That Nikon 17-55/2.8 sure came in handy last night. I went to Jaxx in Springfield, VA to see Symphony X, Epica and Into Eternity on the last gig of their current tour. This was a sold-out show, and I made a crucial mistake: I didn’t show up early enough. When I got to the club at 8pm (the scheduled start time on the website), one of the local opening bands was already playing, with a sizable crowd in front of the stage. I managed to negotiate my way to the second row or so before the next local support band came on, but it was still a less than ideal spot, and I was stuck to it the whole time with no chance to move around. Note to self: for sold-out shows at venues with no photo pit… get there WAY earlier than I think is necessary.
I came away with some good shots anyway, I think, and the 17-55 was a dream to shoot with. The wide angle was absolutely necessary in the tight quarters I had to work with, and I was able to get some shots that took advantage of my position right in the middle of the crowd. Also, the lighting was fantastic, and I didn’t ever have to pull out the 50/1.8 - in fact, I was often shooting at 1/200th or faster at ISO 1600. I was in manual exposure mode the whole time, changing shutter speed (and occasionally ISO) on the fly with the changing light. I’m more used to shooting small venues where the lighting is mostly static, so this was a fun challenge and I’m happy with how I handled it.
Of these bands I’m mostly a fan of Epica; I used to really like Symphony X but I moved away in large part from the prog-metal type stuff, oh, five or six years ago. Unfortunately, Epica was missing their inimitable frontwoman Simone Simons, who has been ill for some time now. Amanda Somerville, Simons’ voice coach, filled in, and her voice was remarkably similar to Simons’. She seemed comfortable on stage with the band as well, which I suppose makes sense since it was the last gig of the tour.
All the bands put on very good performances. I did not shoot Symphony X. For the last couple songs of Epica’s set, some dude who probably weighed 200 pounds more than me decided to shove his way up front and lean his entire weight into me while pumping his fists and screaming. I pretty much had to stop shooting and brace myself against the stage railing (doing the folks in front of me a favor). After Epica’s set, he didn’t move, and I decided to find a different spot. Unfortunately, that proved impossible, the crowd was so densely packed. So I retreated to the bar and enjoyed Symphony X from afar. I’m a little bummed about not shooting them, but I had already almost filled up my two 4GB cards anyway. And I was tired. So… shrug. Still, lesson learned… show up early when there’s no photo pit. Shooting from the front row is WAY easier and better than shooting from the second row.
One final note: the bands were unruly themselves, it being their final show. It was actually kind of hilarious; they were throwing food and other things (silly string, as in the below photo of Into Eternity’s guitarist) at each other during the sets. It was cool to see these guys having so much fun, and in front of a very appreciative crowd to boot.
My favorite shot of the night is probably this one, of one of the local openers, Tolerance for Tragedy. Very metal: