From the Pit to the Crowd: Nonpoint with 10 Years and F.I.L.T.H

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20 years is a long time. 20 years being married, 20 years living in the same city, and especially 20 years working the same job. But, in the music industry, being successful for 20 years is more difficult than anything else. Yet, Nonpoint has done it and were celebrating it with a tour. On Sunday, January 22nd, I was fortunate enough to photograph and review their show at House of Blues Orlando.

I arrived at the House of Blues around 6:40 PM as Central Florida was experiencing severe wind and rain. Luckily, it wasn’t raining there yet. I picked up my photo credentials and ran into a few photographers I’ve known from online only named Eric and Joe. We’re all part of a photography Facebook group and I always like the opportunity to meet people face to face. We chatted for a brief moment and saw my friend Lauren, who works for House of Blues, outside working the line. The weather was starting to get worse as I saw a lightning strike. House of Blues decided to open the doors early to prevent everyone from getting wet. I made my way through security and over to the photo pit.

This was a huge night and you could feel the excitement from the crowd all around. Even I was starting to feel it. My friends Jennifer, Troy, and Bryan also showed up. We were all huddled by the stairs to the photo pit chatting away until it was time for the opening band. I was happy to see the local opener named F.I.L.T.H. I had just seen them on Friday night with Kelen Heller (review coming soon) and knew they were going to excite this crowd.

At 8 PM sharp, the lights went down, the crowd started to cheer, F.I.L.T.H walked out on stage and they lit it up. Decked out in their various pieces of trademark neon green, Eric Mann (vocals), Mike Andes (guitar), Mikey V. (bass), Freddie Hull (drums), and Josh Lyons (guitar) ripped out their song “Criminal”. Filled with fast paced drums, guitar riffs, and vocals, it was a great song to set the tone  for their set. They followed with “The Quiet Song” which took up the energy a notch. You could hear Mikey’s bass fueling this song and Eric’s screaming vocals piercing the crowd. I could hear the cheers behind me while I was in the pit photographing the band to this song.

Photographing F.I.L.T.H from the pit was fun. First, since all of the band members wear something neon green it proved a nice color contrast to their black. Second, they had some great lighting on their stage, especially a lightbox right underneath Eric for some great highlighting. And third, they’re just energetic and active, which I like to see from a band.

Their third song, “Anthem for the Rejects”, had a special guest singer. April Rose, lead singer of Auditory Armory, came on stage to perform with F.I.L.T.H. As expected, this was another hard hitting song, with Eric going guttural for most of the vocals and April using her vocals to harmonize. It was a great combination between two good friends to make something memorable and special for the crowd. After I left the pit, I went by the soundboard for more shots and then to the sides of the floor for a few more. F.I.L.T.H treated the crowd  to close with a new song called “I’m Drowning”. The crowd loved it and were jumping and cheering during the song. F.I.L.T.H got a well deserved applause when they finished. They set the bar that night for the remaining bands.

As we were waiting for 10 Years I went down to the merch table and found April and her bassist, Justice. I chatted with them for a few minutes when Eric showed up. I congratulated him on a great show and took a picture of Eric and April together. I also ran into my friend Katt and chatted with him for a pit before making my way back to the photo pit stairs.

It felt like forever before the lights went down again and we went into the pit. Jesse Hasek (vocals), Matt Wantland (guitar), Brian Vodinh (guitar), Chad Huff (bass), and Kyle Mayer (drums) took their spots. Jesse adjusted his microphone stand a bit and then the band launched into “Waking Up” from The Autumn Effect, the band’s third album, but first album released with a major record label. Kyle set the beat with Chad joining in before Matt and Brian joined in unison and Jesse began the vocals. It’s a hard hitting guitar driven rock song followed by Jesse’s haunting melodic vocals. They followed with “Fault Line” also from The Autumn Effect.

Photographing 10 Years was a great thrill for me as a fan of their music and seeing them numerous times. Colors were nice hues of blues and whites and orange/yellow and white. Kyle was very playful behind the drums making faces at the photographer and being very animated as he played. Unexpectedly, as we were in the pit, I turned around and there was Jesse in the pit with us. He jumped in to interact with fans in the front row and was no more than 3 feet from me. I snapped off some quick shots hoping to get at least one before he got back up on stage.

After the third song I headed to the soundboard to get some more shots. The band took a quick break for Jesse to address the crowd explaining the band is touring playing The Autumn Effect in it’s entirety since it was the album that started their career. They jumped back into it with “Wasteland” their first number one single. As part of their set they also played “Through the Iris” and the self titled track “The Autumn Effect”. Jesse jumped into the crowd twice for some quick body surfing. As a nice surprise, they closed their set with “Shoot It Out” from Feeding the Wolves.

As I was waiting for Nonpoint to hit the stage another friend, Jayme, and her son, Jayson, came over to say hello and to show me that they caught 10 Years’ set list. Jesse crumpled it up and threw it into the stands before walking off stage. Jayme said a woman next to her was overly excited about seeing 10 Years and wondered if she should give the setlist to her. I said that woman would probably appreciate it so she did. I watched from the stairs at a very excited fan being able to take a souvenir home from 10 Years.

Soon enough the time was upon us for Nonpoint to take the stage. The crowd on the floor was tight and packed and their excitement was building up to their limit. The curtain pulled back and Supa Dave, a radio personality from WJRR 101.1 Orlando’s rock station, stepped out. He explained how he’s been a fan of Nonpoint since he started working at the radio station and even got to announce them. Apparently a deal was made that if Supa Dave got to announce them on stage 20 times, he would get to do something special on stage. Tonight, was the 20th time. He promised something special sometime during their set. He then announced that Nonpoint would be on shortly.

The lights went dark, the curtains pulled back, and on the back wall was the banned of the red poison dart frog symbolizing the album cover to their latest release “The Poison Red”. Elias Soriano (vocals), Robb Rivera (drums), Rasheed Thomas (guitar, backing vocals), Adam Woloszyn (bass), and BC Kochmit (guitars, backing vocals) took their places and ripped into “Mindtrip” from the independently released Separate Yourself album. For them it was the album that started it all in 1997 so it made sense to play tracks from it for their 20 year anniversary. “Mindtrip” was re-released under the Statement album when they signed with MCA Records as their first album under a major record label. As most Nonpoint songs, this one comes out to kick you in the face and then comes back for a few more. It’s moshing music and the fans loved it. This was the Nonpoint everyone expected. They followed up with “Victim” also from the Separate Yourself and Statement albums that gave them the same energy to keep bouncing and moshing.

Photographing a band like Nonpoint will test your photography skills. They are very active on stage. Elias likes to move around from side to side a lot. During this set they used a lot of red and dark lights and at times bright white lights. They also had some nice blue and whites mixed in that produced some nice views including some unexpected silhouettes that I really liked. They followed up with “Endure” from the Statement album and then we left the pit.

This time I followed Troy upstairs to the balcony level to get some shots of the band from above. I followed up by going back downstairs and shooting from behind the soundboard. Elias during the show expressed his appreciation to the fans for sticking with them for 20 years because if it wasn’t for them, they wouldn’t be where they are right then. They continued rocking the show with “The Wreckoning”, “Alive and Kicking”, and “El Diablo”. They were selecting a nice mix of songs over their 20 year career. They treated the fans to their cover of “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. They also performed “My Last Dying Breath” from their most recent album The Poison Red.

But, then the Orlando fans were provided with a true special treat. Elias brought Supa Dave up on stage and then they performed one of their most popular songs “Bullet With A Name” from their To the Pain from 2005. Once those infamous guitar chords started the crowd screamed and bounced and of course, mosh. Elias and Supa Dave were having a blast on stage. When they were done, the band asked for the crowd to throw their hands up for a group photo, they informed the crowd about some of the special items they had at the merch table, said thank you, and left the stage.

As I was gathering my items to leave, I passed by the Nonpoint merch table that was packed full of people. As I looked closer, I saw the band all at the table signing anything and everything their fans were purchasing. The band looked in no rush to leave and was all smiles with the rest of their fans. This was definitely a momentous occasion for the fans and one they will not forget.