Posts Tagged ‘metal’

Four recent challenges

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

LTW

I shot four concerts in four different venues recently, and encountered four challenges which can briefly be summed up as: crappy light, crappy light, crappy light, and crappy light. Case in point: the above photo of local metal band LTW at the Black Cat backstage, the EXIF data of which reads: ISO 12800, f/1.4, 1/30s shutter.

OK, to some extent this is an exaggeration for effect. In fact, for a minute or two I got to shoot at Empire (formerly Jaxx) at ISO 400, which is utterly unheard-of. But aside from a few isolated moments, each of these four concerts had some severe challenges on the lighting side. I’m not complaining – this is pretty standard fare for concert photography – I was mostly just looking for a way to post about four completely different shows all in one post, and this is the best my feeble mind could do. In reverse chronological order, here’s a super quick recap of those four shows – one photo per band.

Last night (in descending order below): Coheed and Cambria, Between the Buried and Me and Russian Circles at the 9:30 Club. I was excited about this mostly because the last time I shot Coheed I got an unforgettable photo. But I’d forgotten how tough a shoot it was – all dim light with lots of strobes. Same deal last night, except for Russian Circles, who literally played with zero frontlight. Here’s the full set.

Coheed & Cambria

Between the Buried and Me

Russian Circles

Last Sunday: Doro, Sister Sin and A Sound of Thunder at Empire. Doro had a spotlight on her for much of the show, which was a huge surprise to me, not having shot at this venue since it was Jaxx. But the rest of her band was in the dark recesses, which made wide shots hard. The light for local openers A Sound of Thunder was pretty tremendous, though. Here’s the full set.

Doro

Sister Sin

A Sound of Thunder

Last Saturday: Duos Buke and Gase and Ahleuchatistas at DC9. The light here was actually better than I remember it, but again, super uneven light across the stage made it hard to get both performers in one nicely exposed photo. Here’s the full set.

Buke and Gase

Ahleuchatistas

Finally, last month was Jucifer and LTW (who are pictured at the top of this post) at the Black Cat backstage. Jucifer always plays in the dark, and LTW made things complicated by only having their drummer onstage, with the other two band members on the floor with the crowd – where, of course, there’s no light. That was a fun show, nevertheless. The below shot of Jucifer isn’t very good, but I like how it shows that Jucifer’s monstrous rig takes up literally half of the stage real estate. Here’s the full set.

Jucifer

Earth @ Rock & Roll Hotel

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Earth

A pretty stellar bill of Earth, Eagle Twin and Stebmo (a jazzy side project of Earth’s keyboardist/trombonist Steve Moore) rolled through DC in November. This was probably one of my favorite shows of the year from start to finish. Earth is a truly hypnotizing band to watch and listen to live. Their ultra-slow songs feel heavier than most grindcore bands, and drummer Adrienne Davies is truly mesmerizing in action, keeping the slow tempos with huge, sweepingly dramatic gestures.

I last saw Eagle Twin opening for Sunn O))), but I didn’t remember them being quite so fantastic. At this show they played for an hour straight, with no song breaks or even discernable songs at all – just nonstop loud, pummeling, mostly instrumental metal. And Stebmo was a real highlight as well; their record sounds like avant-jazz, but live they were stripped down to just Steve Moore and Earth’s bassist Don McGreevy, and the duo’s version of Stebmo’s songs felt heavy and doomy – just what you would want out of two members of Earth playing jazz.

For more, see the full set at Flickr. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with my work.

Earth

Earth

Earth

Earth

Earth

Eagle Twin:

Eagle Twin

Eagle Twin

For more, see the full set at Flickr. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with my work.

Epica @ Howard Theatre

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Epica

The fall concert season has been a slow one for me due to loads of work-related travel and other life factors. Still, I’ve done a few fun shows, and I’ll do a few retrospective posts about them here, since I’ve been neglecting the blog rather severely for much of the year. First up is a rare metal show at the Howard Theatre – gothic metal stalwarts Epica in late October. I really like this band, despite the damage that does to my metal cred, and haven’t seen them since 2010, when I did a fairly pedestrian band portrait with them in the parking lot of what was then Jaxx.

This time around, I did a portrait with just Simone Simons, the band’s frontwoman. This is of course easier than a full band shoot, but I was given 5 minutes with her in a terrible location with only about 10 minutes to set up. So I didn’t even try to get creative; instead, I did a simple two-light setup and avoided all backgrounds. I used my 85/1.4 stopped down a bit to f/2. As far as boring headshots go, I’m pretty happy with it:

Simone Simons

The show itself was fun to shoot, but I got stuck right in front of Simone’s mic stand, which was irritating because she didn’t even really need it – she was using a wireless mic. So I didn’t get the kind of wide-angle shots I tend to favor at metal shows, and in fact some of my better shots came from when I stepped away from the front of the stage and sniped from the back with a long lens. Lighting was par for the course for a metal show – pretty crappy and red, but good enough.

For more, check out the full set at Flickr, and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Epica

Epica

Epica

Epica

Epica

For more, check out the full set at Flickr, and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

My last shoot at First Avenue: Dragonforce

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Dragonforce

I’m moving back to Washington, DC in late May (and am likely to re-start the music photography gigs I had there, albeit with a bit lesser frequency), so the show I shot at First Avenue three weeks ago was almost certainly my last time shooting there. It couldn’t have been more over-the-top awesome for photography, as the trio of power metal bands Dragonforce, Holy Grail and Huntress made it easy to get some great shots.

There’s plenty more at the full Flickr photoset, and follow me on Facebook for more of my work.

Dragonforce

Dragonforce

Dragonforce

Dragonforce

Dragonforce

Holy Grail:

Holy Grail

Holy Grail

Holy Grail

Huntress:

Huntress

Huntress

Huntress

Huntress

Huntress

Here’s the full set.

Birthday bash with I:Scintilla

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

I:Scintilla

Chicago’s I:Scintilla, who mix melodic electronic music with tinges of metal, made their first appearance in Minneapolis since 2008 on Friday night, thanks to a friend of theirs who decided to put on a great show for her 30th birthday celebration. (Thanks, Renee.) They were missing two of their members, unfortunately, but that certainly didn’t make itself evident in the music, as their set sounded great. Visually, vocalist Brittany Bindrim and guitarist Jim Cookas both have great stage presence with tons of energy, and combined with Ground Zero’s gorgeous lighting, I got some shots I’m quite happy with. Drummer Vince Grech, unfortunately, was placed extremely far back on the stage with no lights on him, so I have zero drummer shots from this show.

Beforehand, I did a backstage portrait shoot with the three band members who were present (my thanks to all three of them for the shoot). Ground Zero’s backstage area is tiny, and I tried doing some shadowy, creative lighting at first, but after a few shots it became clear that it just wasn’t working. So I slapped a softbox onto my main light, got rid of my other lights, and resorted to an incredibly basic failsafe scheme, lighting the trio nearly straight on with nice, diffuse white light.

I:Scintilla

Here’s an alternate take – both shots have elements that I like. Following are some more favorites I got from the live show. Ground Zero uses colorful LED cans for backlight and two big incandescent cans to provide nice white frontlight. Combined with judicious use of a fog machine, it’s a recipe for beautiful lighting.

If you like these, be sure to check out the full photoset at Flickr, and follow me on Facebook for more of my work.

I:Scintilla

I:Scintilla

I:Scintilla

I:Scintilla

I:Scintilla

I:Scintilla

Local opener Thought Thieves, on the other hand, played in the dark for almost their entire set. They filled the venue with fog and then barely used any lights at all – not even any backlights, so I couldn’t get any silhouette shots. Eventually the fog cleared and the backlights came on, and I was able to get a couple shots towards the end of the set. My favorite is this one:

Thought Thieves

And finally, openers Cwn Annwn had the more typical gorgeous Ground Zero lighting treatment, and I definitely got some great shots of them. They play a kind of melodic metal that was a bit incongruous to the rest of the show (they closed out with a cover of Rush‘s “Subdivisions,” which was unexpected and wouldn’t have been my first choice for a Rush cover, but they did it well). Regardless, the unusual combination worked, and seemed to go over well with the crowd.

Cwn Annwn

Lots more photos over at Flickr.

First concert of 2012: Ghost

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Ghost

I’ve been taking it a bit slower lately, with only one concert under my belt so far this year. That was Ghost, the slightly cheesy but endearingly theatrical Swedish metal band. Shooting their live show weirdly reminded me of shooting Sunn O))), about as different a band as it can get while still remaining in the same overall genre. That is to say: it was all fog, monochrome colors, hooded robes, and silhouettes. Which makes for some dramatic photos, but let’s just say I’m glad not all bands perform in these kinds of lighting conditions.

Some highlights below, and here’s the full set. As always, “like” me on Facebook to keep up with my work!

Ghost

Ghost

Ghost

The excellent proggish-metal band Blood Ceremony opened, and I actually enjoyed their set more than Ghost’s – which isn’t all that surprising given my musical preferences. I suppose it speaks to my roots as a prog fan that I can’t really resist a metal band that prominently features flute.

Blood Ceremony

Blood Ceremony

Blood Ceremony

Swordlord’s Christmas Concert

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Echoterra

Last Sunday, Twin Cities metal promoter “Swordlord” held his last show of the year, showcasing a bunch of local bands and raffling off a gazillion prizes including free admission to all Swordlord shows in 2012 – and this guy does a LOT of shows. I was there to document the evening – highlights below, or check out the full set at Flickr, follow me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter for more.

Before the show started I did a portrait with two of the bands, Echoterra (above) and Alation. The former have a substantial international following in part thanks to vocalist Melissa Ferlaak Koch, formerly the vocalist of Austrian gothic metal band Visions of Atlantis, whom I saw several years ago opening for Epica, I think. My favorite of that set is above – simple V-formation (I have to be careful lest this become a cliche of mine), Speedlights on either side of the band bounced off of white umbrellas.

Below is one of my favorites of Alation; I had a bit more time with them because we got stuck backstage when the first band, Purified, started their set. Tried a few different looks and the most interesting is the below, with their creeptastic stage props playing a big role in my composition. Again, a Speedlight on either side bounced off of umbrellas – I wasn’t going for anything fancy with the lighting that night.

Alation

And then, of course, there was music. We managed to sneak out of the backstage area in time for me to get a couple shots of Purified. Here’s one I like:

Purified

Then Alation was up; they were a pretty neat band whose stage presence was completely dominated by their vocalist Angel Bourgeois. They also had a nifty light show that made for some neat photos, although since it was all backlight it meant that I used a lot of flash for their set. A few good ones below.

Alation

Alation

Alation

Echoterra was up next, and their stage presence was also dominated by their vocalist, although Jonah W on keytar also gave me some pretty dynamic shots. Got way too many great shots of them to post them all here, but these are a few of my favorites:

Echoterra

Echoterra

Echoterra

Echoterra

And finally, Dawn of Valor, a power metal band that also featured a charismatic vocalist. I took off right before their last song, which ended up being a poor choice since apparently Angel from Alation joined them onstage, and I wish I’d gotten photos from that. Still, got some good stuff:

Dawn of Valor

Dawn of Valor

Dawn of Valor

Dawn of Valor

Once again, full set here. Enjoy!

Below the (dim) Lights: Enslaved at Station 4

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Enslaved

I’ve seen the Norwegian progressive black metal band Enslaved several times, but last night was my first time seeing them as a headliner. It was nice to see them dig a bit deeper into their discography as compared to their opening gigs; there was only one pre-Below the Lights track played (from Frost), but every album from there forward was represented. Hearing the new material compared to the older stuff really highlighted how much spacier the band has gotten over the years, with a certain psychedelic element replacing the overt black metal influence in their sound.

Station 4 is Station 4, which is to say, the lighting sucks, so I shot at ISO 6400 exclusively and used my 50/1.4 a lot. Unfortunately, only Grutle Kjellson and Ice Dale were reliably lit to any extent, so almost all of my photos are of the two of them. Here are some highlights; check Flickr for the full set.

Regular reminder: please like my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to keep tabs on my work.

Enslaved

Enslaved

Enslaved

Enslaved

Enslaved

Enslaved

Gabriel and the Apocalypse’s CD release show

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Friday night was a doubleheader for me: first I hit up Kamelot‘s show at Station 4, then I headed to the Cabooze for a CD release show by Gabriel and the Apocalypse. It was a significant show for me because GATA’s new album, New World Disaster, features a portrait of the band that I shot during the promo session we did back in June:

Gabriel and the Apocalypse

The show was fun – a small but enthusiastic crowd, great energy from the band, nice lighting at the Cabooze. My camera was still kind of screwy from all the condensation I’d put it through at the Kamelot show, so unfortunately a lot of my shots are a bit hazy, but I still came away with some good stuff. Frontlight was pretty inconsistent so I busted out the flash for a few shots, many of which ended up being favorites. Here are a few shots I like; check out more at Flickr.

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Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Gabriel and the Apocalypse

The new-look Kamelot

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Kamelot

He’s not Roy Khan, but new Kamelot vocalist Fabio Lione got a warm welcome from fans at Station 4 in St. Paul last night. Playing in oppressive heat (the venue is in a historic building that has no air conditioning), Lione, the rest of Kamelot, and guest vocalist Simone Simons (Epica) ran through a lengthy setlist drawing mostly on the band’s last three albums. I have a pretty strong distaste for power metal, but Kamelot puts on a reliably good live show, and their music is somehow quite a bit less cheesy than most power metal fare. So I count myself as kind of a fan, much to my own surprise, and had a good time.

Every time I shoot at Station 4 I curse the lighting and the stage setup with the stupid pillar in the middle of the pit. Thankfully, Kamelot brought their own lighting; the pillar wasn’t going anywhere, unfortunately. Three songs, no flash, and while I would have liked to have been able to shoot the Simons/Lione duets (none of which took place in the first three songs) from the pit, I was able to snipe away with a telephoto lens later, and got some good shots that way. Below are a few of my favorites.

The usual plug before getting to the photos: see more of my photos from this show at Flickr, and then like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to keep up with my work!

Kamelot

Kamelot

Kamelot

Kamelot

Kamelot

Kamelot

Here’s an example of how the lights were tonight before Kamelot came on with their own lighting rig. This is Blackguard (with guest Alissa White-Gluz from The Agonist, who also played but whom I did not get to shoot unfortunately); this is about as good as the lighting got during their set. I was pretty much at ISO 6400 and slow shutter speeds the whole time.

Blackguard with Alissa White-Gluz