Written and submitted by Shelby Whitehouse.
This past weekend of April 15th and 16th, Maine pop punkers Friday Night Lites did a two-night stint with Rhode Island locals Trophy Wives. The first night kicked off in Derry, NH with the last show ending in Worcester, MA. I had the pleasure of road tripping around for the weekend with Friday Night Lites, and let me tell you; there’s never a dull moment with these guys. What is Friday Night Lites? This sunny, upbeat, positive band comes from Southern Maine. A group of busy guys, who have a collective mission to get their fans to "Lite 'N Up"! Lyrically they are catchy, and melodically they're tighter than most would expect to hear from a local group. So, needless to say spending the weekend with this 5 part group was as fun as busy as I could ever have needed.
Arriving in Derry, NH was pleasant, and after no time we were all together. The first two to greet me were guitarists Nate, and Matt (fondly and more preferably known as Stik). These two were followed closely behind by local band Crisis A.D’s Keanu, our merch guy for the weekend. These three lead me to the van where we found Vocalist Joey, as well as bassist Jesse relaxing before a long night of music. Last to arrive to the van to catch up was Friday Night Lites' newest member, their drummer Derek.
Having known the guys for a while, there was no need for an ice breaker as we reunited and started preparing for the night ahead. Merch was unloaded, equipment was brought in, and dance parties were had as I snapped away with the camera. Once everyone was settled inside, the crew disbanded a bit to support other bands, catch up with friends, greet fans, and freshen up before performing.
Finally, it was time for the guys to perform. I snapped on my 50mm 1.8 lens, and took my place side stage as FNL launched into their power packed set. People jammed, sang the words, and there was even some creative “hardcore dancing” happening in the crowd. Joey soared above the stage pulling out all the stops complete with ninja moves and punk rock jumps. Their set included crowd favorites, and singles such as “Bases Loaded” and “Face the World”, as well as “I’m a Sandra Bullock Kinda Guy”. Guitarist and Bassist, Nate and Jesse, we’re on their game with encouraging the crowd to yell the lyrics along with them. Guitarist “Stik” was focused and concise, bringing out that bright and sunny vibe everybody loves from the band’s sound. Also, you could never tell that this outing was only new drummer Derek’s third show with the group, as he seemingly never missed a beat and kept the crew on time throughout the set. Passion rose higher and higher in every members face’s as they finished off their set with their newest upcoming single “We’ve Got Something for Ya.” The room felt electric down to the last note. Exhausted, the guys left the stage to head back to their posts around the room. Their set had gone down without a hitch.
After finishing up watching anticipated Rhode Island Trophy Wives the band loaded up and headed out to the home of Crowdsurf Central’s Seth Dallaire in Haverhill, MA. Once in Haverhill, Mcdonald’s happened. Eight individual drive-thru orders later, we we’re pretty sure the people at McDonalds hated us. We scooted to Seth’s house, ate, talked the night over, and eventually sprawled out throughout the house to rest.
Waking up the next day, we woke with a plan to head into downtown Haverhill where Seth showed us some great spots for promotional work. My goal for the morning with the guys was just to get some solid photos that could be used for their media needs. I got way more than I bargained for. Instead I got five men in desperate need of coffee and food, one excessively sleepy merch guy, and I was super exhausted myself. We all lazied around getting ready. Joey, Derek, Seth, and Nate took their time getting ready by watching Star Wars to start their day (a group favorite, by far). By the time we hit the city, it was nearly noon. We stopped for breakfast as a family at a little café, and then embarked on one of the busiest days of shooting I’ve ever encountered. We hit 10+ different stops in the city to try to capture who these guys really are. We were under bridges, against walls, on the waterfront, hanging out on stoops, just walking around. I got every emotion in the spectrum on camera that day, and had the most fun doing it.
These guys all live in different places, so aside from weekly practices, there’s not a lot of time to hang out as a whole. So, they had a great time just being guys, being friends, and enjoying the sunny day all while we worked. I got all the shots I could’ve ever needed, and so many fun candids that really prove that Friday Night Lites is like family. If you’ve never met them, you’d probably think at least one is related to their other, these guys are like brothers. Each member brings an aspect to the group, and it’s part of who they are as Friday Night Lites on stage as well.
After shooting was done, it was time to get ready for NeonFest that night. Joey, Jesse, Nate, Stik, and Derek all were sure they had their proper gear, water, outfits and everything they’d need in the coming hours before we all sat to rest before departing Haverhill, MA. An hour nap, some donuts with Keanu, and a couple skateboard tricks later, the group was ready to hit the road to Worcester, MA. The drive was quick, and loading in for the night was even quicker. The show came and went as a blur, with all types of local talent taking the stage. This was a variety show of types for sure. Trophy Wives jumped, jammed, and threw down following a vivid performance from Lions Lions. Then, it was our turn.
Friday Night Lites took the stage to a pretty intimate crowd that evening. Though it wasn’t the biggest show to date, each member played with more vigor and intensity than I’ve ever seen in them before. Something about such a relaxed night lit a fire in these guys that clearly proves they’re out for big things. The whole set was really a big blur for everyone involved, getting fiercer and louder as it went on. Joey, Jesse, Nate, Stik, and Derek left the stage that night exhausted, and itching to play a show bigger than any one before it to leave this night behind.
Run down from a busy weekend, we made our way back to Haverhill where we said our goodbyes. We’d all be together again the following weekend for battle of the bands, with more shenanigans to come. This left me to crash in Haverhill for the evening, sifting through photos, and gearing up for all the big things to come. I don’t know what Friday Night Lites has in store for me next, but I do know that whatever it is I’m ready. These guys are doing HUGE things, and it’s a pleasure to be along for the ride.
Keep your eye out for Friday Night Lites in Farmington, ME at the Battle of the Bands 4/23/16, and for more photos to come VIA Crowdsurf Central & smwPHOTO.