Day two was fun. There was a storm, mud and crowds I’ve never experienced before.
But day three is what I’ve been waiting for.
My schedule was light on Saturday. I only had four bands to shoot, so I took more time to enjoy the festival.
My first act was Salva, which is a DJ who played Perry’s stage. He was neither here nor there. Security wouldn’t let photographers in the pit straight away, because a representative from the Lolla staff wasn’t there yet.
These were the photos Time Out posted here.
In the meantime, Salva started, and then suddenly several guys from security ran past two other photographers and myself. All three of us tore after them. They had tackled two guys to the ground. I assumed they didn’t something wrong. But no one knew anything.
I got into Salva’s pit after that. Took some shots and left. The DJs are boring to shoot. You can’t see them in their booths very well, and the crowds just bob their heads and wave their hands.
Neon Indian, August 4, 2012
I shot a group called Neon Indian (link to pictures) next. They drew more of a crowd. While I was waiting to enter the pit, I noticed clouds forming in the distance. Storm clouds.
As we were shooting, I could tell that my direct sunlight was becoming diffuse. At one point, I turned to take a shot of the crowd, and the clouds were looking fierce.
After leaving the pit, another photographer approached me and said, “Storm’s coming. It’s going to get wet.”
“Thanks for the hot tip,” I said.
By the time I got a sandwich for lunch and was walking toward the press tent, a voice came over the speakers and said, “The national weather service has issued a storm warning that has forced us to evacuate the festival.”
Short and sweet. The guy said, “Leave now.”
Our Time Out Chicago staff told us to meet at the Time Out offices on the 17th floor of a building nearby. We were able to enjoy the storm from there, and man, was it nasty. The lightning appeared red. The color of the sky was something out of a horror movie.
The rain delayed the schedule. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were supposed to go on at 8, and they got pushed back to 9. There was also word that only 50 photographers were allowed in the pit. So my editor asked if I’d camp out to guarantee a spot.
Before I walked over, I grabbed a vodka on the rocks from the media tents. They serve happy hour gratis if you’re around. So I sat and sipped my cocktail listening to tUnE-yArDs. By the time the closer came on, Bizness, I was feeling a little lighter and I bobbed my head a bit more.
If you’ve never heard the song, check it here.
At about 7:30 — a full hour and a half before Chili Peppers were to start — I was in a line of about 12 photographers. The guys around me were awesome. This one dude shoots for SPIN magazine. I don’t remember who this other guy shoots for, but he was really cool and I could tell he was a weathered photographer who doesn’t amazing work in the industry. He showed me a recent photo from a shoot.
Darn, I wish I remembered his name.
As it got dark and the crowd thickened, I started thinking, “How am I going to get out of here once it’s over?” The energy was nuts. My excitement was increasing fast.
Security started counting us off. We got our releases to sign, and we used each others backs to fill them out. We shared a beer. All the photographers I’ve met have been amazingly cool.
Then they let us in.
I took a look around and thought, “Fifty photographers is a lot.” Especially when security demanded that we stay off the back rail. So we were pushed into each other. Since I’m taller and I know the stage is high, I stand as far back so I can get the best shots. But I kept getting pushed by security, and sometimes right in the middle of a photo.
I also knew from shooting them before that RHCP has their own video camera crew on top of the Lolla video cameras.
Between fighting the security, the other photographers pushing for position, rain falling from off the top of the stage roof, it was the hardest pit I’ve ever experienced.
After two songs, security kicked the photographers out of the pit. I tried turning while walking to take a shot. “STOP TAKING PICTURES!!!” they screamed.
We got out and the sea of people was endless. Sardines have more space.
The exit was mobbed with people as all the shutter bugs pushed toward it. People were still streaming in, and we were the idiot few trying to get the hell out. One girl walked toward me with the crowd holding her camera up saying, “I have to get behind you. I can’t get out.”
“Let’s do this!” I said.
I have never pushed so hard and been as scared as I was last night. I had my two cameras above my head, and for at least 20 minutes, we fought the incoming traffic to get out. When we were half way up, I looked back. I looked forward, and I knew that if something happened, I could get trampled. So I leaned in a little harder and used as much torso and leg strength to push against the guys in front of me.
Even within the chaos, everyone was being cool. Which is weird. It just sucked.
So if you go check my pictures at Time Out, the reason the head photo makes them look like a couple of monkeys, it’s because I was pissed off about how poor the conditions were last night.