Words by Joe Calixto
It’s not everyday you go on YouTube and come across a video of a band filmed by a complete stranger and be instantly amazed. That was with me with Chris Avis.
On the evening of July 5, 2017, as I parked my car at my mom’s house, I got the text from a good friend of mine. “Chris Avis passed away today.” My heart instantly dropped and I couldn’t move from my car seat. A bajillion questions rushed to my brain, from the whats, the hows, the where, the whens and the whys, just so I can block out the fact that he was gone. I was just messaging him the morning of about the LA date of that tour.
For those who don’t know Chris, he was probably the mastermind behind your favorite West Coast punk/hardcore full set live videos. I found out about bands like Touche Amore, Loma Prieta, and even The Story So Far, from watching his videos. I also found out about Sound and Fury because of him. With over 800 videos on his YouTube channel and some 300 on his Vimeo channel, you can pretty much say he’s got it covered.
He kept his style simple. Nothing too fancy, no crazy color grades, no film burns and effects. It was straight forward but he always found different ways to make it pop. That’s what made Cavis Tapes the shit! His videos had zero bullshit. He would try his best to get some good audio. He even made his infamous “Hat Mic.” He just wanted you all to get that front row experience.
We’ve shot quite a few shows together and I was always worried that he hated me because of my flash but we got to talking and he was the greatest dude. I’m sure he caught my fall a couple of times at Sound and Fury.
For a lot of people, you probably only knew him as the videographer, the guy standing at the side of the stage with his camera and his hat, taking the sickest videos of your favorite band.
But for others, he was more than that. Chris Avis was Bakersfield High School’s JV basketball coach. He loved the sport so much that we would even talk about it at shows. I also found out lately that he was involved with the Special Education program at the school, which I also find interest in. It takes a lot to tackle those responsibilities and Chris, alongside filming, handled it well.
One news outlet dubbed Chris “the Ultimate Friend” and he was nothing short of. He was the most selfless person I have ever met. He would always take time to say what’s up at a show, even on stage. His basketball knowledge was incredible and he showed his love for the music and the scene in his own way. But his one true love was Majerle. If you knew Chris, no way in hell would you not ask about his dog. He loved that dog like his own child. I even wanted to film a session with my band just so I can hang out with his dog while they film.
There is no doubt that Chris Avis touched my life and inspired me, as a photographer, as someone in media, and as a human being. He showed me through his videos, even how chaotic and wild it can be, that I’d rather be at a hardcore show with friends. He showed me that being humble and helping out a fellow photographers/videographers can take you a long way. He showed me that there is no such thing as a hard job – the man filmed an entire festival and edited full sets like nothing. And he showed me that John Stockton and Karl Malone are the best duo in NBA history (but I told him I already knew that). We also had a laugh when he asked me “how was that Chevelle tour?”
I will not talk about the details of his death because I am writing here to celebrate and honor one of Southern California’s greatest and most genuine souls.
There is a GoFundMe campaign where you can donate in memory of Chris and all proceeds will go to BHS Athletics Program in Chris’ name.
Chris Avis is survived by his father David; twin brother (also named David); one younger brother, Jakob; and two older half-siblings, Rebekah Avis and Jean Smith; and his dog Majerle.
GONNA MISS YOU COACH!