For this week's Mahal, I got to talk music with legendary Lower East Side photographer, Clayton Patterson. Over the decades, he has documented just about every memorable show in Lower East Side and today is still getting out there and seeing relevant stuff. Within the last couple weeks, he shot the Grays, Ghostface Killah, and Cheap Trick. Enjoy the photos. Below is my interview with the man himself.
VICE: What kind of role has music played throughout your time documenting the Lower East Side?
Clayton Patterson:Music was about gathering, collectives, social points of views, and like-minded people. It was all about friendships, bonds, hanging out, and meeting people. There was constant emotional satisfaction, understanding, entertainment, and so on. Music, in one way or another, was almost a part of everything. One of the beauties of the LES was the cross pollination of all the different kinds and layers of culture.
Has it diminished as a result of gentrification?
Gentrification changed the concept of freedom and how we deal with culture. Instead of ideas, creating, gathering, brainstorming, experiments, making, traveling, and so on, everything became related to money. It was not just gentrification that changed music and music culture, think digital. It's a long story.
What was your favorite show in the past?
There as been so many. It was a great time, cannot list any one event or band.
What kind of shows do you like to document these days?
Like always, the ones that I am invited to.
What is the story behind the snake handling at The Grays show?
That show was meant to give the impression that one was in a church in the south, amongst fundamentalist Christian believers. Two of the main developers of Capturedhttp://www.capturedmovie.com/ the movie ran the show. For Captured, Jenner Furst was the director and Dan Levin was on camera.
What was it like hanging out with the Ghostface Killah and his crew?
They were totally cool, laid back, approachable. The room had a good vibe. His manager was excited about the show. We all were. Show was off the hook. Doper Jones took charge of the mic with a solid rap, Pink Pony's Zac was in the VIP lounge, which was a large room with a few people, just friendly ones and a full bar. The best environment to be in after a killer show.
What are your thoughts on the John Varvatos venue and the recent Cheap Trick performance there?
I think that John Varvatos must be a genius to pull off all he does. He is not only in the top end of the fashion world. He has cornered old school Rock ’n’ Roll fashion. It is incredible that the Bowery Store crew can change the whole full fashion space into a Rock ’n’ Roll club.The Cheap Trick show was absolutely fabulous. Performing artists at the top of their music game.
Photos by Clayton Patterson
Portrait and Words by Taji Ameen