Fronted by Nick Urata, whose languid croon filled the big hall with a sense of brooding celebration, Devotchka wove an epic set of gypsy punk in the cavernous Terminal 5.
Mixing old-world flair with the throw-down of rock aesthetics, the Denver-based band delivered a crowd-pleasing set that drew notably from their 2008 release, A Mad & Faithful Telling, while also including favorites from their break-out album, How It Ends.
Considering the last time I saw and photographed Devotchka they played in a damp basement venue to a hundred people, this performance was a very nice change of scenery.
This gig was my first shoot in NYC's Terminal 5, but the most exciting opportunity, aside from the venue and the great band, was the opportunity to shoot along aside my brother and fellow concert photographer Chris (www.onelouderphoto.com). Chris and I try and shoot together as often as we can, so when my dates to NYC were confirmed, one of the first things we did was check the listing for gigs.
In all, there were about half a dozen photographers in front of the barricade for Devotchak, but, thanks to the deep pit, there was generally plenty of room to move around for this show.
Now, whether the tiny bit of stage to which one wanted to move was free or not was another matter entirely.
Aside from pit real estate, the other notable considerations for this shoot were the lower 4-foot stage and slightly removed position of the band, who were set back a little over a meter from the front of the stage.
Just the usual spread for this set: first three, no flash.
Lighting for this set was an interesting mix, dominated by cool blue backlighting and a few quick shifts.
Frontman and singer Nick Urata was naturally the best lit member of the group, bathed in a warm front lighting for most of the set. In addition, two spots positioned on the floor flanked the singer for some eerie underlighting, which fired up hot magenta during the third song for the set.
What this relatively generous lighting on Urata translated into, at least for me, was a lot of lens love on the frontman.
Quick, bright flashes of light lit Shawn King while the drummer was at his kit, most notably two quick flashes of white light during the first three songs.
Tom Hagerman and Jeanie Schroder, unfortunately, fared less well with the lighting. Aside from a few moments of warm white light, Hagerman, who switched between the accordion and violin, played mostly in the dark. Similarly, Schroder's lighting was limited mostly to color washes during the first three songs.
Lenses & Gear:
I shot this set using the Nikon D3 and my go-to zooms, the Nikon 24-70mm and the Nikon 70-200mm. These f/2.8 zooms covered most all of the necessary framing for this set, and the telephoto zoom was especially useful for Urata.
At a few moments, I was tempted to whip out the 85mm f/1.4 for the speed, but ultimately the 70-200's flexibility for frame won out.
Exposure & Metering:
I shot at ISO 3200, f/2.8, and 1/200 second for most of this set.
When Urata's magenta underlighting flared up, I spun down to ISO 1600 and upwards of 1/500 second, which still resulted in a lot of blown skintones due to the hot lighting.
Going into the St. Louis show at the Pageant, I aimed to nail this dramatic lighting.
If for some reason you haven't heard these guys, I'd head over to the Hype Machine to give this band a whirl. It doesn't really matter which tracks you pick (they're all good), but I particularly like these cuts:
Stay tuned for round two of Devotchka's 2008 tour when we take things to the Pageant a few days later. Also, don't forget to check out the write-up for opener Basia Bulat, who put on a charming set supporting Devotchka.