[First of all, if you haven’t already, make sure you read the previous entry to find out how I got here]
On the bus ride to the show, Peter (Cassette) and I had a good talk about our mutual hobby of photography. I mean, most of it was complaining that people who get into photography today have it easy with the digital cameras, Photoshop, and the accelerated learning curve. I picked up photography as a teenager from my friend Zach. Strictly shooting film on a Nikon SLR, it took me years to figure out what kids today learn in weeks.
Aside from time, it was costly. Depending on the film, and where I developed my rolls, it’d cost me an average of $15 to get back 36 photos of over/under-exposed rubbish. Even better would be shooting a band to walk offstage and realize you never even loaded your film properly.
The point being that some of my fondest memories, and favorite photography, were rooted in summer music festivals like Saturday’s Epicenter at the Pomona fairgrounds. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot a variety of musicians at these kinds of events, from Mos Def to The Paladins, Sonic Youth to The Get Up Kids, Sleater-Kinney, Helmet, A Tribe Called Quest, and even Sublime a few months before Brad passed. I had forgotten what it was like to be in an environment where thousands of young kids congregated to share nothing but a good time. The atmosphere at these day-long concerts is electric, the extreme temperatures churn out sweat and grease, yet the kids are nothing but smiles.
It’s generally not so much fun shooting strangers in real life because everyone gets camera shy and/or thinks you’re going to plaster their image all over the internet. But wherever you point your camera at shows like these, everyone is so genuinely enthused to be there that they turn into the most willing subjects.
So after Alice in Chains cleaned up, Linkin Park was next and I headed down to the photo pit to rub elbows with all kinds of professional photographers. Staffers for AP, local newspapers, online media, band publicity, music magazines, etc. I feel at home down here, it’s a different kind of moshpit in the barricaded photographers’ area with all the shutterbugs gunning for that one money shot.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen John, although he’s in the pit on a nightly basis. John and I used to shoot for our high school newspaper, but since then he’s gone on to shoot professionally as a staffer for Wire Image. Years ago, we did a The Hundreds Chronicle on him, if you remember. Check out his portfolio, you’ll be impressed.
John and I were in the middle of catching up when I heard scratching coming from the speakers behind us. Sure enough, Joe had taken the stage and the crowd was losing their noodles. I just realized Joe’s big-upping his store SURU there. Nice.
This is my favorite shot from the day. Just sayin’.
Alright, I’ll admit I don’t know much of Linkin Park’s music outside of all the radio jams, but you know what? Whether you want to admit it or not, by sheer numbers and popularity, this right here is the Rock and Roll band of our generation. This is that band that our kids will listen to in decades and ask “Daddy, did you ever see Linkin Park play live?” And now I can say, “Yes, son, I did. Now stop eating your boogers and finish your cereal.”
Joe and Mike doin’ their thang. Imagine really loud music and fainting teenagers to accompany these photos.
So as anyone who’s shot photos at big concerts can attest to, Security kicks all media out after the first 3 songs of the set.
Monster Energy Drinks had a VIP arena front-and-center for guests to watch the show without getting sweated on or jabbed with glow sticks. So I headed over there to finish off the night. The general area was buzzing with all kinds of bad B-list VH1 celebrities.. I swear half these girls were on one of those horrible “Something of Love” dating shows. Imagine lots of gold foil print on t-shirts and Frankenstein boobs. I also saw Steve-O with hair.
I made my way down to the reserved room for friends and family and watched the rest of the guys’ set next to the soundboards guys. The view was much better from here.
The guys closed off their set, Chester introduced his new band, Tool headlined the night. But by this time I was already back over at the bus eating sausage pizza and chopping it up with more friends who made the trek in from L.A.
It was a good day. My 15-year-old self gave me a high five for that one.