Last year, North Carolina’s Delta Rae were playing tiny venues like 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis, and not even coming close to selling them out. Fast-forward to 2013, and they’re playing to a capacity crowd at the 1,200-person 9:30 Club in DC, and looking so comfortable onstage that you might think they’ve been playing arenas for years. The pleasant surprise referred to in this post’s title was Delta Rae’s performing chops: they stunned me with how much better they were in concert compared to their record. The band has boundless energy and it’s put to good use, not just in the stage show but also in the music: every song sounded more powerful and convincing live than on record.
The unpleasant surprise, though, was the lighting. I expected the beautiful lighting treatment that most non-metal bands get at the 9:30 Club. Instead, the lighting was all deep color washes and intense strobing backlights, only occasionally augmented by some very dim incandescent frontlighting. Very challenging shoot to say the least, but the band more than made up for it. You can’t go wrong with six people completely freaking out onstage, no matter what the lights look like.
Still, I’d love to shoot this band again sometime with some nice white frontlights. I got zero shots with catchlights in the eyes. That’s a bummer.
Check out the full set at Flickr for more, plus photos of the openers, The Wild Feathers and Jillette Johnson.