Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Coachella - Day 1

Friday at 7am I set off for Indio, CA. After nearly 4 hours of driving, and a quick meeting with my pals at Spin, I arrive in my parking space on the Coachella festival grounds... nearly a mile away from the entrance. My friend Jim Louvau is with me from the AZ Republic. We strap on our gear and start walking. We get to the press ticket line, which takes roughly an hour to get through. We sign out waivers and get our credentials and get in the gates.

The grounds are amazing. Very soft grass covers everything, so you could be shoeless the whole time. Gigantic art installations are set up all around. Outdoor stages, and stages in tents sprinkled in everywhere. And very expensive food vendors in every direction. This was something very neat to be a part of.

This being my first Coachella experience, I didn't quite know what to expect. My first shoot was in the medium sized tent with a band called Cage The Elephant. There were probably 25 photogs huddled into a space that normally houses 3 or 4 photogs. This was a sign of things to come. I couldn't believe how many people were covering this event. As the night went on and the bands were better known, seeing something like 50+ photogs was not uncommon.

The trek from stage to stage became very daunting in the heat with all the gear I carried. I brought with me my Canon 20d, a rented 1D Mk2, my 17-40mm f4 lense, a 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 lense, my Macbook Pro, and a laptop bag full of chargers and other miscellanea. It all became very heavy. The weather was great the first day. It even got cold at night.

I had a list of bands that I needed to cover, and ended up running around like mad until I caught my bearings. It all started to smooth out eventually. I was hired freelance for Spin, who also sent a staff photographer named Misha Vladimirsky. I wasn't able to shoot Paul McCartney, which was a big let down. Only a few photogs were selected (by Paul's people) and Misha got to cover him. But the shoot was only from the sound board, so it wasn't as glamorous as it could have been. But let me say, Paul McCartney KILLED! His was, by far, the best performance of the weekend. The music, the lights, the humongous screens, and of course, the Beatle himself! It was something quite on another level to watch. He played for over 2 hours, and I didn't see anyone leave that set.

On the first day, a few of my other personal highlights would be:

Patton and Rahzel. I am a huge Mike Patton fan. And getting to be close up and snap some great pictures was a really rad experience. His performance was totally bizarre and unique. Exactly what you would come to expect from him. There is no one doing what this guy does. He should be way more well known than he is.

Franz Ferdinand. This was actually quite a pleasant surprise. Not that I dislike them, but I thought they put on a really great show. It was very tight and very upbeat. It was just what people needed when the sun was going down. I wish I could have watched more of this set actually. Time to download more Franz!

Morrissey. I've never been a Morrissey fan, but the man entertained in his own way. That voice hasnt changed one bit. Another nice surprise.

For more of mine and Misha's pics, check out Spin.com. There will probably be another slide show up soon with more of my pics of people and sights. Day 2 coming soon!

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