The Fine Line was ablaze with energy and adrenaline on Thursday night. It brought me back to when I used to go to shows in the heyday of Station 4 in Saint Paul. As I stepped into the venue, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the mosh pits, the sweaty camaraderie, and the electrifying rush that defined those unforgettable nights. This marked my triumphant return to photographing concerts since the pre-COVID era, reminding me of the sensory explosion that live music brings.
Unlike some larger venues, The Fine Line’s lack of a designated photo pit adds to the challenge and excitement of capturing those perfect shots. At 5’2″, height isn’t my ally, so I strategically secured my spot in the crowd about 10 minutes before the show, ready to seize the visual moments that would soon unfold.
Kicking off the night was the spirited trio from Kansas City, Hammerhedd. Their blend of classic thrash interwoven with progressive grooves set the pace, gradually raising the temperature in the venue. A modest mosh pit emerged, hinting at the energy that would soon erupt, a testament to the evening’s impending sonic journey.
Following suit was the Texas-based powerhouse, I AM. Andrew Hileman, the magnetic frontman, effortlessly commanded the stage, an absolute delight to capture through my lens. Their fusion of death metal with speed and power ignited the crowd instantaneously. The moshpit wasn’t far behind either as people started catapulting their bodies in the pit. The audience, akin to an ocean wave, swayed and surged, and as the night unfolded, the stage was set for the unstoppable force yet to come.
Enter Toxic Holocaust, driven by the unapologetic spirit of 80s West Coast hardcore punk and iconic metal legends like Hellhammer and Discharge. Their music, a venomous blend of aggression and unyielding fury, hit like a tidal wave. I have a soft spot for a solid discharge beat, and it was evident that the crowd shared my sentiment. Frontman Joel Grind beckoned fans to surf the crowd, an invitation that ignited a steady stream of metal enthusiasts soaring above the sea of heads. The battle cry was real – both on and off the stage – as fans, propelled by the relentless rhythm, thrashed and collided. Amidst the chaos, I safeguarded my camera and head, both emerging intact and victorious. Toxic Holocaust’s performance was an uncontainable eruption, a showcase of skillful musicianship and unbridled energy.
Havok, taking the stage next, wasted no time in catapulting the intensity to another level. The audience responded in kind, a flurry of crowd surfers riding waves of sonic fervor. Frontman David Sanchez led the charge, his commanding presence a rallying cry that echoed through the ecstatic crowd. Havok’s onslaught of technical drums, searing guitar riffs, and head-banging spectacle intensified the sonic assault. The combination of these elements, alongside a dazzling light show that bordered on the sublime, resulted in a performance that left an indelible mark. Every song evoked a collective shout from the crowd, a harmonious union of band and fans.
In a whirlwind of thrash metal brilliance, the night culminated, leaving no doubt about the enduring power of live music. The Fine Line bore witness to a symphony of unrelenting fury and uninhibited passion. It was more than a concert; it was a visceral journey that reignited the soul and left a lingering craving for more.