Hmmm, bored tonight and checking up on some neglected boards, catching up on some old threads
I do a fair bit of shooting in nightclubs, mostly showcase acts in smaller places with really poor lighting. Flash is often a necessary evil, especially when you're limited to f/4-f/5.6 lenses (it's all about money).
The trick, for me, is often to try to balance the flash with stage lighting - I'll either dial down the FEC, or aim the flash away from the subject, usually at the ceiling (Canon Speedlite 420EX, adjustable head, very handy), sometimes with a bounce reflector. Cranking the ISO up to 800 (or 1600 if the lighting is REALLY poor, which gets pretty noisy on my 300D), then shooting 1/30-1/50 with the lens wide open usually does the trick. If done properly, flash can really help the shot. For example:
This is using the bounce reflector. Little bright on his hand, and I didn't fiddle too much with fixing it.
Flash aimed at the ceiling using the swivel head... a little fog helps reduce the distraction of the background.
Again with the bounce reflector.
Of course, these bands typically don't even have a single roadie, let alone a light operator or lighting director, so there's not a lot of concern about "ruining the mood".
The sinlge thing that helps the most, I find, is fog. Not a lot, usually - just enough to cover up the generally bland or ugly background and provide a little more "depth" to the scene. I picked up a small fogger for about $35 that many craft stores sell around Halloween and take it along when I'm planning on shooting a band - nobody yet has turned down my request to use it, as bands tend to really like fog as well
A few examples:
This is also using flash with the reflector; fog helps provide a more interesting backdrop with the light beams..
[Image: 775670426_m.jpg] [Image: 1356834086_m.jpg] [Image: 1356838446_m.jpg]
These last three are all just a strong backlight with fog.
(Larger versions are available on my page at http://www.myspace.com/moltenimage