Last Shot: A Cancer Patient's Dream Comes True
[Editor's Note: Long-time concert photographer Andrew Youssef found out two years ago that he had stage IV colon cancer. In that time, he has continued to shoot tons of music events, on top of other freelance work and working a day job at a hospital, of all places. As he continues to fight for his life, this series allows him to tell his story in his own words.]
Lindsey Best Andrew Youssef
I can still remember being at a Tower Records listening station back in 1998 and being blown away by the brutality of Meshuggah's album Chaosphere. It was the heaviest thing I had heard to date and I immediately went to the counter to purchase the album and call my brother to tell him about this new amazing band that I found.
Based in Sweden, Meshuggah is an extreme metal band that features the growling vocal stylings of Jens Kidman, earth-shaking bass of Dick Lovgren, the pulsating drums of Tomas Haake, my eight string guitar heroes Frederik Thordendal and Marten Hagstrom. Releasing albums approximately every three to four years, when Meshuggah tours one must take special note to see them play as they usually tour once in the States per album cycle.
I was fortunate to photograph Meshuggah at the House of Blues Anaheim for OC Weekly back in 2009 and 2012. As I mentioned in my "Chemical Warfare" column, Meshuggah is usually what I play in my headphones when they start the IV in my arm for my chemotherapy. When the band announced a stop this past March, I was determined to attend.
While setting up the credentials to review the show with their publicist Loana, who had read my initial Last Shot column, I mentioned that Meshuggah was one of my favorite bands and that I had an Ibanez eight string guitar specifically for my feeble attempts to play Meshuggah songs at home. After a few exchanges, Loana asked if I would like to meet the band after the show. I was immediately floored and overrun with excitement.
After catching a blistering set, my brother and I met with Loana and were escorted backstage to meet the band. While it is a scary proposition to meet your idols, Meshuggah were extremely nice and down to earth guys as they answered all of my nerdy gear questions, signed my guitar and kindly posed for pictures. It still feels like a dream to this day and I'm thankful that these precious memories are preserved in pictorial form as I somehow wisely handed my camera to Loana to take pictures of me with the band.