Sporting a platinum and diamond chain bearing the initials of his Slot-A-Lot label, hometown rapper Chingy performed a tight and kinetically-charged set at the new Chaifetz Arena.
Out of the starting gates was Chingy's first cousin, protégé, and Slot-A-Lot artist Young Spiffy, who tag-teamed with another hypeman to whip the crowd into shape before Chingy took the stage and throughout the set.
The St. Louis rapper dropped a parade of singles during his high-energy performance, including “Dem Jeans,” “Fly Like Me,” and “Holidae Inn.” The biggest eruption from the crowd, however, came with the closing performance of “Right Thurr,” which Chingy introduced as something to “bring it back to the start.”
Chingy appeared as part of the five-artist bill for St. Louis University's Rock, Rap, and Rawhide event during the opening weekend of the new arena. Barry Manilow performed the inaugural performance the night before.
After shooting from the soundboard for Barry Manilow's performance the night before, Chingy's set was one of the first experiences I had at the front of the stage in the new Chaifetz Arena.
Unlike the Pageant, the arena's house stage is a more modest four-feet high, which changes the dynamics a good deal, especially for performers like Chingy, who made frequent trips to the edge of the stage.
While the difference is only a foot, this translates into a meaningful shift, bringing performers closer and allowing for more applications of wide-angle effects without as severe keystoning.
On stage, Chingy and his crew were in constant motion. With two other photographers in the pit, along with a videographer, it was an exercise just keeping up with the rapper.
We shot for the first three songs.
Two spotlights lit Chingy during the set, with a very nice array of background and supplemental lights coming into play as well. In fact, Chingy's set was one of the better lit sets of the evening, with a nice, bright feel and plenty of variety in the backlighting.
Thanks to the spotlights, I was able to lock down the exposure at 1/400 and f/2.8 at ISO 3200. I could have dropped to ISO 1600, but I wanted the increased stopping power of 1/400. While this shutter speed is pretty blisteringly high for rockers, I've found that this is just about where I like to shoot more active hip hop and R&B performers.
Lenses & Gear:
I shot with the Nikon D3, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. As is evidenced in the shots above and also in the full set below, I utilized the wide angle of these lenses for a lot of the set. Still, I made sure to grab a few tighter shots of Chingy as well, for which the 70mm end of the midrange zoom was perfect.
This set was highly challenging due to the activity on stage, what with Chingy and his crisscrossing support, but it was also flat out fun to shoot. One aspect I really appreciated was the love Chingy showed to his fans, continually reaching out to fans throughout the set.