Scenes, Volume 3

Weezer at Fenway Park

Third entry in an analog photography feature at Noise Floor.

For this edition, late summer’s analog adventures take us everywhere from the Burren back room to Fenway Park.

I should start off by saying that the bulk of these shots comprise an only partly successful experiment at the Boston stop of Green Day and Weezer’s Hella Mega Tour (minus Fall Out Boy at the middle of the bill, thanks to COVID). I’d had tickets in hand with my partner since the show’s initial announcement way back in…whenever that was, and rather than apply for a photo pass, I figured I’d just take in the spectacle from our seats. Strangely, this isn’t something I’ve done a whole lot of in my life. Prior to my concert photo days, I can count the number of arena or stadium shows I attended on one hand. My family wasn’t big on shows like this when I was a kid, and by high school, the bands I was obsessing over were playing clubs and the occasional theater rather than spaces like Fenway. I say this as, in no way, a ploy for cred. I’d probably be a more well-adjusted person if I’d gone through a big Green Day phase at 13 instead of listening to Rockin’ the Suburbs on a constant loop.

At any rate, most of my experiences in huge venues like this have been of the media escort variety, frequently without a ticket to stick around for the show, so there was something kind of novel about seeing it all simply as an audience member. Or maybe that’s how I’m justifying the $15 tallboys. We’ll never really know.

The show itself came with all the bombast you’d hope to see at something called the Hella Mega Tour, including pillars of flame, t-shirt guns and enthusiastic, lighter-waving singalongs. Of the two main acts, Weezer were the one I did eventually have a phase with, though my relationship with the band has been pretty touch and go since the tenth grade. My only other time seeing them – a catatonic and dispiriting set at Boston Calling a few years back – also left a less than desirable taste in my mouth. I must admit though, the Van Weezer mullets-and-Flying-Vs schtick currently donned by Rivers Cuomo and crew is actually working pretty well for them. The band appeared in high spirits, the hits sounded great, even the stupid Toto cover kinda landed.

As for Green Day, “crowd-pleasing” pretty well covers it. The core trio with one of the objectively funniest collections of names in rock (sit back and consider ~Tre Cool~ for a moment, if you will) teamed with their expanded touring lineup to serve up every Green Day song you know (which, for a guy who’d never heard a record of theirs front-to-back prior to the week of the show, was still a lot!), plus a superfluous KISS cover and a fan joining them onstage for an Operation Ivy song that’s apparently one of their recurring bits. The crowd was game for every single second, right up to the full-on fireworks display to close the night. Suffice to say they’re pretty good at what they do.

From a photographic perspective, given that I was eschewing credentials, it felt like the most appropriate way for me to document the night fell to the methods I’ve been centering this feature around: film and compact cameras. My Canonet rangefinder was on my shoulder, as it often is these days, but I also picked up something specifically for this occasion after a little research on long-zoom point and shoots of the 90s and 00s. Eventually, I settled on this guy, a Canon model circa 2004 that packs a 180mm zoom into a pocketable package. That’s not to mention a key feature for my purposes: manual exposure compensation to offset the imbalanced meter readings you get from lights and dark stages from hundreds of feet away. I loaded up a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 in hopes that the speed of the film combined with said exposure compensation would keep the shutter speed high enough to get something sharp from the stands. The results, which you can see the “best” of below, were…mixed. I lost plenty of frames to camera shake, which was inevitable in retrospect, though I do think I grasped a better understanding of how and where the camera was locking exposure to combat that by the end of the night. The wider shots from the Canonet (sporting Kodak Gold 200) and the Sure Shot when it wasn’t zoomed in and stopped down to something like f/12 fared the best, but I remain undeterred from attempting to harness the long-reach potential. This one will still be in my pocket the next time I see a gig like this.

Below all those Hella Mega shots are some stragglers from elsewhere in August, including a few Canonet shots from Bright Eyes in Worcester (on that same roll of Kodak Gold) and a survey of the Saturday night at ONCE I shared in greater digital detail a little while back. I recently came into possession of a dreamy 55mm f/1.2 for Canon’s FD mount, and these are from my first roll of HP5 shot with that and the new black body FT QL I picked up to shoot it with. The set ends, as that evening did, at the Burren in Somerville, where my partner’s former coworker’s cover band Kilroe played to kind of an alarming number of wasted 20-somethings. They ripped.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and the City of Boston.