A few years back I shot a boatload of concerts. From Dashboard Confessional at Madison Square Garden to Dave Matthews Band at Red Rocks, I criss-crossed the country shooting concerts to cover my rent. It was certainly a fun couple of years. When I think back, I can’t help but think about how much time is taken up preparing for concerts on the actual day of.
In everything else I do, there is a certain amount of down time. It isn’t anything “set aside,” but it just happens. In a baseball game, there is standing around as we wait for the game to start. In auto racing, there is always time between the cars coming and going from one’s side of the race track. Later this week I’ll be at the Red Bull Flug Tag here in Chicago, and that event SCREAMS downtime. However, in concerts, there seems to be a constant drum of effort. (No pun intended.)
From setting up cameras, to sound checks, to lighting checks to souvenir stands popping up, there is always activity. I don’t think I worked a single concert where we sat around playing cards or swapping stories from the road. Even when it was a four-day concert, the following day was spent going over the previous night’s show working on what we could do different. I’m not saying its good or bad, I just think its interesting.
So last year when I shot Rodrigo y Gabriella in Chicago, it was interesting to shoot a show for no other reason than myself. I showed up to took some pictures, then enjoyed the show. The deal I had with their management company (as all concert photographers this particular night had) was we could shoot the first three songs and then we were escorted out. I had tickets to the show anyway, so I joined my wife in our seats and rock and rolled to some of the best guitar playing I’ve ever seen.