96 Bitter Beings’ “Synergy Destroy Rebuild” tour made it’s stop at Teaneck, NJ’s Debonair Music Hall on Tuesday with local support from Agita. 96BB, which consists of ex-CKY members Deron Miller and Matty J and drummer Tuomas Vuorio, are celebrating the 20th anniversary of CKY’s Infiltrate•Destroy•Rebuild on this tour by playing the album in full.
Let me tell you something. Actually first, let me say that this album being 20 years old makes me feel old as hell. Ok, now what I really want to say is that from the moment I first put Infiltrate•Destroy•Rebuild in my car’s CD player (god dammit, I know), I don’t think I took it out for months. I don’t even think I changed the song; just listened the album from start to finish, over and over again. It’s still a no-skip album for me, although I do find it difficult to not play “Escape from Hellview” on repeat for days on end.
This is all to say that I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to hear the album played live from front to back. Would I love to hear it played live with all the members of CKY together as one? Of course. But I’m not going to get into all of that, nor is it my place to do so. What I am going to get into, however, is the awesome performance that I experienced by 96 Bitter Beings as they paid tribute to this classic record.
New Jersey trio Agita opened the evening with a great set of originals as well as a few covers, including Beatles classic, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The band’s energetic rock sound served as a perfect precursor to the face-melting set that was to come from 96 Bitter Beings.
96BB took the stage as frontman Deron Miller turned his guitar to eleven and welcomed the crowd to Hellview before the band launched into “Escape from Hellview”, kicking off the play-through of Infiltrate•Destroy•Rebuild. Though Debonair Music Hall is an intimate space, the band commanded the stage with a larger-than-life energy, delivering song after song from the album with a passion and excitement that the fans gave right back to them as they sang along to every word.
The crowd got rowdier and the singalongs louder as 96BB made their way through the album one song at a time. I was particularly excited to hear “Sporadic Movement” and was certainly not disappointed. The last line, that scream of “transformation” that Deron Miller sustains for an obscenely long time; he absolutely nailed the delivery, and it was awesome.
After completing the album play-through with “Close Yet Far,” Deron Miller announced to the delight of the fans that the band had plenty of songs left to play. 96BB played a handful of new originals like “Vaudeville’s Revenge” and “Adios Amigo” as well a handful of classic CKY tunes.
Through it all, the band took time between the songs to connect with the fans. At one point a fan even joined 96BB onstage to play guitar during “The Human Drive in Hi-Fi” while Deron Miller delivered the vocals. It was a cool moment that showed just how much the band appreciates the fans and how much the fans appreciate the band.
96BB closed with the legendary “96 Quite Bitter Beings” before taking a bow and sending the crowd home happy and full of nostalgia, myself included – though I also had a few memory cards full of photos as well!
There is nothing better than being in a situation where you love the band you’re shooting and you aren’t limited to the typical three songs from the pit – such was the case for this performance. I took photos from the first song to the last, multi-tasking my love of concert photography and my love for 96BB and CKY’s music.
Though I was able to get close to the stage, I used my 70-200mm lens for most of the show. I liked the effects that the telephoto had on the lights and banner behind the members. The compositions just felt better. That said, I did throw on my 24-70mm from time to time to grab a few wide shots, especially when Deron Miller and Matty J were rocking out in synchronous head twirl mode or when they were interacting with the crowd.
Having access to the side of the stage made it a lot easier to get shots of Tuomas Vuorio. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseam at this point, I’m still finding my best practices in capturing drummers.
I still haven’t found consistent ways to shoot them or had consistent luck in getting shots that I really like. I tried to take my time for this show given that I had the time and the vantage point and got some shots I was happy with. The positioning of the amps and a few pedals allowed me use them for some extra texture and depth which I think makes the photo more interesting the look at.
I had an absolute blast shooting this show. I came out with plenty of shots that I like and the process of capturing them was as low stress as it gets. More nights like this, please!