On what I can safely say was the most metal Mother’s Day I’ve personally experienced (yet), Wage War’s “Manic” Tour hit The Paramount in Huntington, NY last Sunday with support from Nothing,Nowhere and Spite. I started my day with my wife and daughter at the aquarium in Coney Island and I ended it in a circle pit at a metal show in Long Island. If that ain’t livin’ I don’t know what is.
However, every rose has its thorn, as Brett Michaels reminds us, and on an otherwise perfect day I was in a bit of a photo funk. But we’ll get into that in a bit.
Bay Area deathcore outfit Spite kicked off the evening with “Lord of the Upside Down” and “Caved In,” the opening tracks from the band’s 2022 release, “Dedication to Flesh.” Though physically positioned away from the front of the stage, the band blasted through 30 minutes of pure, in-your-face aggression.
Frontman Darius Tehrani was perpetually on the move, stopping only to plant his feet so he could get max speed on his epic windmill headbanging before delivering his signature, earth-shaking vocals. The band wrapped their set with “Crumble,” setting the bar high and the tone heavy for the evening of music that lay ahead.
Fresh on the heels of his latest album, “VOID ETERNAL,” Joe Mulherin aka Nothing,Nowhere kept the momentum going with a high energy set. Mulherin leaned heavily into the new record, devoting to it half of the 12 songs on his setlist. During “TRAG3DY,” which features vocals from Will Ramos of Lorna Shore, Mulherin bright out Chamber’s Jacob Lilly to provide some killer substitute vocals.
Nothing,Nowhere has a versatile sound – a mix of emo, hip-hop, metal, and everything in between. Just when you think you have him pinned down, Mulherin shows another side of his sonic identity, another dimension of self-expression that sets him apart from other artists in the genres from which he draws his inspiration.
While the circle pits were in full swing during Spite and Nothing,Nowhere’s sets, Wage War’s set got the crowd circling with an intensity that could have registered on the fujita scale. The band tore through their set with relentless fervor, showcasing an impressive rolodex of bangers to a crowd that knew and loved every note.
I first tuned into Wage War after hearing “Low” from their 2019 album “Pressure.” The vocals, both the clean and the screams, mixed with the raw power of the instrumentation gave me no choice but to listen to the song on an endless repeat. I was excited to hear the band perform the song live and Wage War did not disappoint. The entire set, for that matter, was awesome from start to finish, and was the perfect way to close out the weekend.
We all have off days. It’s a part of life. Still, when you feel it happening it’s hard not to let it get to you. That is especially the case when it comes to concert photography. You obviously can’t ask a band to hold off on playing until you feel ready and able; you have to suck it up and push through.
So you get to the venue, you get your camera out and you’re standing in the photo pit looking at the stage, and nothing is clicking. There is something missing, a certain feeling that’s absence means it’s going to require a lot more effort to get the job done. Or maybe you’re in the right mindset but the show itself is throwing you curveballs left and right and you’re just not thinking quickly enough in the moment to overcome them. Whatever the case, and in mine it was a mix of all of the above, it’s always a bummer when the shots you need feel out of reach.
With digital cameras and high capacity memory cards comes the easy (and often unnecessary) solution to these problems: overshooting. This is the “I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” approach. Because while it is appealing to rely on the law of averages to get your shots, sifting through hundreds of photos when you get home is less so, especially if you’re on a deadline.
Don’t get me wrong, I overshoot all of the time and this show was no exception. What surprised me this time around was how many photos I took (a lot) versus how many were actually usable (not a lot). I was clearly more focused on quantity over quality while I was shooting. I could see proof of it in my photo compositions, or lack thereof, that I was rushing.
We all have our off days, but it’s easy to subconsciously compound your frustration with half-thought solutions. To lean into an approach like overshooting without putting care or thought into the shots you’re taking is like turning on cruise control and expecting the car to steer itself. It’s a wreck waiting to happen. This is to say that it doesn’t matter how many photos that you take, one photo or one thousand; if you aren’t approaching your shots with intention, your results will never be what you want them to be.
Thankfully this time around, despite a great deal of photos remaining on the cutting room floor, I was still able to get some that I’m proud to share. But with them too comes the lesson learned or reminded that photography doesn’t work on autopilot. It needs your eyes, your attention, and your intention.