Ah, the first concert review on Dangit Bee! – and only two weeks late!
I can be notoriously slow at editing photos when there’s no deadline, and let’s not kid ourselves, a self imposed deadline is a goalpost on a moving sidewalk to infinity. Such is the curse that is the blessing of digital photo editing. A photo is never done being edited, you just run out of time, or patience, or both.
So too can be the case, as I’m learning in this very moment, when it comes to writing. There’s always a better way to say something, always one more revision to make. There’s certainly room for growth here. But you’re not here to read a transcription of my internal monologue, you’re here to read for music. And photography. So let’s get into it.
The second of the three “Holidaze Ragers”, Killswitch Engage played The Paramount in Huntington, NY a few weeks back, with Rivers of Nihil, Unearth, and Lybica supporting.
Lybica kicked things off with their melancholic yet hopeful instrumentals, lifting fans into the ether where they remained suspended in joy for the rest of the set (and the night, for that matter). A benefit to shooting bands like Lybica is that longer and more downtempo songs, which are all but guaranteed in the post-rock world, provide a more relaxed pacing while in the photo pit. It’s nice to know you’ll have a bit of time to get the shots you’re hoping to get.
By the way, in the majority of cases where the venue has a dedicated photo pit (the space between the stage and the crowd barrier), photographers are only given the first three songs to shoot from there, so you have to work quickly. We’ll get into that in more detail another time, but it’s worth giving the context.
Lybica was backlit for the majority of the first song so I leaned into that and focused on shooting their silhouettes while I waited for the lights to start moving around a bit.
When lighting is scarce or infrequent, watch for patterns in the movement of the lights, taking note of when it hits the artist, then time your shots appropriately. If the light is particularly illusive, continuous mode coupled with a fast shutter speed can be your best friend. Hold down the shutter to start shooting a second or two prior to when the light will hit, then release the shutter a second or two afterward.
Though never guaranteed, you’ve certainly increased your odds of getting the shot you wanted, and this can help you move on more quickly to the next member.
After a great set closer by Lybica with “Resonance”, Unearth took the stage, conjuring the crowd almost instantaneously into forming a giant circle pit – the first of many, and with good reason. Unearth had a palpable energy and intensity throughout their set.
When a band is thrashing and the vocalist is running all over the place, the shoot will be fun, it will be exhilarating, but it can also feel a bit frantic. You’ll be getting one shot while worrying about all the shots you could be missing.
Sometimes it can help to try and find a flow and stick with it throughout the song. For example, if you find yourself focusing on the vocalist, as we often tend to do, try and get some shots of them, move to the guitarist, back to the vocalist, then the bassist, back to the vocalist, then the drummer, and so on. This will help ensure that you walk away with a variety of shots of every member.
That was the flow I used for Unearth’s performance, as vocalist Trevor Phipps’ stellar energy and crowd engagement had me coming back to him constantly. I’m really glad I got to catch this band live. Favorite song from their set? “My Will Be Done“. Great tune.
There’s a special kind of feeling you get when the band you’re about to shoot is a band that you love. As if the thrill of the shoot isn’t enough, getting to do so while simultaneously listening to songs that are significant on a personal level is an enlightening experience. For me, Rivers of Nihil is one of those bands.
Rivers of Nihil wasted no time launching into “The Silent Life”. I have to tell you that I absolutely love this song. There was a period of a few months that I listened to Where Owls Know My Name on repeat. It was the only thing I listened to for weeks (months?!).
Having knowledge of the intricacies of the songs can be helpful. The better you know the music, the more you can anticipate. Guitar solo coming up? Get over to that side of the stage. Short song? Uh oh, I need to move quickly (remember, only the first three songs!).
On a less technical and more spiritual level, if the song means something to you, I’d argue that you’re going to shoot it in a more meaningful way. You’re no longer shooting a guitar solo, you’re shooting that guitar solo – the one you listened to the whole song just to hear only to play the whole song again. To get to capture a moment like that in time is special indeed.
Rivers of Nihil’s set was a thrill from start to finish. I was particularly excited to have finally been able to hear tracks from their 2021 release, The Work – another great album of theirs that is worthy of your time and attention.
It was time for the main event: Killswitch Engage! From the moment Jesse Leach’s vocals came in on their opening song, “A Bid Farewell“, I was reminded how incredible this band is live. Killswitch Engage pours everything into their performance with a contagious energy and an endearing camaraderie.
My first time seeing Killswitch Engage was at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn back in 2016. Saint Vitus is a 250 cap room; an intimate setting to say the least. I was blown away by how the band managed to feel equally as personable and intimate at Saint Vitus as they did at The Paramount, a room many times larger.
You can feel how much the performance means to them. And when you feel that kind of energy coming from a band, you want to do your damndest to try and reflect that in your shots.
Remember earlier when I mentioned using continuous mode and a fast shutter? Another time that will come in handy: shooting Adam Dutkiewicz. He is constantly on the move, but with a little patience you can grab a jump shot or two. What a fun guy to shoot (and an incredible guitar player too!).
This show was a hell of a way to end 2022, and it’s also a hell of a way to kick off doing concert reviews on Dangit Bee! How’d I do? Did you enjoy it? Did it run a bit long? Thank you for giving this a read either way. I’m figuring it all out as I go along.
2023 is shaping up to be a great year for concerts, and I’m looking forward to covering as many as I can. Catch you at the next one!