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Backstage. Curiosity regarding the place in which few are allowed to venture definitely makes eyebrows raise. Thanks to Polar Bear Club’s tour manager, Tracker, I was able to shoot the AP Tour from a different perspective than the night before.

My access pass required me to be escorted backstage, so rather than asking to be escorted back every 30 minutes I decided to shoot from the front until Polar Bear Club. Then I’d stick around to watch from the stage.

The show started off with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes from Canada. With a southern rock vibe, they brought a different sound to the show that seemed to go over well with the audience. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the luxury of dramatic lighting so most of their set was blanketed in shadow. Still, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes put forth their best efforts to rock the stage and it got the crowd warmed up for the rest of the show.

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I definitely wanted to get some shots of This Is Hell since I didn’t get to shoot from the pit the night before. Lighting was an issue at times, but their performance surely wasn’t. It amazes me how much energy these guys have to play back-to-back shows on a tour. Their stage presence was great, it’s crazy to think how stepping up to the edge of the stage instantly changes the relationship between band and audience.

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I hadn’t planned on going to this show, but Tracker said he’d take care of things if I went. So the least I could do was shoot extra frames of Polar Bear Club. As usual, their performance was top-notch with excellent instrument work and vocals. Couple that with their high-energy actions and they’ve got the full package stage show. This worked extremely well for me as I was able to capture some new favorite images.

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Tracker escorted me backstage where I started my side stage shooting for the night. Having watched PBC so many times from the crowd, it was quite interesting to watch from side-stage at a venue like Club Nokia. I could hear the conversations between band members and even Bring Me The Horizon’s guitar tech, Dean Rowbotham chiming in to sing a line while restringing guitars.

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Immediately after their set, a crew of venue stage hands appeared out of nowhere to rush Polar Bear Club’s equipment off stage so Emarosa could jump on. Once all their equipment was packed up, the band loaded into the large elevator to immediately load their van. “I love shows like this: put the stuff away now so you don’t have to worry about it after the show.”

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I explored a little more during Emarosa‘s set. I checked out the side-stage soundboard to watch the engineer at work. I watched the band and the audience simultaneously to see how the two were reacting to each other. It was refreshing to actually face the fans while they sang along and not just hear hear them. Besides Jonny Craig’s Michael-Jackson-like crotch dance while facing backstage, I think the highlight of Emarosa’s set was seeing a girl crying in the front row as if she were watching Justin Bieber.

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August Burns Red doesn’t hit the stage until after their (hilariously amazing) intro. While the song and lights are going on-stage, just off-stage the guys are joking, smiling, and shaking off any hint of nervousness. At the striking of the first chord I saw the crowd explode with a massive energetic movement that would not cease even after ABR left the stage. One of the coolest sights of the set occurred when the crowd was asked to put their cell phones in the air. What really got my eyes popping out was being able to watch drummer, Matt Greiner, up close and his intense concentration to keep time regardless of how chaotic his drumming had to be. Things like a kiss between singer Jake Luhrs and his fiance, or even a funny face made between guitarist and drummer happen so fast and nonchalantly that you just don’t notice it from the crowd. What I did notice was the smiles as the band left the stage to chants of “ONE MORE SONG!”.

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Bring Me The Horizon damn near brought the building down. I was blown away at seeing the crowd from their point of view. It makes perfect sense as to why vocalist Oli Sykes spends a lot of his time at the edge of the stage, often crouched to the eye-level of fans. They LOVE it. Hearing the crowd singing the intro for “Diamonds Aren’t Forever” was something I’ll never forget. Behind-the-scenes work is done just out of the audience’s eyes so we never really get to appreciate how much work a band’s crew puts in. Throughout the set, Rowbotham was working diligently to make sure guitars were in tune, the right guitars were on stage for the right songs, the proper channels were selected, and of course dealing with unexpected problems that popped up. It’s one thing to be in the crowd and feel that energy, but to be on stage and feel the band’s every jump or stomp shake the floor was new and exciting.

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Although I still say the best view is from the crowd, getting to hang backstage was an awesome experience. Seeing all the satisfied faces in the audience, it’s no wonder why so many people want to be in any of the bands’ shoes.  I got to meet a lot of cool and interesting people during and after the show involved with the AP Tour. I’m a little bummed I really only got to hang for that night. In any case, touring in any role is definitely on my bucket list!

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Many thanks to Polar Bear Club and Tracker for fully hooking me up for this show. Tracker, the whole “this might be the last time you see me” thing better not be true!