REVIEW: Pierce The Veil, The Used, Don Broco, girlfriends at The Rooftop at Pier 17 | 06.13.2023

Pierce The Veil and The Used’s Creative Control Tour brought them back to The Rooftop at Pier 17 last Tuesday for their second sold out show at the venue in just over a week. Don Broco was on hand as support for both shows while girlfriends joined the lineup as additional support for this stop as well as for the remainder of the tour.

The Show

The sun was shining and the vibes were just as warm when girlfriends took the stage to kick off the evening. The pop punk outfit delivered a high energy set that featured a performance of the title track from their EP “Over My Dead Body,” released last month.

Frontman Travis Mills describes the band as “an outlet for soulful expression and emotional catharsis”, both personally and for others that feel the same. It was clear that girlfriends’ message had been received by and resonated with those in attendance, as they greeted the band’s songs with raised arms and voices, singing along to every word.

Don Broco kept the good times rolling as they opened with “Pretty” and vocalist Rob Damiani showed off his rolodex of killer dance moves. An incredibly fun frontman, Damiani commanded the crowd with an energy that was further amplified by his bandmates equally engaging performances.

Don Broco’s setlist featured songs from their albums “Amazing Things” and “Technology”, released in 2021 and 2018 respectively. The band closed with “T-Shirt Song” before turning things over to emo legends The Used.

On a stage covered in roses, The Used delivered a career-spanning set filled with tracks from their new album, “Toxic Positivity” as well as plenty of old favorites.

I still remember the first time I heard The Used. I was in the backseat of my friend’s dad’s Volvo as he was drove us to high school. It was way too early in the morning and no one had the energy to say a word. In lieu of coffee and in need of life, my friend sluggishly opened a jewel case, took out a CD and slid it in the player, the first notes of “Maybe Memories” breaking the silence.

There was still no talking in the car; just the lyrics of vocalist Bert McCracken delivered only as he can. I was mesmerized. I bought the album that afternoon and to this day, The Used’s self-titled debut remains a no-skip album for me.

When I first saw the band live in 2004 during the Projekt Revolution Tour in Charlotte, NC I sang “Blue and Yellow” at the top of my lungs. 19 years later, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do it again. McCracken noted that the performance of the song is a rarity these days, so I felt particularly lucky to have been able to have the experience again.

Rock heavyweights Pierce The Veil brought the house down and the night to an end with an epic set that had heads banging and crowd surfers flowing in rapid succession. After opening with “Death of an Executioner,” the first track off the band’s new album, “The Jaws of Life,” Pierce The Veil turned it to eleven and tore through classic “Bulls in the Bronx” and future classic “Pass the Nirvana,”

Pierce The Veil’s set spanned the “Selfish Machines”-era through today, treating fans to an unforgettable performance, particularly for one lucky fan who received a guitar from Vic Fuentes; a priceless keepsake in what will almost certainly be a core memory for the fan. Music is made for moments like that.

The Shoot

Though I feel pretty comfortable with my new dual camera setup, there are still some growing pains for me to manage. Two cameras means two batteries and two sets of memory cards; it was hard enough to keep those prepped for one camera much less two. I felt the effects when I was getting prepped for girlfriends and had to do an unexpected battery swap leaving me only one fully charged backup battery for two cameras. Then I discovered I hadn’t wiped the memory cards; no big deal except when you aren’t 100% sure that you’ve backed up said cards. I can be 99.99% sure I have and I’ll still hold my breath when wiping the card in fear of losing photos. Note to self: handle all of this before the show instead of before the first band goes on.

I started the evening in shutter priority (Tv mode on a Canon and S mode on a Nikon), with my ISO set at 100 and my shutter set at 1/250. Though the sun’s brightness was consistent, I liked to allow for my aperture to adjust should there be any change in light while keeping my ISO as low as possible and my shutter at a comfortable speed. These settings worked for both girlfriends and Don Broco. When The Used took the stage, the sun had started to set so there was still plenty of light, just not as much. I boosted my ISO to 400 and that was that.

By the time Pierce The Veil took the stage, the sun had set and the stage lighting became the primary source. I switched my cameras to Manual mode, kept the shutter at 1/250, opened the aperture to f/2.8, and set the ISO to Auto (with cap at 3200). This allowed me to keep a comfortable setting, set my aperture to allow for as much light as possible, and then let my ISO fill in where needed, within reason. The settings served me well and my only real challenge was navigating back and forth from one side of the stage to the other.

The stage at Pier 17 is large and the photo pit is small, so when you’re sharing the space with security and a slew of other photographers, you have to work with the assumption that once you get from one side of the stage to the other, you might be stuck on that side for the rest of your time for that band. There is also no photos allowed beyond those first three songs in the pit so every shot counts.

All in all I felt good with how my photos turned out. I’d say I’m the most critical of my shots of Pierce The Veil although at the same time they produced one of my favorite shots of the night (check out that air!):

That’s it for this one. Got a break over the next week and then will be back at it with Spotlights at Saint Vitus. See you there!

girlfriends Setlist The Rooftop at Pier 17, New York, NY, USA 2023
Don Broco Setlist The Rooftop at Pier 17, New York, NY, USA 2023