May 31, 2009 – Touring for their fifth album, The Hazards of Love, the Decemberists brought their roaring, indie rock juggernaut to the Pageant in epic two-hour set.
This was an interesting show to photograph for a few reasons, but primarily for the lighting. Most of the usable light on the band came from underlighting at the front of the stage. A long strip of LED arrays made up one component, while incandescent cans also added to the mix.
The arrays of LEDs effectively added another foot or so to the height of the Pageant's ~5-foot stage, limiting clear shooting angles to some degree. Due to the added height, I found myself backing up a little more than I might have otherwise in order to shoot from less acute angles.
From a photographic point of view, one thing I would have loved to see to contrast the relatively strong backlighting was more/heavier backlighting. The exposure differential between the uplighting and the rest of the stage lighting just didn't hold up.
Still, one somewhat remarkable thing about this show was the presence of a photo pit at all, in contrast to the band's show last year, where a dedicated shooting area was absent.
Singer Colin Meloy has a very close mic position, so I found that the best shots of him came from a little timing to catch the phrasing where he sang farthest from the mic.
The 24-70mm and 70-200mm on the D3 and D700, respectively, did the trick for this show. The f/2.8 of these lenses were just fine for the lighting, and, due to the limited lines of sight, the range of focal lengths was certainly appreciated.
The rules for this set were first three songs, no flash.