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.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes UC Theatre, Berkeley December 10, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner. Punk rock “supergroup” Me First and the Gimme Gimmes brought an overdose of holiday cheer to the U.C Theatre in Berkeley recently, and celebrated the Christmas season as only they can. With a stage decked out with faux snow, tacky Christmas trees, and plenty of glitter, it was the perfect way to ring in the holidays. Opening the show with the Eartha Kitt classic “Santa Baby,” the group tore through a 20-song setlist that included some of their standard covers, including “Jolene,” (Dolly Parton)…

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Bad Religion Masonic Auditorium December 12, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner. After postponing their original November date due to possible COVID exposure, Bad Religion finally returned to San Francisco earlier this month, and gave their fans a healthy dose of much needed punk rock. And judging from the reaction of the packed venue which sang along to every word, it was well worth the wait. The band opened their whopping 23-song setlist with “New Dark Ages,” and were immediately firing on all cylinders. Vocalist Greg Graffin was his usual animated self, and was almost single handedly directing the crowd. He did have help however, as…

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Mastodon and Opeth Fox Theater, Oakland December 2, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner. Metal heavy hitters Mastodon and Opeth recently joined forces for a quick fifteen date co-headlining tour, and earlier this month they pulled into  Fox Theater, where they played to a packed crowd who had waited almost three years for both bands to return to the Bay Area. Bringing along avant garde metallers Zeal and Ardor, the night was filled with plenty of riffs. Having just released their eighth studio album, Hushed and Grim (which also serves as a tribute to their late manager Nick John who…

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GWAR Regency Ballroom November 21, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Scumdogs of the Universe record, GWAR has embarked on the “Scumdogs 30th Anniversary Tour,” and recently rolled it into the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. With strict COVID protocols in place, fans still packed the venue for an evening of soaking wet, messy metal. As the lights dimmed to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” over the PA, the ceremonial beheading that has become a ritual to start off every GWAR show took place, drenching the front row with red and green liquid. The band then kicked…

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Rival Sons Warfield Theater November 11, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of their 2011record Pressure and Time, Long Beach rockers Rival Sons kicked off the Pressure and Time Tour earlier this Fall, and recently pulled up for a near end of the tour date at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater. The band opened their set on this night by playing the Pressure and Time record in its entirety, with highlights including “Young Love,” “Burn Down Los Angeles,” “White Noise” and “Face of Light.” With both the drums and the backline somewhat deep back on the stage, vocalist Jay…

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Cradle of Filth  Regency Theater October , 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner. Wrapping up their Lustmord and Tourgasm U.S. tour with one final show at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco recently, U.K. metal stalwarts Cradle of Filth not only played their classic 1998 concept album Cruelty and the Beast in its entirety, but also tore through an encore which included some of their most well known songs. The metalheads in attendance most certainly didn’t seem to mind. Highlights from the band’s set included “Beneath the Howling Stars,” “Bathory Aria,” and “The Twisted Nails of Faith,” before a five song encore,…

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Halloween Meltdown Mosswood Park October 16, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner With sixteen bands on the two day line-up, the first Halloween Meltdown took place at Mosswood Park in Oakland recently and celebrated the rich diversity of the Bay Area’s music scene. The weekend was hosted by the legendary John Waters, and headlined by the Osees and The Mummies. Day one of the festival kicked off with Naked Roommate, Drug Apartments, and Chaki the Funk Wizard, before the costume contest. The day really kicked into high gear with Black Flag cover band Bodhi’s War, who brought the crowd down to the…

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Bob Mould August Hall October 1, 2021 Photos by Raymond Ahner Supporting his latest album Blue Hearts, which was released almost a year ago, iconic musician Bob Mould recently kicked off his Distortion and Blue Hearts! tour, stopping off at August Hall in San Francisco for an evening of punk rock influenced protest songs. With a stripped down production and a top notch bassist and drummer behind him, the emphasis was purely on the music. Aa the lights dimmed and the three-piece band hit the stage, Mould took his mask off, hung it on the microphone stand, asked the crowd “Should We…

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Korn Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View September 11, 2021 All photos by Raymond Ahner Korn may have looked just a little different this time around, but that didn’t stop the undisputed kings of alternative metal from bringing the house down during their recent stop at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. After announcing early in the Summer that bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu would be sitting out the tour and Ra Diaz of Suicidal Tendencies would be filling in for him, it was announced the vocalist Johnathan Davis had contracted COVID, and the band would be rescheduling a handful of dates. Once Davis…

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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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