Sound. Light. Action. Energy. Live music, whether performed to 10 patrons in a coffee shop or 60,000 fans in a stadium, generates a creative atmosphere that begs to be photographed. Often overlooked, the venue can have a profound effect on both the performers and audience so having been on both sides of the stage, my eye is drawn to capturing the energy of the spectacle as it unfolds within a space.
Personally, I love arena shows. The set designers, lighting, effects and audio engineers have a degree of control that most traditional venues don’t accommodate. From surround sound to controlled pyrotechnics to elaborate stage setups, arena events can be a feast for the senses — even in their more simple form.
Over the years I’ve attended a number of arena shows — Rush at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on three occasions, Moby and New Order at the MEN Arena in Manchester (UK), U2 at the United Center in Chicago, My Chemical Romance at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, and Imagine Dragons at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (2018). Each show was very different, but each one was also like the other — a holistic entertainment experience controlled by a small group of people huddled around the nerve center of the event — the mix position.
Although it doesn’t happen often, if I have the option I head to the mix position in the center or center rear of the space. The mix position provides the best sound and view of the show as everything is managed from there. If you haven’t stood at the mix position and can, try it. You might never force your way to the front of the crowd again.