If you've been to shows in San Antonio, chances are you've seen curly-haired photographer Oscar Moreno weaving in front of the stage to get the perfect shot of a band's performance.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Moreno moved to San Antonio when he was 7 and now plays bass for local outfits Volcan, Hyperlight Driveship and Mockingbird Express. When not holding things down with his infectious bass grooves, Moreno is a freelance photographer shooting a variety of musical acts, from locals to big touring bands. By way of transparency, he's occasionally shot for the Current
We caught up with him to ask about his work documenting the city's music scene.
How long have you been playing shows in San Antonio as a musician?
By the time I was 16 or 17, I had a metal band called A Devoured Deception, and we would play with HOD and all the big-hitters in the local scene. We started off at small bars like Reptiles, Rock Bottom, the Warhol before it became Ventura ... Before all the gentrification (laughs
). I joined Hyperlight Driveship in 2010, and 2011-2012 is when I started meeting all the people in the music scene and began playing with bands like Lonely Horse.
When did you start shooting bands?
Ever since I had a little point-and-shoot when I was 18 or 19, I started taking pictures of bands. I eventually saved enough money to get a DSLR. In 2015, Nic [Long of Lonely Horse] was going to play a show at Imagine and I said, “Oh, I know Nic,” and that’s when I started taking pictures of Nic and the band. And that’s when I started seeing a lot of shows that were coming through Imagine [Books and Records]. Since it was 10 minutes away from my house, I would always be there and take pictures of the local scene.
What’s been the greatest takeaway from shooting so many bands?
I feel like it’s been more of a giving back thing by taking pictures of bands. I would see Facebook photos of a real bad cell phone photo as part of a band’s demo or press kit, so I would try and give a band a good image so they’d have something to show off. There’s been a lot of evolution in the last three years that I’ve been actively shooting. A lot of bands come and go, and you kind of start changing your perspective, and you can get kind of cynical after a while.
How do you mean?
A lot of bands put on a big presentation, and they want to make it big, and they don’t end up anywhere. That’s happened too many times.
What do you think is the biggest impediment for these bands?
In my opinion, I just think it’s something that’s been engrained in me — a lot of credit goes to James Woodard, who says, "Get the fuck out of Texas." And, yeah, I agree. Not a lot of bands are touring. San Antonio has 1.5 million people, but you see the same 50 people at their shows. I feel like a lot of bands here in town, if they were to tour they would really really make an impact rather than just playing two shows a month here in San Antonio. Or do the whole Texas Tour, where it’s just the same three cities in Texas.
Check out Moreno's work at oscarmphotography.com and get our top picks for the best events in San Antonio every Thursday morning. Sign up for our Events Newsletter