Santa is on stage playing an electric guitar, there's confetti stuck to my lens hood, Andrew Volpe is leading the crowd through a chorus of rocked out power pop, and I'm trying to figure out if the last song was about pterodactyls. That's right, kids: Ludo is in town.
The St. Louis natives extended the Christmas season in a sold-out hometown show December 27 that brought included a dancing ensemble of elves, Mrs. Claus, confetti-filled balloons, giant candy canes, and poinsettias flying through the air.
In a surprise turnout for both the venue and even the band, Ludo drew a rabidly enthusiastic crowd that swelled to 2200, half of which bought tickets the day of the show. With strong opening performances from The Hush Sound, Quietdrive, and Nothing Still, the audience was ideally primed for the headlining performance to come.
Churning through a set that pushed right up until minutes of curfew, the local-boys done good had the crowd singing along from start to finish, spurred on by Volpe's constant mugging and operatic gestures.
Dressed in a dapper three-piece suit, Volpe dominated the stage with a mix of infectious charisma and exaggerated rockstar moves. The frontman rocked the whole gambit, from the power stance to the home-run finger point, as he carved out power chords and delivered everything the fans wanted.
Tim Ferrell on guitar and backing vocals delivered a no-nonsense performance that still displayed obvious relish in his solos and chugging melodies. The guitarist often played facing Marshall Fanciullo across the stage on bass. Fanciullo was the least visible member of the band, preferring the mid-stage to the front, but his bouncing notes cooly drove the anthems from beyond the spotlight.
Stage right, Tim Convy rocked the moog and keyboard from behind a faux fireplace, hyping the crowd with hand claps all while smashing away at enough effects pedals for a lead guitarist.
Matt Palermo kept up a driving beat throughout the night in a tight, crunchy style that was still splashy in all the right places.
I don't know whether it was the seasonal cheer, the love for hometown-heros, or just a perfectly constructed set of driving power pop, but this was nothing but a feel-good set. The perfect way to close down a year of shows.
For the third time in a month, I had the chance to shoot a show with my brother, fellow concert photographer Chris Owyoung of OneLouderPhoto.com. A month before, we'd photographed VHS or Beta in NYC and then Modern Day Zero in St. Louis. Back on my home turf, we'd decided to hit Ludo's performance to round out the year with one last show.
To our surprise and delight, the performance was a complete blast, with big performance all around in a celebratory mood fitting of the season. And truly, I'm an easy sell: any show with confetti canons is A-list in my book.
This was definitely one of the more fun experience of concert photography that I've had. If Ludo is playing a well-lit venue near you, definitely check them out. As long as the lights cooperate, you're in for a fun show.
Overall, the lighting schemes for the set were very straight forward, with no real surprises. The show was marked with fairly plain white light from the front that waned during the middle, but made a strong showing at the start and end of the show.
Complimenting this white light was an array of colored backlighting that drew strongly on blues, oranges, and cool white light.
Though the set was pretty evenly lit, this event was a perfect test for the D3 given the three openers and unlimited shooting time for Ludo. I shot between ISO 200 and 6400 for the majority of the set, with ISO 3200 in particular seeing a lot of action.
Thanks to the great high ISO performance of the D3, I shot comfortably at 1/160 and higher, wit a large portion of shots at 1/200 and 1/250.
I relied solely on zooms for this gig, with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 seeing the most use. The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 also saw some limited action, but the midrange zoom dominated the performance with its utilitarian focal range.