure when they were building it and operating as that, they never expected what would happen in there on this night. St. Paul & the Broken Bones brought more people into that room than have probably ever been in there. The floor was packed from the stage the entire way to the back, where stairs went up to the entry level. That level was also packed so full of people that it was difficult to move. It was amazing.
After St. Paul shows I love listening to the crowd as they file out. This night I was behind an older couple. The man turned to his wife and said, “No one performs like that anymore. Putting everything they’ve got into a live performance.” Paul tripped backwards over one of the monitors on the front of the stage at the beginning of the show and fell so hard right onto his back. He got up and finished the song, laughing when he couldn’t help it in between lines. After the song, he slowly walked up to the mic and said, “If you were expecting a sexy show, you were wrong.” Opelika was wild.