Geek speak – gear I used was a simple kit of a Nikon D7000 DSLR (Amazon | eBay) body, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (Amazon | eBay) plus Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor (Amazon | eBay), SB-800 speedlight (Amazon | eBay) turned down to 1/128th power for some shots. Mix of slow shutter speeds, rear curtain flash sync, high ISO settings, fill flash and dumb luck being in the right place and anticipating some cool stuff.
(1 part finding a post in the drafts folder, 1 part nostalgia for the old hangout downtown, 1 part chicken logo – shake & enjoy)
What to do on the way home from shooting 10 hours of wedding fun on a hot muggy day? Stop by a sweaty hot back room hardcore band debut show at Generic downtown. (I mean at that point I already needed a serious shower and had camera gear handy from a wedding shoot so if ever I was prepared for such a show it was that moment.)
If you like our Facebook page these photos and more came across your feeds last November when The Almost were in town. Nothing like a good local basement venue show to get up close and personal to enjoy the music. The girls fans loved being feet away from lead singer Aaron and the band too, and I’m always a fan of free reign to shoot from wherever I prefer. Here’s a couple of favorite shots from Aaron Gillespie, former drummer of Underoath, and The Almost’s stop at Church of the Heartland in South Bend’s own River Park neighborhood.
When a concert promoter friend of mine texted me “man u have to see these guys’ road production stuff” I grabbed a camera and headed over to check out Attaboy & News From Verona’s Everything Matters Tour stop in Plymouth. The tour’s free (donations welcome!) and my experience of most bands bringing gear consisted of boxes to stand on that had flood lights in them, not much else.
From a production geek standpoint, I was impressed. It upstaged the lighting gear from most the local shows I’ve rigged and worked, pretty slick setup.
If geeking out over production setups isn’t your thing, here’s something everyone can appreciate: a show that looked as good as it sounded! And when a show looks good, it photographs all the better. Here’s a few favorites to illustrate.
News From Verona
This guy Grifin was having such fun in the front row they recruited him to rock out on stage for a song.
Kingston Falls was one of the first local hardcore bands I remember hearing as well as mixing at old Underground Cafe shows. It was a weekend of reminiscing with music between seeing Kingston Falls again Friday and Analecta Thursday. I’ve seen Analecta’s bassist Calvin all around local music since the old Underground shows. Now that I’ve got plenty of loud music ringing in my ears this week it’s time for some office work, family time, and football this weekend.
Last shot of the whole Kingston Falls set, looks like the mic is out of reach.
One shot from Close Your Eyes. It was my first time seeing them and I wouldn’t mind having them in another show soon. There’s a similar version of this shot in the header slideshow on our blog – check it.
Update 11/28/10 -The same gear I took to this show is quickly becoming my lightweight concert photography gear kit I use most:
Nikon D700 for high ISO low light shots (ISO3200 when dim, less when there’s adequate lighting)
Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF wide angle
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF macro for closeups on tight stages
Earplugs – get close to the speakers and amps for tight spots to shoot from without losing your hearing
Walking to a good angle. Sometimes you gotta walk in front of people or *gasp* up on the edge of the stage for a better-than-camera-overhead-at-arms-length shot. (See next step for bonus tip)
Knowing people helps. Make friends with promoters, bands, and of course, the production crew. This makes creeping up onstage a little less likely to get you blasted by the guy running the fogger or moved back by stagehands. (I’ve run the fogger and been a stagehand… trust me on this one.)
Last night I dropped by Generic in downtown South Bend to catch Analecta play a live set. Decided to play with my Nikon D700’s high ISO settings in low light. I positioned myself in an open spot across from most of the moving lighting where pretty much all the light was above and behind the bassist up front. It would make your eyes crazy after a few minutes, not to mention mess with a camera’s autofocus. Perfect spot for test shots. The D700 locked focus excellently even in very harsh backlight on top of all the less-than-ideal setings. Seriously – concert lighting is rarely rigged for photography, which makes it all the more fun to find and make good shots in dodgy lighting.
Nikon D700 with 24mm lens. ISO 3200, 1/25th sec @ f/2.8
10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye lens – 1/4 sec exposure at f/3.5 to burn in some of the color. Not even the black ceiling is that dark any more.
Early this winter while working with friends Judah at Fourth Tribe concerts and Jake at the River Bank venue to plan spring concert productions, I got let in on a big secret: Jake planned on proposing at the show. (Insert wailing guitar here!)
I gotta say he was looked pretty nervous while Armana Reign played and he waited to grab the mic before Haste the Day’s headlining set.
Jake greets the crowd, has the staff introduce themselves one by one, and when the last one was done he asked her to come back up. Still held it together pretty well at this point. Grabs the mic and re-introduces Jessica as his girlfriend and says “I’ve got a question for you…” drops the mic, drops to one knee, and gets the hugest smile ever while asking her to marry him. Everyone who could see the stage area went nuts cheering!
Most. AWESOME. Moment. Of. The. Night. – she said YES!
I’ve got to hear some pretty cool engagement stories but up till then hadn’t been in the same room or only a few feet away when the question was asked. WOW. It was crazy amazing excitement everywhere. People were flipping out…
And of course, Haste the Day played an awesome finale to this amazing day.
Busy week around here. Counting down a very busy November of my daughter’s birth, lots of events, concerts and holidays ahead!
I’m thankful for friends. Friday night the guys from the Underground Cafe ran production for one of our favorite returning bands, Haste the Day. Always a blast to have them in town! Some of the best crew to hang out and work with too.
Everyone’s nostalgic these days as we count down the final week until the Underground’s LAST SHOW – Rockfest 6. While setting up the show we played songs by some of our favorite bands that graced our basement, auditorium and area gyms rocking our speakers. Our resident audio tech Mark (front right in the above photo) has been working shows with me since… 2002-2003? It’s been ages, pretty much since the cafe started having live music.
Turns out he’s mixed a ton of signed, touring, national bands… before turning 21 last summer. He named off a bunch of bands he ran audio for and his ages ending in “teen” – pretty crazy we had teenagers running concert audio and lighting for all these years. Good help is hard to find, that’s for certain, and the Underground Cafe has had a wonderful 8 year streak of finding AWESOME help.
Thanks Mark, Judah, Devin and the folks that showed up to make the show a great night!