Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Bishops entertain the Badger Nation

The excitement was evident in Bryan Bishop's first emails and, in the phone conversation that followed, his voice, when he asked if I would photograph the band for an upcoming show.

His Indy rock band, the Bishops, had been asked to perform for the University of Wisconsin football fan tailgate party on Dec. 1 in the hours immediately preceding the Badgers' meeting of the University of Nebraska for the 2012 Big Ten Conference football championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It would be the conference's second title game -- it was started only last year -- and Wisconsin would be returning as defending champion, albeit as the underdog.

The tailgate party would be held in Hall F of the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis, just a short walk from the stadium. Food and beverage vendors lined two sides of the hall, and fans filled the bulk of the hall beyond the stage.

On party night, Bishop and the band did right by Badgers fans.

Bryan tweaked a few key lyrics in a few cover songs to favor the Wisconsin home of the audience, he donned a cheesehead for a song or two, and the band played several bars of House of Pain's "Jump Around" -- a song that's become one of college football's most specatular traditions, not to mention sights to behold: Badgers fans literally jump up and down when the song blasts on the P.A. system at Camp Randall Stadium between the third and fourth quarters of every home football game.

There was more. The band's light show was generous with the Badgers' red colors, Bishop wore a red Badgers' cap early in the show, and and the whole band sported various UW paraphernalia -- shirts, sweatshirts, caps and jackets, all red -- for the second set.

I had not seen the Bishops since taking some photos, recording some video and grabbing a full-band picture 11 months ago in Bargersville, Ind., where the Bishops had a gig at CG's Sports Cafe. On that particular evening, the band was disappointed by sparse attendance. (Only a week before that show, it had an almost exact opposite experience at Mickey's Irish Pub in Carmel -- it was an exciting evening for the sextext). The band also was still breaking in a new lead guitar player, Matt Ley, and keyboard player, R.J. Johnson.

On tailgate night Saturday, the band was tight, energized and clicking like a unit that had found its rhythm ... and accomplished its objectives. For a full gallery of images from the show, visit my site at

Next post: The tailgate party's band intermission, featuring visits by UW athletic director and former Badgers coach Barry Alvarez, 1999 Heisman Trophy winner and former Badgers running back Ron Dayne, and the renowned University of Wisconsin Marching Band.

Above: The Bishops started the second set wearing UW gear, although Georgette Fraction put aside her jacket early on. The band consists of (from left) R.J. Johnson, John Marque, Bryan Bishop, Eldon Hawkins, Georgette Fraction and Matt Ley.

The light and smoke show allowed for pursing some creative effects in picture-taking, including the rays above and hair highlights below.

Bassist Eldon Hawkins contributes his bottom lines and vocals above, and enjoys lead guitarist Matt Ley's solo below. 

Bryan Bishop grooves to the acoustic guitar above and lends his profile to a nifty combination smoke-and-backlight effect below. 

Above: Drummer John Marque in a long-sleeve Wisconsin T-shirt, while keyboardist R.J. Johnson goes the short-sleeve route. 

Above: Bryan also was excited the band's on-stage banner (far right), which I hadn't seen before.

Above: Marque makes like Gene Simmons to give the photographer something interesting in the composition. Thanks John! 

Above: Georgette and Matt connect eyes during this number.

Above: It isn't often that I experience goosebumps while working on my photos in post-processing, but I did when I pulled up these tight, powerful shots of Georgette, taken with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens. Her stage presence and performances are dynamic and emotion-packed. If you ever experience it, cherish the moment.

Above: Hawkins, in a UW shirt, joining in on vocals. 

Above: Another frame taken with the 70-200mm lens, this time with Bishop on lead vocals.

Above: A view of what the band looked out onto during its show at the Indiana Convention Center.

Above: Matt Ley in the second set (above) and during the first set (below), yet another shot taken with the 70-200mm lens.

R.J. Johnson (above) and Bryan Bishop, rockin' in Badgers paraphernalia during their second set. 

Above: Tailgaters getting in step during a line dance song. 

Above: Bishop sporting a familiar Wisconsin icon.

Fraction in another shot with the 70-200mm lens (above) and flashing the Wisconsin "W" (below). 

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