There's a local venue that has very uneven lighting. It's a great place to photograph drummers, oddly enough because the light is very good toward the back centered; plus you the stage is three quarters round, lending to excellent angles.
Toward the front of the stage, stage right (from the performer's POV) has excellent light, while center is mediocre, and stage left is terrible. At my last shoot there, I got terrific drummer shots, as you would expect, and excellent shots of the guitar player who was stage right. My shots of the lead singer (center) were just kind of okay, and those of the bass player were the worst. You can guess where he was standing. At ISO 3200, f/1.4, and shutter speed 1/60, he was still too dark to get a good exposure. All I could do was underexpose, then photoshop fix later or use flash. The best shots of him were at ISO 1600 with the 430 EX flash scaled back to minimum and bounced off the ceiling as much as possible. Then I vignetted it and adjusted the lighting in post production. They were as good as could be expected, but weren't as nice as the drummer and guitar player shots.
There's one thing I've never tried, though: Using strobes. I don't even remember the proper name for the device, but it plugs into your hot shoe and radios the strobe flashes that you can put wherever you want. Sounds like a terrific idea for those times you're forced to flash. The local venue would likely allow me to show up before the show and hang my strobes from the lighting grid. I can see how this approach could work really well. The light would no longer be coming from my camera and would therefore appear more like lighting that's part of the show.
I'm wondering if anyone here has ever tried this approach. What gear did you use? How much control do you have over your strobes? For example, if you hang up three of them, can you choose to fire all three or just whichever ones you want to? Can you adjust the flash level like you can on an external flash unit like the 430EX?
Actually, now that I think about it, I have photographed with strobes. They just weren't one controlled by my camera. The Kansas band Pomeroy had their own strobe system. It wasn't designed for photography; it was a lighting effect. One was hung offstage at far stage left (from the performer's POV) and it spun around and panned a bunch of light across the stage from time to time. Another was hung behind the audience, stage right. I timed my shots to these strobes, and many of them turned out really well. My Pomeroy shots were far superior to any shots I took of bands who played before them and didn't use the strobe system.
In any event, if anyone here has used camera-triggered strobe flashes effectively, I'm interested to hear what strategies were effective and what gear you would recommend for the Canon EOS DSLRs that most people here use. (I use a 20D.)