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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.