I got back into my comfy shoes and received my dose of metal when Europeans, Hammerfall and Delain co-headlined the Agora Theatre last Thursday. The biggest treat I've been waiting for was seeing Elantris (formally Blackthorne) perform for the first time. Back in early March, Elantris hired me to photograph their promos for their upcoming tour later this year with Epica and Lacuna Coil. The show was originally slated to be in the Ballroom, but when I heard they were moving it to the Theatre, I got overly excited. Now I could capture more professional shots and avoid being bopped around in the crowd. And when things couldn't get better, I found myself with a photo pit all to myself! Elbow room and all. Below is my full photo review from that night.
The Agora Theatre
A month ago, I heard the metalcore/goth band, Motionless In White were coming to the Cleveland Agora and I instantly thought to myself, "this would be a crazy show to shoot". They're still new to me, but first got wind of them when the band played on stage with Rob Zombie at the Alternative Press Music Awards this year. And since Halloween seems to be their favorite time of the year, I thought this would be an special show to attend. The Devil Wears Prada also co-headlined the evening with The Color Morale, The Word Alive, and Upon A Burning Body as the night's openers.
I did get to test out some new gear that night. Well, not camera wise which you're probably thinking, but new ear plugs by the company, Dubs. Labeled as 'Acoustic Filters', they reduce volume without sacrificing the clarity of sound. So basically the plugs reduce the bass you hear in a concert so you can focus more of the actually music. They have a 12 decibel Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) to help protect your ears. I did find them a tad uncomfortable later in the night, but I'm sure since this is my first time using them, I need to break them in more. For $25, I'm a happy user and will continue to be my safety net for protecting my ears. If you're interested, you can buy them here at Amazon, which is where I got mine.
The Color Morale (Rockford, IL)
Nothing too extraordinary to say about The Color Morale's set. One instance to mention, about half way through the band's first song, Garret (lead singer) stopped the show as he noticed a member of the crowd suffering from a seizure. Needless-to-say, they only got play a 15 minute show, but kudos for the band stepping up and making sure fans were safe.
The Word Alive (Phoenix, Arizona)
The Word Alive really was the best among the three openers. Telle Smith's voice was unparalleled. He hit a wide range of tones from hardcore screams, to a soft melodic approach. Rare to find a singer who can spread the vocal range on that kind of scale.
Upon A Burning Body (San Antonio, Texas)
I was fairly disappointed in Upon A Burning Body's set. Horrible sound. All muffled and even my new earplugs couldn't clarify on what was being sung. I did hear they had a bad sound check, so I'm sure that was the case. Another flop was how they ended the night. The band covered Lil Jon's, "Turn Down for What" in their own metalcore approach. I really don't understand the thought of closing a night with a song that was so out of left field from their typical genre. Bodies were still being hurdled over the barricade, so I'm sure the fans didn't care too much.
Restrictions to shoot only the first 3 songs posed a problem with Upon A Burning Body. Mostly all red lights filled the stage and had me really waiting a few key moments for a flicker of white or blue light to complement skin tones so I could come away with a decent filled photo.
The Devil Wears Prada (Chicago, IL / San Diego, CA)
The performance of the night goes to The Devil Wears Prada. Holy shit were these guys awesome! The stage presence of the flickering lights along with the ferocious screams from their lead singer, are what made this a category 5 performance. They played continuous set without breaking between songs until about 3/4 of the performance, Mike greeted the crowd and showed their appreciation.
My best images from shooting live music came from these guys. Wow! I now have the hard decision on which photo or photos to add to my portfolio. It's nice to come home and flip through your images to find, you're going have some nice prints hanging on your wall. Cannot wait to start updating my Wall of Rock.
Motionless In White (Scranton, Pennsylvania)
Much of Motionless In White's show relied heavily on lights and stage props to dramatize the band's dark, lifeless look. Few of the members came out in Halloween masks, but I know their bassist ("Ghost" Sola) pretty much wears one most of the time. He was sporting his usually Michael Myers masks that he wears a lot from previous shows. Little disappointed in Chris' stage threads for the evening. He did come out in his usual all black with spandex pants equipped with platform boots, but it all seemed a bit lazy.
The stage lights and strobes were phenomenal as they flickered throughout the theater with a fog cannon pouring out onto the crowd. Another significant mentioning, M.I.W. covered Linkin Park's "One Step Closer" with their own metal rendition. A great memorable night and excited I got to see these guys. They didn't disappoint.
My bad ass metal friend, Chris was able to hook me up and grant me access to shoot Sabaton and Nightwish at the Agora Theatre in downtown Cleveland. I've never actually shot in their theatre, since it's reserved for bigger touring acts and not too many shows get green lit for that area and are most often shown on their Ballroom stage. The theatre is currently getting remodeled and I was very impressed with the new additions the venue is upgrading. I heard it's competing to be the best venue in Cleveland. I too, think it's holding up.
SABATON (Falun, Sweden)
Delain, Sabaton, and Nightwish opened a sold out crowd at the Agora Friday night. Sadly, I missed Delain's performance as I was having trouble getting pit access, but able to make it for Sabaton.
Never heard of Sabaton too much, but as soon as their lead singer came out with his signature shades and semi-shaven hair cut, I immediately recognized the dude. A metal band straight out of Sweden, their lyrics are mostly about military and historical wars (preferably WWII).
I'll put it out there right. Sabaton brought it that evening. The most crowd pleasing and energetic band I've photographed. Hands down! I really enjoy the segment where the lead singer brought two little girls from the crowd on stage and let them become part of the band through one of their songs.
NIGHTWISH (Kitee, Finland)
The melodic metal group out of Finland also didn't disappoint either. Their flashy light show really added atmosphere to the night, along with their grotesque props on stage. I'm glad I did my research, because I decided to look up some recent tour performance videos on Youtube. So if flashy strobes disturbed you, this may be a tough show to watch. Just to be warned.
Check out some of my favorite shots of their show.
Overall, I was impressed with the show and the whole venue. I would like to thank Larry of the Agora for granting me the press pass to shoot these bands. This show was definitely a memorable experience for me. I think the next time, I will bring along a small stand to stand on. The stage was up to my chest and I didn't anticipate standing on my tippy toes for most of the show.
Tantric headlined the evening at the Agora Theatre in Cleveland Wednesday. I remembered listening to these guys back in my high school days and kind of lost interest in them over the years. Hugo, their only founding member left, put on a emotional show, playing a lot of the old stuff with new material that blended into a great night.
I got permission to shoot the band, Entendre Wednesday night at the Agora in Cleveland as they opened up for Tantric. The band's manager, RC hooked me up on covering the evening and came away with a huge grin on my face. This was my second time shooting Entendre and every time they perform, they light the stage on fire. It's great to have a dedicated manager to get these guys opening for bigger acts.