This past weekend I shot the biggest show I’ve ever been to. Like big-big. Ears might bleed, without ear-plugs big. It almost didn’t happen though. On my way to the show, I had the pleasure of getting into the first car accident of my adult life; added the other stresses and problems going on in my mind at the time, It’d be a vast understatement to say I was struggling to hold it all together. So, halfway to the arena, I sat on the side of the road, holding back tears and wondering if I should just turn back and go home, scrapping the night altogether. But then I had a thought, a perception-altering thought, that this itself was an opportunity; I could fold and return the way from which I’d came or stand up and overcome the obstacle. Thankfully, I chose the latter.
So, as I arrived to the PPL Center, spirit bruised and heart on fire, having already missed [Robert Findley] the first opening act (though, even in traffic, I could hear him from a block away), I took a breath, turned on my camera, and flipped the switch. Each time I step into the pit, I get an adrenaline rush like no other; but this one transcended them all. This one meant…more. The second act, Houndmouth, was up at bat and ripping the stage anew.
From the moment I focused my lens on these guys, I swear not a single smile left their faces. The music, a filthy blend of heartfelt and electrifying indie rock, was on point, but the energy is what made this performance. They were genuinely happy; four dudes and their instruments, having a damn good time; a palpable joy strikingly evident to all the thousands who stood behind me. By time they were done, the audience was primed and ready for the main event.
Those moments before Greta Van Fleet took the stage were utterly electric. The crowd had swelled to fill nearly every inch of standing room on the floor, each row and balcony just as full; the grandness of it all unleashing butterflies to my insides. Then, the lights went down, and I swear the whole of Allentown heard our roar. Every phone in sight stretched to the sky, not a single one of us willing to miss the moment; and in a heart thumping flash, Josh Kiszka’s freakish howl erupted from the darkness, nearly separating the roof from its hinges. What followed was a soul rattling monologue the likes of which I’d never heard, a grand salute to life, love, and freedom; This was the rally before the storm.
As the sly organ notes of “Heat Above” slithered into the atmosphere, building to a crescendo, I could feel the weight of the moment in my chest. So, I closed my eyes, and inhaled the magic floating abound; Then the drums kicked in, the curtain fell, and a reverberating lash ripped through the arena; cold cocking us all into a standing dream of gold. As the song suggests, things got very hot, very quickly, with literal plumes of fire shooting from the stage; the heat of the blaze whipping through the pit like a vacuum on fire; Even after leaving the stage front, those flames’ intensity were felt, rows into the crowd.
Every second of this set was an event in itself; from Josh riding through the pit on the shoulders of security guards, to Jake’s unreal guitar solos (one of which lasted nearly ten-minutes), and the flurrying encore we all hoped would never end. Thankfully for us all, when Josh says one more, you can trust that one is just the beginning. The grand quartet gave Allentown every bit of what they bargained for and more; leaving the stage and the arena covered, in love, sweat, and soul.
When I was younger, before I wrote about the power of music or walked through concerts with a camera in my hand, there weren’t many real references in my life to the world of live music. I had movies (School of Rock, Almost Famous, Detroit Rock City) and tall tales that painted visions at once blurry and grandiose; larger than life occasions that defied the monotony of normal waking life. It was the stuff of legend. This show may be the closest I’ve come to that feeling so far. A clear bar-setter for what comes next; these are the shows you stand in line for, drive miles and damn cry for; nights like these are dreams, that exceed their weight in gold.
Be sure to checkout the full gallery of moments from the night below!