Billy Talent @ the Pageant — 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

In a thrashing, powerhouse set, Billy Talent served as the perfect high-energy opener for headliners My Chemical Romance in their sold-out show.

Lead by a seemingly tireless Ben Kowalewicz, the Canadian group stormed through a 45-minute set that had the pit heaving from start to finish.

Aside from a tight, driven performance, the band's frontman interjected bits of charming stage banter throughout the set.

I was impressed when Kowalewicz stopped mid-song during a particularly rough bit of moshing on the floor. The frontman asked, “How is everyone doing? Is everyone OK?” Pointing into the pit, he added, “It looks like someone is badly hurt.”

“Look, this isn't a Limp Bizkit concert, OK? This is a My Chemical Romance concert, and a Billy Talent concert. Which means we take care of each other.”

Addressing the rowdy males in the audience, Kowalewicz continued, “Woman care about the size of your heart, not the size of your muscles or your cock.”

The singer paused before adding, with a twisted smile, “Unless you're me, and you have all of those things.”

Set highlights included “Devil in a Midnight Mass,” “Red Flag,” and “This Is How It Goes.”

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Billy Talent @ the Pageant -- 2008.05.03

Photographer's Notes:

I'd heard that Billy Talent put on a great live shot, but I was still impressed with the mix of on-stage energy with the personable banter put forth by Kowalewicz.

A fat stack of monitors at the front of the stage, which ran edge to edge with no gaps, added a new element to this shoot, raising the effective height of the stage from five-feet to over six.

The lead singer, with his habit of perching on the monitors, presented the subject with the clearest sight lines, and often the best light. Hidden behind the monitors, Aaron Solowoniuk was nowhere to be seen. Guitarist Ian D'Sa did get a leg up on the monitors on a few occasions for a few photo opportunities.

The ground rules for this set were first three, no flash.


Much of the lighting for this set consisted of red and blue washes from the front accented by magenta or white light from the back. The white light came in short spurts, which died down as quickly as they flared up.

Exposure & Metering:

I shot at ISO 6400 for the entire set at f/2.8. Shutter speeds ranged from 1/100 to 1/320, but the majority of the images were made at 1/250.

Lenses & Gear:

I shot with the Nikon D3 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 for much of the set. While I had anticipated shooting with the 14-24mm, the added height of the monitors added too much distance to the band, rendering the ultra-wide useless for this set.

Towards the end of the set, I shot with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 to pick up some more profile shots of Kowalewicz. Luckily, during the third song there was a greater portion of white light as well.

End Notes:

While this set was highly challenging, it was only a taste of the difficulties to come. Regardless, I had a blast shooting this set.

Which is entirely as it should be, especially considering Ben Kowalewicz's suggestion during the show: “Have as much fun as you possibly can, because life is too fucking short.”

Stay tuned for shots from headliners My Chemical Romance, folks, dropping tomorrow.

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon Z 7:
I use two Nikon Z 7 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all mirrorless camera with amazing AF, great speed and fantastic resolution.


Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8S:
The 24-70mm is my go-to lens. The range is ideal for stage front photography and the image quality is superb.


Nikon 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 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.

See My Full Kit for Concert Photography

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