queens of the stone age

After some confusion with my credentials, I was able to see Queens of the Stone Age bring the rock to the hole for their “Vultures of Culture” tour at Madison Square Garden. Though the mostly seated crowd was decidedly thinner for openers Biffy Clyro and The Black Angels, both supporting acts played energetic sets that were worthy of The Garden. The Black Angels, who often sound to me like what you would get if a pissed-off Michael Stipe fronted The Doors, were particularly good.

Though not a sold out show, the crowd buzzed with anticipation as the crew prepared the stage for QOTSA. By the time frontman Josh Homme took the stage, the house was very full and pumped for the set. Playing a mix of material, Homme lead the band through a few older songs as well as tracks from the band’s new release Era Vulgaris.

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Like other photographers at the show, I was denied access to photograph both Biffy Clyro and The Black Angels. Why any band, especially lesser known acts from other countries, would not want professional photography of their sets is somewhat beyond me. I’m just glad that I got sorted before QOTSA took the stage.

Although the press pit at The Garden is luxuriously large, this was one of the more challenging “first three” shoots I’ve ever done. The lighting was a mixture of strong blue, purple, red/orange washes punctuated by white strobes shot from several angles around the performers. The 24-70mm f/2.8L saw the most use during this set while the 70-200mm f/2.8L come out exclusively for shots of the keyboardist and drummer.

As soon as the strobes went off I decided, as many concert photographers might, to establish an average working exposure based on the most consistent light. After a short and failed attempt at Aperture Priority and spot metering, I switched to manual mode for the duration of the set.

I must admit that I was somewhat displeased with the images upon my first edit. I found many wonderful compositions out of critical focus and either greatly over/under exposed. The final set of images was the result of a little more digging and a little more time than usual. All in all, there are a couple that I’m really happy with.

As always, peep the flickr for the full set. Over and out.

  1. The lighting looks pretty rough, so respect on these shots. What I’ve found is that sometimes, a larger venue doesn’t always translate into better lighting. It seems a lot of bands are tending toward this awful deep purple wash with strobes. Just nasty.

    These kinds of shows always have me constantly spinning dials for the first three.

  2. chris


    While the amount of light was usable, the quality was pretty poor.

  3. Chris, greetings to you. Your set and shooting notes have been most helpful as usual. I’m supposed to shoot QOTSA on Monday but probably won’t bother now unless the credentials come through. Looks like the kind of shoot I don’t want to do. I shot Biffy Clyro a couple of days ago and it was a complete nightmare and it sounds like QOTSA will be very similar. Best wishes, Carsten