In the moments before Angels and Airwaves take the stage, the pit is packed to capacity, and even the few people who are pulled over the barricade at the front due to heat exhaustion do little to alleviate cramped quarters.
The people are the front are begging roadies for water, one girl has bruises in the making on her forearms from being jammed against the barricade, and there are male friends who look conspicuously uncomfortable about the physical arrangement and proximity in which they now find themselves.
And yet, as the familiar synth lines from “Call To Arms” fluttered in over the house sound system and Tom DeLonge takes the stage, the pit lights up with a hungry cheer and the sardine-tight situation is the last thing on its member's minds.
Touring in support of their late 2007 release I-Empire, Angels & Airwaves threw down a mix that drew heavily from that sophomore album while still including fan-favorites from their debut, We Don't Need to Whisper. Highlight tracks from the new album included the lead-off “Call to Arms,” “Sirens,” and “Secret Crowds.”
As is par for the course, I had the first three songs up front in the pit, which flew by with the anthemic rock of Angels & Airwaves. After disappointing lighting for the openers, I wasn't sure what to expect for this set other than quickly changing lighting schemes and plenty of epic, stadium-ready rock moves from Tom DeLonge.
The biggest challenge for this set was DeLonge's constant motion as he hit his poses, which made composition an interesting challenge. Frame the shot too tightly and one cuts off the arms. Stay too wide waiting for DeLonge to go big, and the frame can be a too loose for any intermediate shot.
Still, I found that perseverance was a necessary approach to this set that did pay off for all the key shots.
Due to the difficulty of photographing DeLonge, I made the executive decision to concentrate on the former-Blink 182 frontman, at the expense of the supergroup's other members.
The first song started out with flashes of white light that eventually gave way to warm backlighting, with plenty of strobes thrown into the mix. The second and third songs were graced with magenta lighting from the sides, alternating with a little turquoise added for contrast.
Overall, as expected, the changes were very fast, and what light there was came punctuated with complete darkness.
Lenses & Equipment:
The first song started off relatively dark and put me at 1/200 and f/2.8 at ISO 5000. The second and third songs were a little brighter, and I dialed down to around 1/200 at f/2.8 and ISO 3200.
For anyone shooting this show, to paraphrase M. J. Fox, watch for the changes and try to keep up.
Here's the set list from the night: