Photographing other artists is the purest form of collaboration. It is a dialogue that moves between admiration and inspiration.

I use my camera to encourage other artists. I want my images to capture and boost their confidence, and to inspire them to keep creating. My photos would be nothing without people doing what they love and these collaborations have helped me recognize the importance of creating. 

There is something special about musicians’ ability to create something larger than themselves and make their audience feel strong emotions. Being a musician takes hard work and dedication and I am drawn to capturing the fruits of this labor.

When I heard about “The Battle of The Bands: Live at the Atrium” at the Catalyst on April 27, I knew I had to be there. 

The contest was put on by Free the Youth, who describe themselves as a “CA DIY Music Collective,” in collaboration with Shabang, a music festival based in San Luis Obispo. The contest consisted of bands who have gained traction through long-time involvement in the Santa Cruz music scene. Bands were invited by the collective for a chance to win $1,000 and the opportunity to perform at Shabang. 

As I waited in line, eager and curious, representatives of Free The Youth ran around interviewing people in line with a microphone attached to a spoon. When the doors opened, the Atrium filled up quickly. The Atrium is a smaller and more intimate venue than the main stage at The Catalyst. The event itself was quite the steal — with a $25 ticket, attendees got to see five different bands. 

The bands performing were Casino Youth, Ladders, Trash Day, Trestles, and Sluttony. All five bands fell under genres such as rock, alternative, and pop-punk.

Casino Youth

Casino Youth opened the contest with a fast-paced, energizing performance.

“We have been waiting to play at the Catalyst for a while now, and it was a dream come true,” said lead vocalist and guitarist Aidan Greathouse. “Performing live music is so special because you can tell how much we care about music and playing our instruments by being able to perform something so intricate to so many people.”

Lead singer Aidan Greathouse jamming away at his very first performance at the Catalyst.

Aaron Swihart on backup vocals and bass.


Ladders followed with an experimental rock set, featuring an excellent performance from their bassist Lucas Niswonger.

Top: Lead singer Henry Magee passionately performed for a packed house.

Bottom: Ladders’ bassist Lucas Niswonger.

Trash Day

Lead guitarist Ethan Reichwald describes Trash Day as “an indie/punk rock band that emerged from the post-COVID Santa Cruz music scene.”  The band met in 2019 but didn’t get the chance to perform until 2021 because of the pandemic.

“Performing live is essential in this day and age because it’s an opportunity to bring people together and just have fun,” said Reichwald. “The relationship between our band and the crowd is one of my favorite things about performing, especially in Santa Cruz. The way we have designed our music is intended to get the biggest audience reactions by engaging the crowd with the punk aesthetic and encouraging safe and respectful moshing.”

Top left: Ethan Reichwald and the rest of Trash Day wore matching splatter-painted coveralls. Bottom Left: They kicked the concert into high gear with a cover of Dick Dale & His Del-Tones’ “Miserlou.”

Right: Liam Fahey serenaded the crowd with a soothing sax solo.


Trestles’ performance started a very sweaty moshpit.

“As long as people in the scene are willing to give us the energy and excitement that they do, we’re gonna keep pushing the band as far as we can take it,” said Trestles lead singer Hunter Kelly.

Trestles bassist Phia Wall made a point to emphasize the importance of feminine-identifying people in music. Wall stated that it is crucial for feminine-identifying people to participate in a world that is dominated by men.

At some point during Trestles’ set, the moshpit collapsed behind me, and I turned to see concertgoers helping each other up. 

One of the signs of a great performance is a responsive crowd. I love capturing packed crowds because you get so many emotions in one shot. People pushed together like sardines and having the time of their lives always makes for great pictures.


For the final act, Sluttony performed with an unmatched velocity that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The all-femme band has been around for a few years in the Santa Cruz music scene and established quite a reputation. Taking the stage as the last performer, they made sure to end the event on a high note. As the most well-known band at the concert, many attendees knew their music and sang along.

Nina Maravic and Hannah Goodwin have been in the band for over two years.

Hannah Goodwin and the rest of the band went on to perform at Shabang the next weekend.

At the end of the concert, promoters brought out a giant QR code for attendees to scan and vote for their favorite band. After a brief voting period, Sluttony was declared the winner. The crowd erupted as the members of Sluttony accepted their award with shocked looks on their faces.

This entire concert was a testament to the power of the music community here in Santa Cruz. It showed that when artists put time and effort into their art, people respond.