From the Pit to the Crowd: Barb Wire Dolls

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Sunday, December 11th, I had plans to attend another concert at The Haven. For those new to my column, The Haven is a local venue in the Orlando, FL area (technically Winter Park), that has been hosting shows for the past 12 years or so. A number of promoters use that venue for their shows. The one who set the show up for that Sunday told me this was a show not to be missed as he was bringing in the Barb Wire Dolls. There was a lot of Internet buzz about this band, home based in Greece, and all of it good. I know one photographer who had seen them days earlier who absolutely raved about the show. I was already excited to see them as the day was getting closer and on the day of I was stoked.

I arrived around 7:30 and made my way inside. It was a decent size crowd for a Sunday, which was good. I went around and said hello to the promoter and friends who showed up. I always spend a few minutes socializing before I get into photographing. I like to get a feel for the crowds, see who else is photographing, taking video, and such. This way I can ensure not to get in their way by accident. I immediately noticed one other photographer so I needed to make sure not to get in his shots.

The listing had 4 openers and Barb Wire Dolls closing the show, but I learned one of the openers dropped out. I’m usually very keen about photographing all the openers, but I need something visually and musically to capture my attention. And only one band did that named Sada. They are a 4 piece band out of West Palm Beach, FL and as soon as they started to play they had my attention immediately. They opened up with “Justified”, a hard hitting song with a melodious mix of guitar, bass, drum, and powerful vocals from Lyss Emerson. I was not expecting the power she generated so flawlessly and with minimal effort.  A very nice way to start off their set.

They immediately mixed it up with “In Color”, a much slower song, which allowed guitarist Patrick Wall show off his skills with some nice sounding rifts that were essentially solos. Lyss also got to show she’s just not a power singer and can tone it down when she necessary. Two songs into their set and I was already seriously impressed with this band. The band did need to take a quick break through their set as Patrick broke guitar strings not once, but twice. Things like this happen and the crowd didn’t seem deterred from  it and waited patiently to get back into playing.

Photographing at The Haven was once again dealing with a cycling of lights between all reds to blues to green to yellow and maybe a white mix somewhere in between. For a rock band, I’m sure they didn’t mind the lighting. As a photographer, it’s a pain. It’s simply a matter of waiting for the right time to press the shutter and having the right color mix to get something decent.

Drummer Kirk Jamgotchian and bassist Rob Vieria got down hard and heavy when the band played a two song mix of “Wait for It” and “Mimeo”. Both are very fast paced, short, punk sounding songs that had the crowd head banging away. Overall, one of my favorite songs was “Inferno”. Though it’s a longer slower paced song, it has a great sound all around and is easily a song I could hear getting radio play. Sada is a band I expect to see back at The Haven in the future as I think they made a great impression on a lot of us that night.

It wasn’t too long before the headliners, Barb Wire Dolls, were ready to take the stage. Krash Doll, drummer, started off a beat where Pyn Doll, lead guitar, Iriel Blaque, bassist, and Remmington, rhythm guitar, then all joined in unison. The crowd immediately moved to the beat as vocalist Isis Queen struted onto the stage, head banging, grabbed the microphone and started into “Train Meets Truck”.  It was easy to see and hear why this band had so much buzz on their current tour. There’s an energy they bring that feeds out into the crowd and the crowd’s response to it feeds back to them.

I moved around as much as I could from one side to the other photographing from all angles. The main issue again was lighting. Within their first few songs the stage was darker than normal. When the lighting did get back to normal, the lights flickered with different colors matching to the beat of their songs. It makes it a little more difficult as I’m hoping I’m catching the picture I want at the right moment with the lighting. Playing it safe, I snapped off multiple burst shots at various times ensuring at least one of the shots I want was captured.

I can understand why a lot of people associate Barb Wire Dolls with punk music. When they played “Destroyer Boy”, the quick pace of the music and vocals it definitely had that feel. The band’s wardrobe also gives off that punk vibe with torn clothing, leather jackets, and even a spiked collar. “Walking Dead” also has that vibe especially with the guitar rifts and Isis with her screaming vocals towards the end of the song.

This is also a band that brings a message with their music. “World on Fire” which they performed talks about greed and corruption, and their lyrics really hits hard. “Take cover/cause the world is on fire/full of greed and desire/we’re living in denial/while the world is on fire”. Another of their performed songs that night was Revolution that comes out fast paced both on the music and vocals. Isis sings it passionately stating “Burn down the flags tear down the cross/Burn down every government house/Politicians go to jail/Bankers you go to hell/’cause I want to start a revolution”.  Is this a band looking for their fans to bring anarchy to the world? I never got that feeling from them. I do believe this is a band who cares about the world around us and wants people to open their eyes, take stock on what is going on, and do something to make it better and not more of the same.

One of the things I loved about this band was their carefree attitude. They dress the way they want. They play the music they want to play. And say the things they want to say. They have no fear of criticism from fans or reviewers. Isis herself shows her fearlessness while she performs. She constantly makes eye contact with members in the crowd. Isis multiple times came into the crowd stretching out her mic cord as far as it would allow singing face to face with the fans. I found it humorous as some of the male fans looked uncomfortable with Isis that close to them. She also stood up on a chair speaking to the fans continuing to get them pumped up and energized even towards the end of their set.

The band closed with “Heart Attack”, one of my favorite songs by them. A quick song that definitely gets you moving. The lyrics bring a message that Isis repeated throughout the night “We are young/We are strong/We are the ones/Here we come”. When they wrapped up their set, all of The Haven was cheering in appreciation. The energy the band fed us the audience definitely fed back to them. It was an amazing set by the band and I’m glad I took the time to come see them and can’t wait for them to come back again.