Arriving at Port City Music Hall, it was nice to see three things: 1) at 6:45, 45 minutes before the doors would open, there was already a good-sized crowd lining up, 2) the smiling faces of acquaintances who run security and the venue, and 3) last but certainly not least, that there was a proper barricade between the stage and the audience. This is for security purposes, to help catch crowd surfers, keep the fans away from the band, and it gives us photographers room to move about and get the frames we need. Which I greatly appreciate. To make matters even better, I was the only photographer and was told that I could shoot the entire show instead of the first three songs as in larger venues. And, I nearly forgot – 4) I would also like to add that as per usual, lighting was great.
The first band on were called Sworn In, a four-piece band from Illinois. It’s funny -from their wiki page they seem to have only been around since 2011 yet their band member timeline already has ten names on it. One wonders does this band have Spinal Tapitus? Are the band members spontaneously combusting on stage? Wiki page aside, I thought the band went over well. Some of the members were a bit more camera friendly than others, but isn’t that always the case? They played a short set, and it they received a mediocre welcome from the fans. The band’s vocalist was rather theatric which might have turned some of the heavier fans off, but for me and my camera, it made it fun.
Wilson was next. Wilson hail from Detroit, and this band really impressed me. Evidently they impressed the audience as well because after the show merch was flying from their table. The band had a heavy sound, but it wasn’t too heavy as to be obnoxious- it was just right. Good songs, good melodies, and some good talent from the guys. I heard many people walking away after the band’s set saying how great they were. Coming into this show having only seen or heard of one band, this band was the sleeper hit for me. During the last song, singer Chad Nicefield came on stage wearing a marching drum and proceeded to whip the crowd into a frenzy before ending the song standing upon the drum like a small riser. It was a nice touch and a great ending to a great set.
Miss May I, from Ohio, were up next. I had photographed Miss May I a year or so ago when they opened for Asking Alexandria at the State Theatre just down the street in Portland, Maine. I recall liking their set, and they are one of the reasons I came here on this evening. Once again Miss May I did not disappoint; tons of energy and good songs. Like Wilson before them, the fans ate it up, and they sold quite a bit of merch because of the fine set they performed.
Last up were We Came As Romans. WCAR, from Michigan, brought along a riser that ran the length of the front of the stage. On a larger stage I thing it would’ve worked well, but in this venue, it was rather an annoyance. It cut down the amount of room the band members had on stage, and 6 members they need all the room they can get. That aside, I felt the band did well, and so did the screaming fans hanging over the barricade to get close to the members. The live energy from these guys were unmatched by anything prior.
I was happy to have the opportunity to shoot the entire set because at the middle of their set, the band started to do aerials, many of which I caught on film…err, digital images, that is. Again, some members were more camera friendly than others, and by that I mean they were more fun to photograph and hammed it up a bit, looking into the lens, etc.
Although all the members did their job well on stage, two members of WCAR really went above and beyond, and that made my job as a photographer quite fun. Singer, Kyle Pavone, not only had a great voice but seemed to give the camera lens some love, and also seemed to get some love from the ladies in the front row, at least by the looks they were throwing him. And then bassist, Andy Glass, who did more and higher aerials than anybody else, was a ton of fun to shoot. A fun band that will undoubtedly go on to do some great things. My only advice – nix the riser for the smaller stages. Sure it’s cool, but the great show itself is all that is needed to sell the band.