Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008

Shortly before launching into a mosh inducing rendition of his grunge hit “Hey Man Nice Shot,” Filter frontman Richard Patrick did something out of character, he politely apologized to the crowd for dousing them with water. This was just one of a few unexpected moments that night.

Filter, re-minted and packing their first album since 2002, took the stage to a sardine-can-crowd of industry types and long-time supporters. Eleven years ago, “Trip Like I Do” sent angsty teens and twenties into a head banging frenzy – this audience was in comparison, mild. Of course, the show wasn’t all stroller pushing and latte sippin, but Filter’s fan base, now over decade older, had mellowed considerably.

However energetic the crowd, had traded the steel-toes and elbows to the sternum of their youner years for Steve Madden and enthusiastic head bobbing. This change in mood prompted Patrick to remark “sorry for throwing water all over you guys!”

“When Filter first came to New York, you guys were moshing the whole time, so I came out tonight I was confused. But now I realize you guys just express your appreciation in different ways! That’s cool, so sorry about that!”

With the formalities over, Patrick lead his new lineup through tracks from Anthems for the Damned, the band’s new release on Pulse Recording. In one of several poignant moments that night Patrick dedicated the performance of the new single “Soldiers of Misfortune” to friends of the band serving in Iraq.

The song, the video for which clearly shows a purple heart medal sinking into a puddle of crude oil, objects to the suffering of our armed forces overseas. (more on this below)

In addition to “Hey Man Nice Shot,” “Trip Like I Do” and “Jurrasitol,” a personal highlight of the show was Patrick’s performance of “Skinny” from his second album. The frontman, who took swigs of Poland Spring between songs, admitted that the band had only recently performed the song live because he was too much of a “a raging fucking alcoholic” to have hit the notes in years past.

At the end of the night, as a mosh pit exploded to the chorus of “Hey Man Nice Shot,” it was clear that both artist and fan had come a long way since 1995.

Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008 Filter @ Mercury Lounge - 13.05.2008


Okay, I admit it, Filter was one of the bands that defined my teenage years.


This was one of those rare cases when I use flash. At its best, the lighting at Mercury Lounge is workable for shoegazey indie bands if you’ve got a decent camera and some f/1.8 prime lenses. Shooting a rock band that is hell bent on tearing the roof of the place is a nightmare.

Richard Patrick spent a lot of time at the very edge of the stage which put him well in front of the weak overhead lights that were positioned to hit a person standing a few feet further back. With no light on the lead singer I strapped on my Canon 580EX II and Demb Flip-It bounce card and tried to balance the flash with what little ambient light was available.


I shot with the Canon EOS-1D Mark III and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L. As the impossibly tight framing of my shots is evidence, the lens was not the right tool for the job. Although the 24-70mm would probably have sufficed on a full-frame sensor the 1.3x crop of the 1D series cameras is just different enough to be a problem at close distances. The Canon 16-35mm (which I don’t currently own) would have given me more freedom in composition and allowed for better shots of the crowd.


I shot at ISO1600 down to 1/15 at f/3.5 for nearly the entire show. The flash was set to TTL with the output of the flash measured by spot metering and flash exposure compensation on the fly.

End Notes

There is an interesting comparison between Filter’s video for “Soldiers of Misfortune” and 3 Doors Down’s recent video/ad for “Citizen Soldier.” I personally want to vomit every time I see “Citizen Soldier” played before the movie I paid $11 to see. You be the judge.

Filter – Soldiers of Misfortune

3 Doors Down – Citizen Soldier

  1. I rarely shoot Mercury just because it’s so damn dark in there. Were you bouncing the flash off the ceiling?

  2. chris

    Hi Kathryn, I was bouncing off the ceiling to some extent. It’s painted black, so most of the bounce was wasted. I had my Demb Flip-It bounce card on so most of the light was going forward. The only way I opened up the room was to shoot at high ISO and low shutter speed.

  3. Great set, Chris. Do you shoot on stage often? Kind of gives a more personal experience of some kind, and gives you the opportunity to put the crowd in some shots. I think the lens definitely worked, and got some good semi-wide shots from under and in front of the guitarists!

  4. chris

    Hi Chris, I wasn’t actually on stage. The setup is very low at Mercury Lounge and you can go right up the performers. I still needed a wider lens!

  5. Chris

    What kind of lenses are you looking at? My friend just bought the 10-22, I just wish it had a faster aperture! Then again, I shoot nikon. What about the 11-16 tokina? I’m looking into that one..

  6. Hey Chris, when you use flash and slower shutter speeds like you did, how do you prevent blur from the performers moving around? I would assume there’d be some blur there. I’ve never used flash but am looking into getting one. Just curious.

    For what you dealt with, there are some good shots here! I love the first one.

  7. chris

    Hey Keith, Yes, there is blur. Take a look at photos #1,3 and 7. The issue isn’t blur per-say, it’s managing the exposure in a such a way that you maximize the ambient light coming in while minimizing motion blur and still end up with a properly exposed image.

    If you shoot with a shutter speed that is high, you end up with a point-n-shoot-like image where the subject is bright and the background is completely black.

    On the other hand, if you use a long shutter speed and you don’t hold the camera steady, you’re going to end up with a swirly mess where you can’t even tell who the artist is.

    My technique is essentially that I find a pleasing background exposure in manual mode and then let the flash fill in the rest.

  8. Thanks for that info there, Chris. I think I now know exactly what you’re talking about. I guess its all about finding a good middle ground. I checked those shots you pointed out and I see it. I still think your technique works really well!

  9. To know all is to forgive all.