Thursday, April 1, 2010

Black Eyed Peas @ Arena

I shot the Black Eyed Peas a few months back when they were here with U2, but I never posted any of the photos. I don't really know why... I must have just been busy, but they did run on the New Times page. However, this time around, I'm glad to post a bunch of pics!

This was very much a concept show... the show started with a computerized countdown... there was a circuit board projected on to the stage with a large green digital face speaking to the audience, and as it would ready the available instruments, that section of the circuit board would light up and that part of the band would make a noise, signaling that it was ready. The individual vocall band mates rose up from under the stage into their own laser spotlight. Interestingly, Will.I.Am came up after Fergie... I guess he is the big draw now?

Aside from all the cool lighting and the giant catwalk in the middle of the stage, the band also donned their own semi-futuristic customized costumes. Will's outfit looked like a bedazzler's nightmare, but it glinted nicely in the lights. Fergie was clothed in a bizarre black and white circuit board-like spandex jumper under shiny metal armour. I couldn't get the comparison of her to Liam Neeson as Zeus in the "Clash of the Titans" remake out of my head the whole night. She even had a "shoulda put a ring on it" glove on her right hand.

The sound was very loud and boomy. It was difficult to make anything out, for me anyways. But they put on a cool show. The crowd was more than impressed... at one point I looked down and saw at least one pair of women's underwear near the stage floor.

One cool thing about big choreographed shows like this... things always work a certain way, and sometimes the photogs are let in on the secret. Before the show started, one of the video cameramen from the tour walked all the photographers through what was going to happen on stage. We were told they'd raise up from the floor and pretty much stay on the main stage for the first song, then on the second song they would all strut out on to the catwalk. While this information sounds somewhat superfluous, my back-up camera died on me at my last gig. This means I have to stop shooting for 20-30 seconds to change lenses, and at this shoot, which was only two and a half songs long, that means a lot of shooting time lost. But more importantly, having the knowledge of the arrangement, I was able to switch from my zoom on the first song to my wide lens on the second song. Making for the more dramatic photos when the band was standing right in front of me... I was able to draw the stage in the background. Good intel.

I don't like to dismiss openers in general, and in this case, it was a pretty big deal... Ludacris. Who, unfortunately, didn't have quite the stage production value. He came on stage in front of a DJ, a video screen, and a handful of dancers. The more "straight forward" rap shows don't tend to have a large amount of production value in general, I think I just expected more after seeing the giant stage for the first time... but I guess you're not supposed to upstage the headliners.

To be completely honest, Luda's set, from the two songs I heard was not very impressive. He was very much out of key, and the mix was very obnoxious. It wasn't that he was incredibly loud, but his vocals really cut though, and between being out of key and having his rapping partner out of sync, it was not enjoyable.

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