Picked up tickets to see Russian Circles at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL sometime back in October 2021. Shows were originally scheduled for January but due to an injury to someone in the band it got rescheduled for April 2022 and the two shows were combined into one. One silver lining is that COVID-19 infection/hospitalization rates have dropped and mask policies have changed so this is the first show where masks aren’t required if vaccinated. It felt like a normal show again which I suppose is good. Anyhoo let’s get to the photos!
I arrived late because I didn’t see there was an opening band, however it was announced back in December that local band REZN would be the supporting act. I took an open spot on the ramp at left hand side of the venue to stay out of the way. Had no expectations but definitely didn’t expect to see the guy on keyboards/effects bust out a saxophone during a metal show.
Here’s a wider view. Lighting effects are good but seizure-inducing and turned up to eleven. Music style was similar to Russian Circles but with lyrics and leaning more to black metal/sludge. Only caught the last two songs but not bad. SPOILER ALERT: my smartphone photos are quite bad! I make posts from concerts mainly just to document that I was there.
After the intermission I found a spot standing next to the sound booth to the right side. This helped get a more direct view and also elevated above the floor so a short guy like me can see over all the 7 foot tall giants that come to concerts (seriously though, where do these people come from?). They had three or four dudes on sound and lighting, pretty cool watching them work.
Russian Circles took the stage and probably had the fastest sound check I’ve ever seen – maybe 5 or 10 minutes. Suppose it helps not having to worry about vocals. Sound and lighting were great at the start. Fog machine got cranked up to overdrive which was great for lights but killed any chance I was going to get a clear picture. My poor little iPhone did the best it could.
Another shot with blue lights which really bleeds over everything. Personally I liked the red lights best but it was impossible to pull focus on the phone and just turned into a red blob.
Middle/end of the set there were some other overhead lights that spit out multiple rays or laser beam thingies. At that point my iPhone’s camera basically packed it’s bags and left the building. Oh well, it was a good show (other than a small hiccup where I think the guitarist’s pedal died and caused one song to go off the rails; they came back strong afterwards though).
Fun With Black & White
Processing the photos I started playing around with black & white to see if they would look any better. What’s the solution when everything is oversaturated? Remove the color! Much different vibe in grayscale.
This one is the photo in pink above. Contrast washes out a bit with the combined pink/blue hues. And again the fog machines really muddle everything. Keep in mind that I’m standing about 100 feet away from the stage so not complaining too much on the results here. Actually pretty crazy any of these work at all with a smartphone.
And here’s the one in blue from above. This is the best I could get – blurry action/movement but some fun & more dramatic dark tones. Need a full size camera for anything worth a damn in this low light.
Here’s a short clip during the show to demonstrate how chaotic the lighting conditions are & why photos are so bad. I was going to try and take screencaps from this instead of relying on photos but video focus in low light is too blurry for anything good. Even so, it’s quite amazing that a smartphone in 2022 can record this well from 100 feet away. Shot with iPhone 13 Pro but downscaled to 720p so the filesize isn’t huge. Was a fun camera experiment and not much else.
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