Author: Raymond Ahner

Raymond Ahner, a professional freelance photographer residing in San Francisco, California, is the Photography Editor for SF Sonic. Growing up in the Bay Area, Raymond was lucky enough to witness both the Punk and Thrash Metal scene of the 1980's explode literally right in front of his eyes. It was a pretty special time in his life and is what instilled his love for live music. Over the years Raymond has been fortunate enough to combine his passion for live music with his love of photography. And although he will always love shooting the big arena Rock show, it is in a tiny, packed to the rafters club were he his most at home with his gear.

Hella Mega Tour Oracle Park August 27, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner. Originally slated to take place in July of 2020, the Hella Mega Tour finally rolled into Oracle Park last week after being rescheduled three times in the last eighteen months. Some fans had purchased tickets for this show almost two years prior, and many couldn’t believe that it was finally going to take place. It did indeed take place, and with a lineup of Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Weezer, and The Interrupters, it was almost a flashback to simpler times, while also giving hope that the world of…

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X and the Avengers Stern Grove July 25, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner. Now in it’s 84th season, the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco continues to be the longest running free outdoor music festival in the Bay Area. This past Sunday the festival hosted the band X, who, now in their 43rd year together, continue to be one of the longest running and most influential bands in punk rock. With the fog hovering over the Grove and keeping the weather on the cooler side, it turned out to be the perfect venue for not only the band, but their longtime…

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The music world continues to suffer from the pandemic. Musicians don’t tour, don’t get together in the studio to work on new material, don’t work out new songs in crowded rehearsal rooms. It’s unclear when and if many venues are returning. SF Sonic has been talking with lots of musicians about how they are dealing with the disaster that the pandemic has caused, and now we are telling the stories of musicians from San Francisco about what it’s like. This is the fifth instalment in this series, so read about what they’re doing, listen to some music, buy some merch.…

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In the first of a new series presenting photography from SF Sonic photographers, here is a slideshow of photos by Raymond Ahner. Ray has been photographing shows, big and small, national and local, for many years. Here is his selection.

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Lars Frederiksen Eli’s Mile High Club March 7, 2020 Photos by Raymond Ahner Earlier this year Lars Frederiksen of Rancid announced via social media that he would be playing his first-ever solo show, performing songs from his 30-plus year career at Eli’s Mile High Club, a small club/bar in Oakland, California. The show sold out in a matter of days, with fans anxious to hear not only Rancid songs, but songs from all the bands that he has been a part of throughout the years. With just a single amp and a couple of microphone stands on the small stage, the…

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Black Label Society Regency Ballroom March 1, 2020 Photos by Raymond Ahner Playing their first Bay Area show in almost four years, Black Label Society recently rolled into the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, giving their fans a much-needed dose of not only Metal but also a heaping helping of Zakk Wylde guitar riffs. As the Black Label Society labeled curtain in front of the stage dropped, the band opened their set with “Genocide Junkies.” Zakk Wylde immediately jumped up on a riser at the center of the stage, riffing and posing for the rabid headbanging fans in the front row. Over…

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Melvins Slim’s February 12, 2020 Photos by Raymond Ahner The legendary Melvins, ever the touring machine, recently announced a brief West Coast run, appropriately calling it the Intensities In Ten Cities Tour. With the bands CUNTS and Hepa.Titus along for the ride, the tour recently steamrolled its way into San Francisco for a beyond sold-out show at Slim’s. And to say it was intense would be a major understatement. Opening their set with “Sesame Street Meat,” the Melvins proceeded to put on a somewhat brief but crushing set. Buzz paced his side of the stage while laying down his signature riffs, while…

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Queensrÿche Slim’s January 31, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner Returning to the Bay Area for the first time in almost a year, long-running hard rock veterans Queensrÿche brought their 2020 The Verdict tour to Slim’s in San Francisco recently, and played a near two-hour seventeen song set to a nearly sold-out crowd. And judging from that crowd’s reaction, the band is still on top of their game after all these years. Opening their set with “Prophecy,” off their 1983 self-titled EP, Queensrÿche wasted no time in delivering the older tracks that many of the longtime fans in attendance wanted to hear. Vocalist…

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Sons of Apollo Fillmore Theater January 26, 2020 Photos by Raymond Ahner Sons of Apollo, the prog-metal “supergroup” consisting of Mike Portney (drums,) Billy Sheehan (bass,) Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitar,) Jeff Scott Soto (vocals,) and Derek Sherinian (keyboards,) recently brought their current U.S. tour to The Fillmore in San Francisco, performing for a packed house. The players are truly phenomenal. Sherinian and Portnoy played together in Dream Theater, a prog legend. Portnoy has toured with Neal Morse and put together his own bands, while Sherinian is probably best-known for his working with metal and rock royalty including Alice Cooper, Billy Idol,…

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Reverend Horton Heat Slim’s January 25, 2020 Photos by Raymond Ahner Psychobilly legend The Reverend Horton Heat is out on the road supporting his latest release, Whole New Life, and recently pulled into Slim’s in San Francisco for two beyond sold-out shows. And judging from the crowd’s reaction, The Reverend and his band haven’t lost a step, and sound as just as good as he always has. As the lights dimmed, Jim Heath (aka Reverend Horton Heat), long time bassist Jim “Jimbo” Wallace, and drummer Arjuna “RJ” Contreras took the stage and immediately hit the ground running with the trademark…

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Styx San Jose Center for the Performing Arts January 15, 2020 Photos by Raymond Ahner Now in their 48th year as a band, Styx is currently out on the road on their 2020 tour, and recently pulled into the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, playing 23 songs over two sets to a near sold-old crowd. With new songs, old songs, and a couple of covers, there was definitely something for everyone. Opening set one of the evening with “Gone Gone Gone,” Styx hit the stage running. With a two-level stage, multiple panels of LEDs and plenty of lighting, the band…

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Heilung Regency Ballroom January 11, 2020 Photos by Raymond Ahner Supporting their most recent album Futha, the experimental folk band Heilung kicked off their highly anticipated US tour earlier this month, and recently stopped off at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco for an evening of ritualistic sounds. The hype surrounding this show was started long before the members of Heilung even stepped on to the stage. Fans started to line up in front of the venue hours before the doors opened, and once in most bypassed the bar, and instead got into their second line of the evening to purchase…

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Death Angel Slim’s December 19/20, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner Having just completed a five-week, 32 show headline tour of North America, during which the band was nominated for a Grammy Award, Bay Area thrash metal legends Death Angel headlined two sold-out shows in their hometown of San Francisco on a weekend before Christmas, leaving no doubt that the nomination was well deserved. San Francisco Christmas shows have been a Death Angel tradition for the last six years, and the band always make sure to do it right. From handpicking the support bands, to having their own beer available (Devine Defector…

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Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Slim’s December 15, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, the long-running punk rock “cover” band, recently played three beyond sold-out shows at Slim’s in San Francisco, pulling out all the stops for their three-night Christmas spectacular. With different bands opening each show, there was definitely something for everyone. Taking the stage to the Eddie Money classic “Shakin” on the PA while dressed in matching satin gold shirts, with a pink Christmas tree and upside-down Santa hanging in the background, the Gimmes kicked off night three of their Slim’s mini-residency…

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High On Fire UC Theatre, Berkeley December 6, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner After winning a Grammy Award in 2018, High on Fire went through a bit of a tumultuous remainder of the year, but all their troubles now seem to be well in the rear view mirror. The band has not only emerged but have soared back to their perch as one of the leaders of the pack of the current crop of heavy metal bands. They recently returned to Oakland to play a sold-out show at the UC Theatre, and judging from the reaction of their long-time hometown…

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The Pixies August Hall December 5, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner After finishing up a six-week headlining European Fall tour, iconic rock back The Pixies just embarked on a short, seven-show Up Close and Personal tour, playing intimate venues featuring a changing setlist of songs from the 90 tunes that they have rehearsed for this run. The band recently stopped off at August Hall in San Francisco, playing a highly energetic set to a packed room. With an acoustic guitar in tow, Charles Thompson, (aka Frank Black, aka Black Francis) lead guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer David Lovering, and bassist and relative newcomer (although she has…

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Chelsea Wolfe Regency Ballroom November 16, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner Singer-Songwriter Chelsea Wolfe recently released her sixth studio album, entitled Birthplace of Violence, which, although not a departure from her neo folk-metal sound, definitely has a much more intimate and stripped-down acoustic feel to it. Chelsea has been touring in support of the record and brought her American Darkness Tour to the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. Wolfe took the stage with her acoustic guitar in a white gown, surrounded by a semi-circle of antlers and candles. With just one collaborator in the background, she opened her set with “Flatlands,”…

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 The Casualties Slim’s November 17, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner Long-running street punk heavyweights The Casualties have been out on the road and touring the states, teaming up with Strung Out for a one-two punch of American punk rock. Both bands rolled into San Francisco with a stop at Slim’s recently and showed the crowd that punk rock is still alive and well. The Casualties are supporting their eleventh and latest studio effort, Written in Blood, which was released last year on Cleopatra Records and is the first with vocalist David Rodriguez, who replaced Jorge Herrera back in 2017. Rodriguez…

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In Flames Regency Ballroom November 11, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner Swedish Death Metallers In Flames recently released their thirteenth studio effort, entitled I the Mask. The band also have a new line-up that includes ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick as a touring member playing along with long time member and lead guitarist Bjorn Gelotte. They brought their current fall tour to the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco recently, during which they showcased the new record, with a couple of classics for good measure. Taking the stage and opening their set with “Cloud Connected,” In Flames were full of energy from the…

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Tom Morello The Fillmore November 12, 2019 Photos by Raymond Ahner Tom Morello, guitarist for the recently reunited Rage Against the Machine, along with other projects such as Prophets of Rage and The Nightwatchman, has released a handful of solo albums over the years, but his latest, entitled The Atlas Underground, is the first under his name. Tom has recently been out on the road supporting the record and stopped off at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium to give his fans a taste. Judging from the reaction of the packed venue, his fans are just as excited with his solo efforts as they are…

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