Cory Wong performed to a sold out crowd at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 24, 2020 — and I, Jordan August, was allowed into the photo pit just in the nick of time to capture a bit of the funky magic. I’m truly grateful to have been at this event. Philly loves Cory Wong and it showed. What follows is more of an account of my evening than an actual live concert review.
Continue reading below for my full concert review and more shots from the show. All images copyright and courtesy of Jordan August.
I’ve been a concert photographer for 12 years now. I’ve shot major festivals, tiny bands, house photography gigs for small venues, big venues, and I’ve also photographed portraits for some iconic artists. On this night I showed up to a shoot the Cory Wong, but my credentials were not there. Which means, I had a ticket waiting, but I couldn’t bring my camera and gear inside the venue. Bummer, right?
I live in Philadelphia. Proper. I ride a bicycle or take the subway almost everywhere I go. I live really close to the Theatre of Living Arts so I rode my bike. Admittedly, I showed up a little later than I should have for the show. There was a ticket, but no photo pass. So what do you do when you have a free ticket but are carrying a bag with 10k worth of camera gear in it? You leave. You send texts, emails, and wait. I waited outside in the cold for 30 minutes and heard the band start to play. Then I heard the band play past the time I would have had to shoot from the photo pit. So unfortunately, I left.
As you can see I ended up making into the venue regardless. Thankfully I only went down the street. I hung out at Milkboy and then…BOOM, I received a personal email from Cory Wong’s tour manager. Game on!!! The editor of Hazy Eye Music Media contacted the press representative and the tour manger responded quickly. He genuinely felt bad about the situation. He didn’t know why there was no photo pass waiting, but he certainly made up for the confusion a slight inconvenience.
I was given a beautifully laminated all access pass and allowed into the photo pit to shoot by myself. Upon entering the photo pit I was stopped by security and told, “you are not allowed to shoot in here.” I simply showed them my all access pass and was allowed in. I definitely missed over half the set, but the half I did get to see was incredible. The band was full of infectious musical energy and positive vibes. Every band member was smiling and communicating with one another seamlessly. There was nothing but perfection throughout the performance. Cory’s smile was ear to ear the entire time I was there. That man has some serious moves on stage too!
After shooting in the photo pit for a few songs my fancy photo pass was replaced. While in the front I was confronted with wacky inflatable tube men, guest musicians, and heartfelt stories. Lots of love and respect was in the air. Eventually I make my way to the back of the house so I could take some good crowd shots. And who do I bump into? A dear old friend. A man that basically taught me everything I know about photography — my college professor, Phil Drucker.
My college professor and I only spoke briefly. There was honestly so much I wanted to say to him, but there was work to do and time was running out. Before ending our conversation he said to me “I knew you would be here.” Wow. Do you know what it’s like to be inspired and motivated by someone’s artistic work for 13 years, and then hear them something like that? Amazing.
Luckily for the fans, Cory Wong is still touring. He puts on a great show and is a masterful guitar player. The bands sound and performance was great. Be sure to check out the Official Cory Wong Website for all upcoming tour dates and other info about the man and his band.
Here are some more photos of Cory Wong and his band performing at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 24, 2020. All images copyright and courtesy of Jordan August.
Stream these Cory Wong albums on Spotify: