Stetsons, cowboy boots, big beers and belt buckles, it must be country music time here at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, California. It was a perfect late summer / early fall evening for a concert. Now the rules for photographing this show were a little odd, we were allowed to shoot the 2nd and 3rd songs of each artists set from the pit. I have no idea why, but hey, I’ve had weirder restrictions in the past. The real wrinkle in covering the action happened as I pulled into the parking area when I got an email from the local media representative to inform the photographers that when they said from the pit, what they actually meant was from the audience area infant of the stage, not inside the barricade. This allowed for more diverse angles but combined with the short shooting time and making sure we didn’t get in the way of any concert goers enjoying the show, a more difficult shoot. I love my job, but some nights are just a little more work than others. On the plus side, the lights were awesome, the music was fantastic, and the overall show was highly enjoyable.
Up first were Runaway June, a trio of very talented women who kicked the show off with a high energy set. The only downside was watching the first song with my cameras at my side as it was the only time during the first three songs where the three artists were next to each other, making a photo of all three performing together impossible. For the folks who didn’t make it into the venue for the opening acts, you really missed out. These three woman are going places and the crowd that was in place to catch their set will be telling people years from now that they were there back when. Not only do they sound great, they know how to work that stage. I can’t wait to see them again
Naomi Cooke – Lead Vocals / Guitar
Natalie Stovall – Vocals / Fiddle / Guitar
Jennifer Wayne – Vocals / Guitar
Next up was Dylan Scott, and while the crowd had increased during the Runaway June set, there was still ample space for me to move around the stage, that would change by the time luke Bryan took the stage. I have to say that the highlight of the set for me was the shotgunning beer segment with a couple of guys in the audience leading into Beer Buddies, an anthem to great friends and, well, drinking beer. During his set, there was a steady, heavy, stream of people entering the venue, and by the time he took a bow, the place was filled. I will never understand why people don’t show up earlier to catch the opening acts, especially of the caliber at this show.
Dylan Scott – Vocal, Rhythm Guitar
Logan Scott – Lead guitar
Garrett Cline – Bass
Darrick Cline – Drums
Finally it was time for Like Bryan to take the stage and the crowd was warmed up and ready. The last time I saw (and photographed) Luke was ten years ago when he opened for Tim McGraw at the same venue. Some things have changed, it’s now the luke Bryan tour, while others others have really stayed the same, Luke puts on a hell of show and the crowd sang along all night long. The effortless way he interacts with the crowd makes the 20,000 amphitheater seem as intimate as a local bar, a crowed local bar. By the time the second song started and I was allowed to photograph, the pit area in front of the stage was packed in tight making it a real challenge, good thing I’m tall.
Luke Bryan – Vocals / Guitar
Michael Carter – Lead Guitar and Bandleader
Dave Ristrim – Acoustic Guitar / Banjo / Pedal Steel / Electric Guitar / Dobro.
Jason Fausset – Keyboard
Kevin Arrowsmith – Fiddle / Viola / Mandolin / Guitar.
James Cook – Bass
Kent Slucher – Drums