Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall Frenzy @ Tempe Town Lake

What a bizarre festival, right from the get-go. I was meant to cover the first two days of this event, which would have started with Shinedown and Stone Temple Pilots, however the whole thing was fubar before I even showed up.

Apparently, there was a 'bomb scare' sometime during the night... which involved an unmanned backpack near the front gate... at an outdoor event, at 100 degrees plus even after the sun went down, and drunk people at every turn... maybe someone just dropped their bag?? No.. it's a bomb. The entire front entrance was evacuated and cordoned off... roads were shut... parking was F'ed up... great start. Luckily, I parked about a mile away, not in the direction of the mayhem. But when I showed up, I wasn't allowed in, I had to wait to be brought my credentials. Which took over an hour. So I missed Shinedown's set. Bummer. (That was sarcasm there.) When I finally got in, I hung out with New Times columnist Benjamin Leatherman. We walked around the venue getting an idea of the scope of the event, and got harassed by drunk people the entire trip. It's odd, if you are just HOLDING a camera, people will ask you to take their photo. I still don't get that.

On with the show! I was told to meet a group of people from the event up near the stage to shoot STP... at 10pm. I get there, I wait, I survey. 10:45 passes, and people are launching water bottles at the stage, one guy finally hitting a crash cymbal on STP's drum kit. The photogs are told that the band is on their way, but have missed all sorts of engagements that day prior to the show. At this point, I'd be surprised if I shoot anything this night.

Eventually, the band walks on stage, and start playing like nothing happened. This time around there is no one in the pit with us ready to catch singer, Scott Wieland, should he fall off the stage. Maybe he was cleaned up for the tonight's gig. Yeah, maybe. Maybe I'm a Chinese fighter pilot. I recognized one song during my 2-song stint of shooting... "Wicked Garden"... the one song I know by STP that I can't stand. After song two, I was glad to be on my way home.

The next day would prove to be a better day. The lineup I was scheduled for was Devo, Primus, Sublime (with Rome... some guy who is not the original singer/guitarist), and Weezer. I was pretty psyched actually. Especially to shoot Primus, and be able to actually stay and watch their set. I got in the gates with minimal drama, and only caught the very end of Devo's set. I walked around and grabbed a few crowd shots, hung out in the New Times VIP lounge tent, and then made my way over to the stage for Primus.

I'm not totally current with Primus, so I didn't really know why there were two giant blow-up astronauts on stage with them, but, hey, does it NEED an explanation? When I saw Les Claypool walk on stage, I got pretty happy. What a strange dude... and what a great musician. I got to actually just chill and watch them play "Those Damn Blue Collared Tweakers" from the pit... that was probably the highlight of the entire festival for me. I ran into Randy Johnson again... he was shooting Primus from the pit with me. Neat.

Sublime "with Rome"... I don't know. I could go down a very harsh road if I say too much about this act. But let's just say, they showed up and played. I was pretty shocked by what I saw... and I'm not even a Sublime fan. I don't think many REAL Sublime fans could get behind this. Maybe I'm wrong. But how often does that happen?

The night finally started to wind down for me and Weezer was up next. I was moderately excited to shoot them. I like them... I'm not the biggest fan... but I have a two albums on my iPhone and a bunch of one-off tracks. Rivers came out looking, once again, like Buddy Holly... which, I guess you could attack him for... but that's his look. I'm glad he's back to it. It's what the fans like to see. It's that nerdy look they can relate to.

Weezer's set was unfortunately plagued with technical difficulties right from the start. During the first song, "Hash Pipe" (if I recall correctly), Rivers couldn't hear himself in the monitors... really only evident to the keen listener during the falsetto parts. He was hand-motioning to the sound guy off stage to turn certain things up, and other things down in his monitor so he could hear. Apparently tho, the guy wasn't on the same wavelength. After the song finished, Rivers explained to the crowd that they have a new sound guy and they are still working out the kinks. He went through exactly what he needed done before he started the second song. But during that song, things were still messed up, and Rivers started knocking mics over until he got it right. Bassist Scott Shriner at one point looked even more upset than Rivers when his bass went out. He just stopped playing, and they brought him another bass... which seemed to have a similar problem. He just sort of frowned the entire second song. But he and Rivers both came out of it pretty quickly, and they were on to rocking.

I didn't stay and watch the entire set... I'd had a pretty crazy weekend already at that point... but I'm sure it would have been the highlight to most people's weekend. This entire blog post, I just realized, is pretty normal. I must apologize... I promise something more interesting next time. At least you got to see some photos right?

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