gig photography

Disturbed || The Observatory

Disturbed, the multi-platinum, Nu-Metal legends sold out The Observatory in Santa Ana, California on March 17th, 2016. It was definitely one of the most packed shows I have ever been to. Before any bands started playing, the venue was humid and smelled of sweat and body odor. This only got worse over time. This was the fourth time I’ve seen Disturbed live and it was a very unique experience because every other time I have seen them, its been at a massive amphitheater or outdoor festival with a crowd in the thousands while this show probably only had 1,000. The shows I’ve seen have had massive amounts of smoke, lighting, pyrotechnics, and even moving stage pieces. While this show was toned down on the theatricality, the energy and phenomenal performance were consistent with what I have seen in the past. 

The crowd was constantly on their feet with vocalist David Draiman leading them. Disturbed is possibly has the best crowd interaction of any band I have seen, making each show memorable and unique. My favorite part of this show was in the middle of the set when the band slowed things down, whipped out the acoustic guitars and played “Darkness” and “Song of Silence.” Personally, I love it when metal bands can really nail slow songs because it shows off their diversity and talent. My other favorite part of the show was how Draiman interacted with the crowd on the song “The Light” off of their new album Immortalized. Before he started the song, he instructed everyone to whip out their cell phone flash lights and lighters and wave then high in the sky. The catch was the crowd was only supposed to do this when Draiman said the words “the light” during the chorus. The majority of the song was dark until that moment came and lighters and flashlights illuminated the room in under a second.

Even after playing 17 songs, the crowd was longing for more. With seven full length albums, there is no chance that Disturbed could play every hit song. The set would end up being close to 2 hours long, but I don’t think the fans would mind. They played some of the hits along with material off of their new record. Luckily, their setlist wasn’t too heavily saturated with tracks from Immortalized which would have cut down on some of the crowd favorites. 


Ten Thousand Fists, The Game, The Vengeful One, Prayer, Liberate, Land of Confusion, The Infection, Stupify, Darkness, The Sound of Silence, Inside The Fire, Stricken, The Light, Closer / I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Baba O’Riley / Killing In the Name, Indestructible, Voices, Down With The Sickness

Nightwish || The Grove Anaheim

Next to the Observatory, The Grove in Anaheim is probably my favorite venue to shoot at due to the fantastic lighting, massive open spaces, and accessibility as a photographer. That being said, Nightwish put in an incredible performance at the Grove that was quite refreshing for me. Also, due to the length of Nightwish's songs, I was able to stay in the photo pit longer. Usually the first 3 songs gives me about 12-15 minutes to shoot up front, but this time I probably had around 17-20 minutes.

Coming from Finland, Nightwish has been one of the most well known European metal bands in the last decade. Their highly popular musical style has been categorized as symphonic metal and is unique because of their phenomenal female opera vocals. Lead vocalist Floor Jansen joined the band in 2013 after the departure of Anette Olzon and is currently a permanent member of the band. Having never seen Nightwish live, I had no idea how tall Floor was until I saw her 6 foot 1 inch frame for the first time on stage. She was an absolute pleasure to photograph, giving me so many different faces and reactions along with the rest of the members of Nightwish.

European metal bands, especially Finnish bands have such a different feel from the American bands I usually listen to and shoot. Their chord progressions, vocals, and song structures are completely different from other cultures which truly gives live shows a unique feel. There is more passion from the fans in the crowd and they seem to love paying for concert tickets, merchandise, and the bands albums. I have found that metal heads and fans outside of the US support their bands financially more than most other genres.  The crowd was extremely energetic during the show and Floor Jansen’s stage presence and crowd interaction only helped to improve the show.

For the first time, I experimented with a camera technique called “prisming” where you put a glass prism in front of your camera lens to manipulate the light and image. While I had zero experience doing this, I’m very pleased with the results and will continue to experiment with this. I chose to do this while using my 70-200mm lens in order to blur out as much of the prism as possible. I tried it out with my 16-35mm but I thought the prism was too noticeable in the image. Be ready to see more of this soon!


Shudder Before the Beautiful, Yours Is an Empty Hope, She Is My Sin, Storytime, My Walden, While Your Lips Are Still Red, Élan, Weak Fantasy , Bless the Child, I Want My Tears Back, Nemo, Sahara, Stargazers, Ghost Love Score, Last Ride of the Day, The Greatest Show on Earth (Chapter II: Life; Chapter III: The Toolmaker), The Greatest Show on Earth (Chapter IV: The Understanding; Chapter V: Sea-Worn Driftwood)

Atreyu || Musink 2016

This was the 2nd time shooting Atreyu (the 1st time being my first big show back at The Glass House in September) and it was just as fun as the first. Having released their album “Let Live” after a 5 year hiatus, Atreyu has come back in full force, selling out venues and rocking out hard. Peaking at #26 on the Billboard 200, their new album has been positively reviewed by musicians and fans alike. Singer Alex Varkatzas spent a lot of time interacting with the crowd during the show, making him very difficult to photograph. It was pretty frustrating because I ended up with only one usable picture of him.

However, the rest of the band picked up the slack and filled in beautifully. Brandon Saller, the drummer who also sings during choruses, was spectacular with both his vocals and drumming. His voice sounds the same as it does on the albums which is impressive because he’s drumming at the same time! While the performances were great, the crowd and the lighting felt a bit lackluster compared to previous Atreyu shows. That being said, Atreyu is always fun to see live due to their talent and high energy music.

This was kind of cool though, after the first 3 songs (the only songs you're allowed to shoot in the photo pit) I went to the VIP side stage area to chill and watch the show. Ended up seeing the guys from Avenged Sevenfold coming out to support Atreyu and watch their show. No I didn't go up and say hi. I hate being a creep like that. I just thought it was cool.