Hinder performing a live set during the Kansas City Throttle Fest as part of Michael Ballard and the Full Throttle Saloon experience.

In 2012 and again in 2013 I had the extreme luck of being one of the few, the chosen­••an official Full Throttle Saloon photographer for owner Michael Ballard in Sturgis, South Dakota. Let me tell you, South Dakota plus Casey Drahota and tons of band photography equals a LOT of fun and some really entertaining rock portraits and commercial shots.

At the end of a rockin’ week, the other photographer and I were asked to be part of Throttle Fest, a music festival designed to bring the Full Throttle Saloon Sturgis experiences to Kansas City, MO. The idea was simple but sure to succeed—tons of bikes, hot women, cold beer, and loud music from noon to two in the morning. My answer was a resounding “Yes!”Throttle Fest Kansas City 2012 included a talented performance by Hinder. I’ve always enjoyed Hinder’s energy as a band. You can’t help but get pumped up by the in­your­face tempo of their music, especially in songs like “Use Me,” one of my favorite numbers of all time, from their 2008 album “Take it to the Limit.” Hinder is a widely popular rock band; they’ve gotten tons of airplay with songs like “Lips of an Angel,” “Get Stoned,” “All American Nightmare,” “Up All Night,” and “What Ya Going to Do.” Given their large fan base and high­ energy sound, I had a feeling their set was going to be a memorable musical experience. I was ready to take some great rock concert photography while enjoying a quality live show.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly for Kansas City, Missouri, the weather didn’t want to cooperate with Throttle Fest that weekend. The rain did hold off for Hinder’s festival­style show, though; a storm probably didn’t want to compete with their lightning star power or the thunderous applause because crowd turnout was impressive. The gig was perfect for raw rockstar photography; I knew I could catch some vibrant band images even in the gloomy conditions.

Hinder’s live Throttle Fest performance did not disappoint; their concert sound was just as high­energy as their studio music. Overall, I was impressed with lead vocalist Austin Winkler, although he did sing somewhat outside of his vocal range at times. I gave him a pass because I’m sure a night of hard­hitting rock belting will scratch up anyone’s voice, and he was really pushing himself; his singing was on­point the majority of the time, and he gave it his all in regards to showmanship. Hinder guitarists Joe Garvey and Mark King played skillfully and supported Winkler’s strong stage presence with their audience interaction; they were all over the stage along with bassist Mike Rodden, firing up the crowd and adding a personal touch to the entertainment that night. Drummer Cody Hanson rounded out the band to put together the 75­minute set rich with material for golden concert photographs. Hinder made sure to remind Throttle Fest goers that they were at a live show with real musicians. It was a performance I would attend again in a heartbeat!

Article co-wrote by Emi Griess and Casey Drahota. Images © Casey Drahota