Return Of The Dreads: A Tale From The Photo Pit


Korn at Irvine Meadows; photo Reuben Martinez

“Return of the Dreads” came to SoCal with a lineup that featured In This Moment, Rob Zombie and Korn. SoCal hasn’t had a rock fest in a while and this was guaranteed to sell out.

Arriving at the venue, there were issues getting in. Key to being a photographer is being early to shoot all the bands on the bill, but unfortunately I did hit a snag. As soon as I got into the parking lot there was a lot of walking. As I arrived at the box office to get my credentials, I was given a photo pass but the venue staff said I also needed a ticket to get in. I could hear that In This Moment had already taken the stage. After other photographers were denied entry, another staff worker walked up and said we could all go in.

I walked as fast as I could while getting my camera ready. But once I showed up to the stage, In This Moment finished their last song. Since we’re only allowed to shoot the first three songs of a set, I had missed my opportunity. But running into friends that are photographers, they also had the same problem. But never-the-less, I was able to shoot Rob Zombie and Korn.

When Rob Zombie took to the stage I already knew he never disappoints the fans. His stage was full of his visions of horror and pop art, including a microphone stand that had a Nosferatu looking metal base.

rob zombie

Rob Zombie at Irvine Meadows; photo Reuben Martinez

There were overwhelming red lights that are hard to capture in photos so I switched my camera to shoot black and white and was able to get great shots of him and the band. However, the color photos captured the vibrancy and mysticism of the band.

As Rob loves to entertain, he and guitarist John 5 had an oversized Devil walking around the stage that he interacted with. Such a great stage presence and a great showman. Even while John 5 showcased during a solo, Rob was running around the crowd getting them even more enthused.

While we were waiting for Korn to come on stage, the photographers were escorted back down to the photo pit. Right away, I was in the presence of singer Jonathan Davis’ mic stand, which the legendary artist/sculptor H.R. Giger designed for him years ago.

When drummer Ray Luzier entered the stage that was my key to get the camera ready. The rest of the band came on, bassist Fieldy’s neon bass strings were glowing, and the band went into the first song, “Right Now”. The crowd was jumping!

Great lighting for the band made it easy to get the shots I wanted. And as the tour was called “Return of the Dreads” both guitarists, Head and Munky, had dreads that made great action shots while they were rocking out to their performance.

I’ve seen these bands many times before, they sounded great but this was my first time shooting them. It was a very entertaining show and a great experience to shoot and share.

Although these bands have been around for a long time, their new songs also sounded great. If you are a fan, check them out next time they come around.

Eyes Set To Kill Play Brick By Brick

eyes set to kill

EYES SET TO KILL played Brick By Brick Nov. 6 photo: Reuben Martinez

A band I saw over 2 years ago opening for Kill Devil Hill, Eyes Set To Kill (ESTK), impressed me and I became a huge fan. This time, playing at Brick By Brick in San Diego, I wanted to shoot their show.

While being new to this venue, I didn’t know what to expect. But Brick By Brick’s accommodations and staff were amazing. Small in space yet open to catering to the rock crowd, I was really impressed with the lighting when ESTK took stage.

Using a prime lens for low light conditions I captured great action shots of singer Alexia’s passionate singing and her sister Anissa’s solid bass playing, her yellow hair flaring away. This was the main reason that got me intrigued by this band. Drummer Caleb is nothing but solid behind the kit propelling the group through songs off their last album “Masks” and a few new tunes. The band can really play!

I’ve seen this band a few times so I was familiar with what to expect. In my opinion, I think was one of my most successful shoots. I was constantly looking at the display of my camera and was impressed at how well each shot was coming out. I didn’t have to move around too much to get great compositions.

It’s such a rare experience when you’re able to shoot a great band at a great venue with a great staff. I’m looking forward to returning to Brick By Brick for other shows and obviously looking forward to Eyes Set To Kill’s return to Southern California.

Five Finger Death Punch Heads Ontario Lineup

Five Finger Death Punch

Five Finger Death Punch headlined Citizens Bank Arena photo: Reuben Martinez

New to shooting at The Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, I walked in not knowing what to expect but excited to see three bands I really liked.

First up was In This Moment who know how to give a great performance. Singer Maria Brink, with her two dancers, portrayed songs like “Big Bad Wolf” wearing wolf masks. This is what’s exciting as a photographer, seeing the presence of each song and documenting each move when all of the band members play a part.

Papa Roach came next with a full energetic set. Singer Jacoby Shaddix made his presence known by going into the crowd a few times then later, he and guitarist Jerry Horton played a couple acoustic songs in the center of the crowd. As the lighting radiated throughout the place, I was able to still get great shots from outside the photo pit.

Finally, the band everyone came to see was up next, Five Finger Death Punch. Singer Ivan Moody approached his 180 pound silver mic-stand adorned with a skull, grenades and bullets on the base with the microphone set into a handgun.

I was enraptured by the moment, taking shots of the mic stand alone. Approaching each member of the band, I tried to capture every possible angle but, it was hard to keep an eye open while taking it all in.

This band knows how to get their audience’s attention. From bringing kids onstage to having everyone turn on their cell phone lights, as a photographer, I try to seize every moment.

Five Finger Death Punch delivered a powerful performance and their music fits their name. This music is my preference. Great show. Great venue. Well played.

Yukon Blonde Through the Lens At Soda Bar

Yukon Blonde

Yukon Blonde played Soda Bar July 17

On Jul. 17, Vancouver BC’s own Yukon Blonde played San Diego County’s Soda Bar. With overcoming sound check issues, Yukon Blonde played an overall strong performance. Although it being my first time seeing this Indie Pop band and being at this venue, when they started playing I could clearly see why they had their own followers and understand how they were nominated for a Juno award, which is Canada’s version of the Grammy’s.

In support of Yukon Blonde’s latest release “On Blonde,” they opened up with the first track “Confused” and played the majority of their new release throughout the night. My highlight of the night’s performance was them playing “Favourite People,” their upbeat song with a great bass line from James Younger, and clean 12-string guitar from Brandon Scott.

As they continued, everyone was out of their seat standing in front of the stage. Being a smaller venue, it was hard to move around and get better shots while remaining courteous to the fans. Overall, both the show and the staff were great. With a few albums under their belt, I can totally see Yukon Blonde playing Coachella in the near future.