The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant — 2008.01.26

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Greg Puciato and the rest of The Dillinger Escape Plan take the stage calmly enough, but seconds into their set, we're being crushed by an assault of hyper-technical riffs, complex time-signatures, and the end-is-here urgency of the hulking frontman's vehement vocals.

In a concert featuring three metalcore bands, the super-technical performance of Dillinger Escape Plan was easily the most brutal in a set combining an explosive degree of physical recklessness with raw musical ability.

Between Ben Weinman‘s meticulous speed riffing, new drummer Gil Sharone‘s mechanical exactitude, and Puciato's savage vocal delivery, TDEP's live show was an utterly visceral experience that ranks among the most raw and frenetic I've seen.

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.26

Shooting Notes:

This is definitely one of the most challenging sets I've photographed by virtue of the sheer activity on stage. At the front of the chaos was singer Greg Puciato, whose intimidating physical frame seamed to spring across the stage in a series of contortions and lunges. Guitarist Ben Weinman provided an equal amount of activity and presence, playing at the front of the stage and getting air with guitar kicks with every opportunity he could.

If anything, this performance seemed to compound the two critical constraints of concert photography: low light and fast action. Coming back after the show, I was somewhat surprised by the number of images, few as they were, that turned out from the set.

This performance was photographed from a wide pit with three other photographers and several security personnel.

Lighting:

Lighting for the first three songs was almost entirely made of up of dim blue backlighting, accented by a set of three illuminating platforms at the front of the stage. These box platforms featured warm-white under-lighting and were similar to what other bands like Bleeding Through and Avenged Sevenfold have used in the past.

The main challenge of these stage-planted light sources is that, of course, illumination depends entirely on the subject's placement directly above them. Under more conventional shooting circumstances a band like TDEP would be difficult enough to photograph, but the challenge of static light sources made such active subjects all the more challenging.

Luckily, Puciato and Weinman performed a fair amount on the light boxes, even if much of this occupation took the form of spastic bouts of musical chairs that saw the two switching off and in constant motion.

In addition to the backlighting and light boxes, the band had two crate-like lighting rigs in their speaker stacks that features four lights each, which flared up and provided some hot white light periodically throughout the set.

Sharone's entire drumkit was rigged with internal lighting, so the drum heads glowed a hot white and provided varying degrees of illumination for the drummer.

Lenses:

I used the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 14-24mm f/28 for this set. The wide angle of both lenses was especially for dealing with the high activity and unpredictable movements on stage. I used 70mm a few times to pick up drummer Gil Sharone (who is destroyed it, by the way), but beyond that, I mostly shot below 32mm.

Exposure:

For this set, I shot between ISO 6400 and ISO 8000, with shutter speeds between 1/160 and 1/320 at f/2.8. If I were shooting these guys again, I'd cranked up the shutter speeds even more and go up to HI-1 (ISO 12800) to squeeze out a little more freezing power.

End Notes:

To be honest, this is one performance that had me shaking my head. Not about the raw assault on my eardrums, but for the sheer technical difficulty of the shoot. To anyone shooting these guys on the current tour, good luck.

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon D850:
I use two Nikon D850 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all DSLR with amazing AF, fast response, and no shortage of resolution.
nikon-24-70mm-f28-lens-squareNikon 24-70mm f/2.8:
For most gigs, the 24-70mm is my go-to lens. Exceptional image quality at wide apertures and super-functional range.
Nikon-70-200-squareNikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.
nikon-14-24mm-f28-lens-squareNikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.
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