I hadn’t shot a Music Festival before. I came very close last year being assigned to photograph the Soundwave Festival, but I fell ill that week and missed out on the opportunity. This year, I got allocated passes to photography the annual Big Day Out sojourn and I was very much looking forward to it seeing as Primus, Ghost, Vista Chino and Deftones were on the bill.
The last Big Day Out I attended was in 2000 which was co-headlined by Nine Inch Nails. I was part of the broadcast crew that year and pretty much spent the entire day working and backstage. Nine Inch Nails was the only band I ventured out to see.
Knowing I would be photographing today, I set about planning what acts I would be shooting well in advance and made sure there were no clashing timetables.
On the day of the event, the heavens had opened up and there was a crazy amount of rainfall over Melbourne. Signs didn’t look good and I was preparing myself for a literal slog of a day. By the time I got to the venue at midday, it was a perfect Melbourne summer’s day and the rain stayed away.
Ok. Let’s do this!
I made my way to the media enclosure and along the way bumped into all sorts of colleagues and riff raff that I usually bump soldiers with in the photo-pit.
And then it was time for today’s first shoot Primus, who were playing on the main-stage. I hadn’t shot Primus before, but I had photographed a very memorable Les Claypool gig back in my rookie years. To this day, that remains one of the most amazing shows I have ever been to so I was pretty keen to mingle with Primus.
The first thing I noticed as a festival photographer, the photo pit for one is incredibly large and the plethora of photographers in the pit is vast! 20, 30, 40 at a time in the pit. It gets crowded very quickly and you have to be conscious of not bumping into your fellow photographer or get in the way of their shot.
Today I was shooting for SFMedia and my instructions were to just concentrate on the heavier acts and that already made my load considerably easier. In between acts, I would send my editor iPhone snaps which could go directly to SFMedia’s Facebook page and other social media outlets.
Also between acts, I would head back to the media enclosure to catch a break before heading out to the next shoot.
The media tent was a plethora of activity with various bands coming in for their press and TV interviews.
Next on the agenda where The Hives. Can’t say I knew too much about them, but they proved to be a ton of fun and a band I pencilled in to check out again. They commanded the main stage with presence and a totally fun and energetic vibe. Really enjoyed them.
For the rest of the day, I would be pretty much shooting the JBL Purple stage which featured acts such as Northlane, Vista Chino, Ghost and Deftones. That worked out very cool for me as they were the exact acts I had pencilled in to shoot for the remainder of the day.
Metalcore act Northlane were up. Can’t say I really dig that genre to be brutally honest, but the lads put in a frenetic set filled ‘jump the fuck up’ in appropriate places and they were greeted with a pretty responsive crowd that did in fact… jump the fuck up.
The day kicked into high gear next when Vista Chino took the stage and gave it a veritable stranglehold pummelling through Kyuss classics and new Vista Chino tracks. Seriously, they were great and I thoroughly enjoyed what they had to offer.
Back to the media tent for a break, I noticed that one of Ghost’s Nameless Ghouls was being interviewed. This one was Alpha Ghoul, (he has the symbol of the triangle and is the lead guitarist). Funnily enough, he looked kinda smaller than I expected putting fuel to the fire that there is a spokesman Ghoul who isn’t in the band and does all the interviews, or it was Papa Emeritus dressed as a ghoul and doing the press.
Anyway. When he was done with the TV interview, I just so happened to have my copy of ‘Infestissumam’ Redux with me, so I politely asked for an autograph. As you do!
I was excited to be seeing Ghost twice in two days so it was with great haste I made my way back to the photo-pit in readiness for tonight’s performance. Again, they delivered the goods in spades and they played to a receptive audience decked out in all manner of Ghost tees and paraphernalia.
I was shooting with the amazing Canon 70-200 2.8 tonight so I could get in nice and tight and close and it was very eerie being able to focus in on the eyes of the masked Ghouls and Papa who I found leering directly into the camera on numerous occasions!
I was on such a high shooting Ghost again (yes, yes fanboy of the highest calibre) that I felt I wasn’t fully on my game when the Deftones took the stage. Superb is a perfect word to describe the Deftones live. Geez, they are an amazing live act and pour every ounce of energy and raw emotion into their sets. Amazing band and shooting them for the second time was a personal treat for me.
All in all, a tiring but super fun day! I finally broke my Festival cherry and now very much looking forward to getting my teeth sunk into next month’s Soundwave Festival.