review

Huangshan Mountains

First thing in the morning, I took an hour and a half taxi for 185¥ and ended up at a town near Huangshan Mountain. I met a Chinese national named Allen who became my travel companion. We took a bus to get inside where the driver was basically whipping us around hairpin turns for 20 mins. That cost 20¥. Getting inside the park and a gondola ticket was another 310¥. The gondola ride was unlike anything I had ever seen. That alone would have been worth the 330¥. 

This pic reminds me of Jurassic Park

Because I left my old lodgings behind, I took my suitcase with me. This turned into quite the hassle when hiking the mountainous trails of Huangshan. Eventually we made it to a hotel where Allen had a reservation and he booked one for me as well. The amount of stress that took off my shoulders was immaculate. He even paid the 300¥ for the room for me and tole me to send him money over PayPal when I got back to the states. He did this because he's an amazing human being and he wanted to make sure I had enough cash to last me the rest of the trip. Seriously Allen was a Godsend. Once my hotel was booked, Allen bounced. I left the heavy pieces of my luggage in my hotel room and headed out to see some of the Hunagshan Mountains. 

I started maybe around 2pm and went along the Xihai Grand Canyon. It seriously makes the US Grand Canyon look like child's play. Not in size, the US still has that one, but in sheer, stunning beauty. Absolutely magical. Several times I launched my drone to get some areal shots of the canyon. There was a lot of interference due to the massive rocks in the area (or so I think), so flying it was not the easiest task. Some of the cement walkways were hugging the side of the mountain, as were most of the hikers. You would see the walkways coming up and notice there was nothing supporting them from underneath. Luckily there were railings and the cement was sturdy. However if the cement failed or someone fell, it would be an utter miracle if they came out alive. No risk no reward. 

Everyone was fascinated with my drone and loved watching me fly it. The shadows of the mountains and the bright sky made for a really high contrast scenario so I'm interested in seeing how the footage turned out. My DJI Phantom 3 Standard doesn't shoot video in RAW, so I'm curious to see how much I'll be able to push or pull the footage. Enough camera nerd stuff. Unless you want to hear more, then tell me!

At the bottom of the Xihai Grand Canyon, there was a tram that ran up the mountain so you didn't have to hike all the way back. Sure it was 100¥ but that is pocket change compared to the amount of effort hiking would have taken. By this time is was probably around 6:15pm and spending another 3 hours hiking didn't sound fun. Got to the top and it states to rain. Luckily Allen was very generous and bought me a poncho earlier on in the day. It probably took me an hour to hike with all my gear in the rain back to my hotel. 

Ate some extremely overpriced food and drank mediocre overpriced beer before sitting down and editing. Allen came by my room and gave me a free breakfast coupon (seriously what an amazing guy) and then left. Sadly I never saw him again. I was going to post on my blog/Instagram but the wifi there was so slow I couldn't even load a webpage. So instead I watched The Newsroom on my laptop and went to bed exhausted. 

Killswitch Engage || Fox Theater Pomona

The last time I got to see Killswitch Engage perform live was at the Music As A Weapon IV tour in 2009. To say the least, things were quite different back then. I was still in high school, Howard Jones was still the frontman of Killswitch, and I had no idea what I was doing with my life, and I got grounded for going to the show (totally worth it by the way). That being said, seeing Killswitch Engage perform live and having the amazing privilege to shoot it was such a fantastic experience. 

Thanks to Timmy Farmer, I got VIP passes to the show where I got to photograph and chill with Memphis May Fire and watch the show backstage. Definitely a step up from only being allowed to shoot the first three songs in the pit. Hanging out backstage with them was such a blessing because they’re all humble dudes who’ve got great personalities. They are not egotistical divas who don’t have time for anyone. Everyone was always down to chill with fans, take pictures, and have a good time. 

Anyway, the show was fantastic and Memphis May Fire absolutely killed it. Unfortunately, as a support band for Killswitch, there was barely any light during their show which made it insanely difficult to photograph. Frontman Matty Mullins delivered a high energy performance that had the crowd off of their feet. Some people have natural talent and Matty (and the rest of MMF) is one of them. Their music sounded exactly like it did on the album which is so refreshing to see these days. The down side to the show was I wanted to see them play more songs, but that just means I’ll have to go see them headline their upcoming tour with We Came As Romans, Miss May I, and For Today!

Killswitch Engage obviously put on an amazing show. I got to see vocalist Jesse Leach perform with KSE for the first time and hear songs off of all their new records since I saw them last. While their light show brought the intensity up, there were a lot of red lights which made photographing KSE difficult. During a couple songs they had smoke machines pumping out haze adding to the atmosphere and helping my pics out a bit. With a setlist of 17 songs, Killswitch played 4 song off of their new album Incarnate, 4 songs off of Disarm The Dissent and The End of Heartache, and a few songs off of their other albums. Sadly, they didn’t play a few of my favorites like Reject Yourself, The Arms of Sorrow, Daylight Dies, The Element of One, The Hell In Me, and Time Will Not Remain. I guess thats my fault for always being busy during their concerts over the years. While they’re getting older, they still play with ferocity and the crowd always responds in kind. 

Killswitch Engage Setlist:

Strength of the Mind // A Bid Farewell // Numbered Days // No End In Sight // Beyond the Flames // Alone I Stand // This Fire Burns // Vide Infra // Always // Breathe Life // Hate By Design // Rose of Sharyn // Embrace the Journey…Unpraised // My Last Serenade // The End of Heartache // My Curse // In Due Time

Memphis May Fire Setlist:

Beneath The Skin // Prove Me Right // Legacy // Stay The Course // Alive in the Lights // No Ordinary Love // The Sinner // Vices