Motion City Sountrack brought their explosive brand of pop punk to the Pageant in an infectiously energetic and upbeat set that saw a dynamic mix of lights to compliment the band's dynamic stage presence.
Touring in support of their September release Even If It Kills Me, the five-piece from Minneapolis laid into their set heavy right from the start, with a spirited performance lead by Justin Pierre. With double duties on lead vocals and guitar, the frontman seemed equally happy on the mic as he was wheeling back with his guitar to nail rock riffs at the middle of the stage.
Overall, Motion City Soundtrack's headlining set was one of the more chaotic of the night, with the high energy of the band creating a frenzied atmosphere during the first three songs.
Aside from frenetic lighting, Justin Pierre's constant motion on stage made him a moving target throughout the shoot. Adding insult to injury, a high guitar holding made getting clean shots of the singer all the more problematic. As a result, I often found that shoot stage-right provided the cleanest shots of the frontman.
Mathew Taylor on bass guitar, positioned house right, remained pretty stationary while guitarist Joshua Cain seemed more content to play away from the front of the stage.
Jesse Johnson rocked the Moog synthesizer with a constant thrashing, headbanging his way through the first three songs, while drummer Tony Thaxton pummeled away on his kit and kept a keen eye on Pierre. The two shared space on a short platform at the back of the stage, boxed in on either side by speaker stacks and stands of lighting equipment.
There were two other photographers in the pit with me for this show, and, despite also sharing the space with security guards and dodging crowd surfers being pulled over the barricade, the shoot went by pretty smoothly without many traffic jams.
The lighting for MCS was characterized by a very atmospheric feel, thanks to a soupy mix from water hazers and multiple, computer-controlled spotlights positioned around the stage.
The set started out with a dull mix of white and orange backlighting with a bit of high white light from the front. Yellow accents from the spots complimented this warm scheme to create a very dense feel.
Into the second song, a more unusual mix of cool white and green took over, transitioning to an orange wash with bright white exploding from the rear of the stage.
The third song started out with a cyan-green mix that gave way to a cooler magenta and blue scheme, which also featured white light from the rear for a difficult end to the shooting period.
As in the previous performance by Mae, the heavy use of the water hazer decreased contrast throughout the shoot, most notably when white light was used. For Pierre, this wasn't too much of a problem, but posed a problem for drummer Tony Thaxton.
For the second time of the night, I had the opportunity to use the trio of f/2.8 zooms in my kit: the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, and the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR.
The 24-70mm saw the most use, especially at the wide end, while the other two lenses made brief appearance on the D3 toward the end of the shoot.
Due to the much darker, more atmospheric feel of the set compared to Mae's lighting, I went up to ISO 3200. This setting allowed me to shoot quite comfortably at 1/250 and f/2.8, even letting me stop down for periods as the stage brightened.
MCS's set was a challenging shoot due to the band's high energy and the constant light changes, but I was very pleased by the way the D3 and the new lenses handled the demanding shoot.
Were I still using the Nikon D2x and Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8, I suspect that the old setup would have delivered well, albeit at ISO 1600 and a slower shutter speed of 1/160. Where the D3 really delivered is in the vast improvement in image quality, the advancements in which make me keen to see what the new machine can do for future concert shooting.