REVIEW: Spotlights, The Phantom Eye, Civilian Camo at Saint Vitus | 06.24.2023

Following the success of their amazing new album, Alchemy For The Dead, post-metal trio Spotlights brought their massive North American tour to a close with a hometown show at the legendary Saint Vitus. The band was joined by fellow local acts The Phantom Eye and Civilian Camo as well as a packed crowd of fans ready to give Spotlights a proper welcome home.

The Show

Noise rock duo Civilian Camo kicked things off with a rapid fire set of heavy tunes. The band’s songs packed quite a wallop particularly for being just two members. Frontman Ian Wiedrick’s guitar tones created a depth of sound and intensity that paired well with Christy Peixoto’s thrashing drums.

Civilian Camo released a self-titled album last summer and the songs hit just as hard in the studio recordings and they did when I experienced them live. It’s a great record that’s worth a listen.

The Phantom Eye were up next and they delivered a powerful set showcasing the band’s unique blend of doom metal and psychedelia. There were moments both heavy and light, each timed with perfection to deliver the most impact.

Phantom Eye’s 2021 album, “Chromesthesia” is a beautiful sonic journey that I’ve had on repeat since the show. I’m looking forward to hearing more from them, hopefully in the very near future.

When Spotlights took the stage to close out the evening, they dove right into their set with “Until the Bleeding Stops.” Frontman Mario Quintero’s guitar soared through the walls of Saint Vitus while Sarah Quintero’s bass and Chris Enriquez’s thundering drums shook the floor beneath us. The band needed no time to warm up; they were at full passion from the start.

Midway through the performance bassist Sarah Quintero took a moment to soak it all in and to express her appreciation to the crowd; a sentiment that was reciprocated by the crowd through raised horns and excited cheers. Spotlights tore through the remainder of their set before ending the night with a stellar performance of “Ballad in the Mirror.”

The Shoot

After sending my new Canon R5 in for repairs last week, I was back to one body and two lenses. Thankfully, given Saint Vitus’ intimate size, this wasn’t going to be an issue as the 24-70mm lens would likely be all that I needed. The telephoto could come in handy for some shots from the back of the room however, so I brought the lens anyway. Ever the over preparer, I also bought a collapsible stool just in case the telephoto scenario presented itself. Lastly, I brought my Godox V1C spedlight to counter the traditionally dim stage lighting.

My biggest excitement with having the speedlight was that I would have an opportunity to play around with using the flash and a slow shutter to achieve some motion blur and light trails like in this photo:

I’ve always liked this stylistic choice for shows, particularly punk and metal. For whatever reason I’d never played too much with the approach myself, but better late than never. I had so much fun doing it this time around that it will be built in to my process moving forward (whenever flash is allowed, of course).

The room was packed when Spotlights was playing and it limited my ability to move across the stage to get different vantage points. Fans were kind enough to make room but there is a limit to their patience I was sure, and I did not want to test it so I stayed put for the most part. I was having a hard time getting a proper angle of bassist Sarah Quintero, however, and suddenly remembered that I had my telephoto and stool. I could just go to the back of the room and get all the shots I needed. Or so I thought.

After making my way to the soundboard, I stood on my stool and held up my camera only to realize that there was no way I would be getting anything usable from this vantage point. My initial spot was infinitely better, and it was surely filled by another fan by now, so I would have no choice but to come up with a different idea. Moving across the room and along the wall, I found my way towards the stage to a spot with a good perspective of Quintero. The timing was on point as right when I got situated, Quintero made her way over to frontman and husband Mario Quintero and the two leaned into each other for a photo-worthy moment.

I was excited to pick up a new, better-late-than-never approach to using a speedlight and as a result feel more confident and motivated to shoot more flash-allowed shows in the future.

Next up, Emperor and Devil Master at Kings Theatre. See you there!

Spotlights Setlist Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, NY, USA 2023, Alchemy For The Dead