Common performed to a near-capacity show at the Pageant last night, rocking the house with socially conscious rhymes with the backing of both a DJ and a live drummer. The night opened with DJ Dummy, who would later support Common onstage, deftly spinning everything from Daft Punk to Jay-Z. The DJ's time on deck proved to be the perfect start to the party and created off a buzz that persisted even through the long half-hour set change before Common's entrance.
By the time the house lights finally went down, Common was met with an enthusiastic welcome as he strode on stage and into the spotlight. The greeting was not wasted and the performer spared no energy as he launched into his show.
The rapper immediately set into action, continuously working the entire length of the stage and pausing only at the middle and extremities to work the already hyped crowd. Without a doubt, Common's performance provided the biggest aerobic workout I've had at a concert as I jogged keeping pace with the rapper. Luckily, I wasn't the only one tracking the performer: in the balcony, two spotlights remain trained on Common throughout his performance, which lit up the stage to relatively epic levels for the venue.
In a venue in where ISO 1600 at f/2.8 and marginal shutter speeds is par for the course, last night's abundant light meant shooting at a noiseless ISO 400 at f/3.5 and 1/250 second. With one essential ingredient in plentiful supply, the technical challenges that remained were in tracking Common and securing clear shots of the energetic performer.
The intensity of the spotlights produced strong contrast and deep shadows. Combined with a close mic position, this lighting made getting a clear shot of the performer's face even more critical. The contrasty light and lack of more atmospheric background effects made for fairly stark visuals, but Common's on-stage bravado needed no help filling the space beyond the spotlight.