I love this time of year. Summer has just started, Kegger Season is under way, and it’s Festival Concert Season. I love photographing any concert, but festivals are the best. Last year I was able to shoot the Vans Warped Tour for the first time and had a blast – you can look back at that post here if you want. This year Warped hit the Pomona Fairplex for two days, last Thursday and Friday, with 9 stages, and more bands than I am willing to count. But in the list was aÂ great selection of metalcore bands, soÂ Â I decided to shoot the Thursday show.
Warped is different than most other festival concerts. The crowd is younger, and most of the bands are often less well known. Don’t get me wrong… most of the bands that headline Warped have huge followings, but they haven’t reached that Metallica level – yet. A few of the bands are virtual unknowns before they play warped. THAT is what I love about it. This is a very fun day for a lot of reasons, but these bands are hungry and they show it. The entire day is non-stop performance.
Memphis May Fire
The first band Â I shot was Memphis May Fire. An American metalcore band from Texas, this was a great start to the day.
We Came As Romans
Next up was We Came As Romans, another Metalcore act. I enjoyed these guys a lot, and they were great to photograph.
You may notice that in the shot above, where lead singer Kyle Pavone is in the crowd, there is a GoPro camera being held up over the crowd. I would normally remove that thing in Photoshop, and it would make a much better image if I did. This time, I left it in there in all it’s glory. Why? One of the interesting things about Warped Tour is the number of younger beginning photographers in the photo pit. It can be a pain at times to have to shoot a concert with a lot of people that have no idea how to act in a photo pit. At Warped that can happen very often, and it is usually by someone in the pit with a Cell Phone or Point ‘n Shoot camera.
But, that is also what makes Warped so cool. Everyone has to start somewhere, and shooting bands that are so popular to a college crowd, and so active, is a great place to start. Sure, sometimes someone makes a “mistake” – I have many shots that could have been keepers if not for the camera someone held up high over their head when they were actually in the front of the pit – but someone will usually say something and they learn.
The next band was a huge surprise. I had heard about Crossfaith before the concert through an email from their PR firm. It said:
“Unique in their home country of Japan, CROSSFAITH combine metal, hardcore, samples and electronica to create groundbreaking music that transcends genres.”
Wait a minute… Metal, Hardcore and Electronica…. in the same band? My first reaction was that I was curious, my second thought was that it won’t actually work.
The day of the concert I forgot about wanting to see them, and I was in the pit at another stage, when the person I was with yelled “Crossfaith is on in 10 minutes”. We bolted across the place to the stage they were at and man… I am glad I did. That band nailed it. Pure adrenaline and action from start to finish.
I know the mix may sound odd, but I can’t wait to shoot these guys again. I could a photo post just on them. And the song Jagerbomb.. well, the title says it all. I left that stage thinking I had seen the nest of the day.
I admit it, I had not heard Letlive before. The guy I was with said they would be a good shoot. Holy crap. Letlive may be the craziest band I have ever seen on stage. They are just plan crazy. Good, but wow. He wrapped himself in a carpet, knocked down guitar amps, rolled on the floor, and ended up at on point with a mic cord around his neck. Just another day on the job.
I am only posting 2 of my images from the Letlive set here, there are more at the end of the post from another photographer.
August Burns Red
One of the big draws this year is August Burns Red. This band has a huge following, and I can see why. If you like metalcore, you will like these guys.
Two of my favorite shots of the day are the shot above, and the Black n White shot below, of lead vocalistÂ Jake Luhrs.
Sleeping With Sirens
I am only including one of my Sleeping With Sirens shots here, because I will have some more SWS shots at the end. Wikipedia describes them as a “post-hardcoreÂ band from Orlando”. I have be honest, sometimes the classifications get stupid. It’s good hard rock.
Middle Finger Salute
I had no plans to shoot these guys, but the guy above was yelling at people to stop and listen. I kinda liked that. He demanded attention, and he got mine. Middle Finger Salute is an English punk rock band. This day, the singerÂ Adam Marsden was not on the stage. He decide to play from the walkway.
These guys are perfect examples of why I like the Warped Tour, bands that will demand your attention.
Next up… Oh, Sleeper. According to Wikipedia, this is an “American Christian metalcore band” from Texas. Hmmm. I did not notice the Christian part, but metalcore? Hell yeah.
By this time it was getting late in the day, and the sun was great for photos. Really fun band to shoot.
Bring Me The Horizon
Another British band, Bring Me The Horizon is of the metalcore style. This was the band that wrapped up the day for me, and I got some great shots. More shots in a bit.
One of the things that makes The Vans Warped Tour what it is is the crowd. They are passionate as hell, and are there to have fun. I have been kicked a few times as people crowd surf toward the photo pit, where security helps them down and lets them go on their way. It is just a fun day all around. I always try to get some crowd shots, but this shot was an experiment. I kinda like how it came out:
If you have never tried the Vans Warped Tour, give it a shot. Or, try one of the other great festivals coming to the Inland Empire. Next up for photos… Mayhem Festival on June 29th.
For some of the bands, I have mentioned I would include a few more shots at the end of the post. The reason is I had another photographer with me this day. Normally I shoot alone, but I needed some help with my gear and this guy stepped up to help. So a big thanks to Jose Negrete, and here are a few of the shots he got.