It’s been over 3 weeks since the FPSF music festival which took place the weekend of June 1st and 2nd. The annual craziness happened to fall right smack dab in the middle of moving which only magnified my stress level around that time. This year, after the festival, since I had already fulfilled my immediate duties to my editorial client and given the lack of any additional deadlines, I decided to let my photos marinate a bit. I do this sometimes with big events where there is a lot of content to go through. I honestly do not envy wedding photographers in this regard as a typical assignment for me, regardless of how many images I take, ends up with only a handful of finished and edited files. Having every shoot consist of thousands of captures and hundreds of edits is mind-blowing.
This was the 5th year of FPSF (note: due to the “other” Summerfest in Wisconsin, we will now refer to the Free Press Summerfest music festival as simply “FPSF”) and my 5th year photographing the festival. On the Monday following this year’s weekend I had nearly 7000 images from the 3 cameras that I shot with. For all you nerds out there I mostly used (2) Canon 5D mark III bodies with a slurry of lenses, mostly primes. On day 1 I was fortunate to be able to test out a Phase One IQ 160 medium format digital back with my Hasselblad 501cw outfit courtesy of Digital Transitions in NYC.
If you remember last year, not only did I photograph the festival for several clients, but my band performed as well which made things a bit hectic. This year I was only a photographer and not a performer but I did have a couple of additional things that made life interesting. In past years I was forced to drag my laptop and transmit live on site. This year I purchased a couple of 16gb Eye-Fi pro SD cards and used those to send selected images wirelessly from the camera body to my iphone. After receiving the images on my phone I was able to use several mobile apps including Snapseed and the Photoshop mobile app to edit the image before sending off to the client directly. There was a learning curve, but I had made sure way before the actual festival that I knew how the process worked and it worked great on site. After years of seeing colleagues utilize the technology, Im glad to have it in my arsenal. It was a lot easier than having to worry about another bag with my laptop and figuring out how to secure on-site wifi access, etc. Big thanks go out to Caleb Hernandez for being a super rad assistant that kept me on my game both days.
In addition to all of that, the great people over at I <3 Texas Photo contacted me about guest instagramming on their account during the weekend. Since cell phone data connectivity is sketchy at huge music festival I wasn’t able to post as many images as I would have liked, but I was thankful for the opportunity and hopefully both our accounts got some nice exposure. They even sent me an awesome I <3 Texas Photo shirt to show off during the fest! If http://ilovetexasphoto.com isnt bookmarked, you need to click the link and apple + D now!
In years past I have done different things as far as presenting my favorite photos in blog format. This year Im simply going to post my favorite images here with short little blurbs under each, followed by a slideshow via Photoshelter where you can see all 115 of my edited selects.
If you are interested in purchasing a print or licensing of any of the images, you can do so directly from my archive here: http://toddspoth.com or just get in contact directly!
It was great to see so many friends perform this year. The Niceguys are always amazing live. They were one of the first sets I caught all weekend. This is Yves, one of my favorite MC’s in Houston right now.
I forget which stage this was called, but it was smaller and off on its own, tucked under a major freeway bridge. It was sponsored by Red Bull and was very hip-hop heavy. It was definitely the scene of some of my favorite moments during the weekend including Paul Wall signing autographs for fans after his performance. The stage allowed the performer and the audience to interact throughout the set.
After Paul’s set, I ventured over to one of the larger stages in anticipation of The Geto Boys set. The crowd waited, we waited, and ultimately Bushwick Bill showed up too late, turning The Geto Boys performance into a Scarface and Willie-D performance. The Geto Boys are thankfully making up for their missed full set by playing a free show on July 4th at the House of Blues in Houston. I liked this quick frame I grabbed while I waited on stage for the set. So many characters in such a tight frame. I wonder if that dude knows that I was not responsible for the lack of the third Geto Boy.
After The Geto Boys I jumped stages once again in preparation for 2 Chainz. I have photographed him several times before, but as always I like to try and not only photograph the artist on stage, but capture the backstage moments as well as possibly a portrait. Since a lot of the bigger artists are pretty guarded, access can be tough depending on the situation. I was able to find a nice spot merely steps away from the stage in the case that I was able to wrangle 2 Chainz into a quick 20 second portrait. Turns out he had to head straight to the airport to jump on a plane, but the above is my test frame from the would-be set. I think he would have looked nice sitting on that bench in his always out there wardrobe. Oh well, next time.
I was able to grab this quick portrait of rapper, Action Bronson prior to his performance back at the Red Bull stage. He has a unique look and I love the look and his eyes here. After posting it on my own Instagram (follow me?) yesterday, he also posted it with the only caption being “Beauty”. I guess that means he liked it?
As the sun began to set, it was time for the much anticipated headliners of the night. I am not a huge fan of Iggy Pop or The Stooges, but I respect the history and Iggy was an absolute blast to shoot. His instantly-recognizable look is among the best in rock and roll. This is one of my favorite frames of his set. I love that you can barely see his face through his long hair.
The Postal Service closed out the night. It was an incredible performance. I think I was one of the only ones there who had seen them before, but this was on a different level. Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley fame accompanied the duo and made the familiar songs shine. It was definitely on a short list of festival “must-see’s” and it lived up to the hype. So great. Unlike previous years I really didn’t concentrate on the big headliners or their big lighting setups, so this was one of the only times throughout the weekend where I was able to play with stage lighting. I love how Jenny is only slightly illuminated by the stage lights here. And yes Jenny was the red-head from the epic movie, The Wizard.
Day 2 started off slowly per usual and the rain that poured that morning only added to the lull, however it was my mission to get to the festival early to catch my good friends in Forced Fem. Most of these guys I have known for over a decade so its awesome to see them on stage after all these years. This is Dennis fronting a fairly new band, Forced Fem. Dennis is an awesome performer and easy to photograph. I liked this one of him onstage. It was about noon on a Sunday, which his facial expression sums up perfectly: fast punk rock on a Sunday at noon.
I captured this adorable little girl walking near her parents on the way back to the Red Bull stage. It was still very early so the crowds were only beginning to trickle in. She had on those huge pink headphones and wore a small sticker with the crudely handwritten phone number to her parents like a badge of honor on her shirt. Her parents were happy to give me her name for the proper caption.
Next up was local favorite, Doughbeezy. I have photographed him several times before so I definitely made it a point to be there for his set. I had several from the set that I liked, but I especially dug this one.
And then I decided to climb into the back of a pickup truck to get a better angle on the crowd, unfortunately after only a few frames EVERYONE decided to join me.
After squeezing my way out of the truck bed and through the crowd, I made it on stage where I grabbed this frame of Kim from Matt & Kim enjoying herself thoroughly. PS: She is the absolute best at playing drums, jumping onto her kick drum, then jumping back down again. THE BEST!
Matt & Kim seriously had the place going nuts. This is a frame of the crowd during their awesome set.
Then Macklemore took the stage and the crowd really went nuts. The sunlight was great during his set and he was great to photograph. I photographed his set back in November at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin and since then he has blown up huge!
At one point early in the set, Macklemore had a guy in the crowd loan him his mink jacket to wear during his hit Thrift Shop. This is quiet moment before that song started that I liked. He looks so quiet and peaceful here, but there are thousands of fans watching him and within seconds he would explode into a ball of energy to perform his #1 hit.
The last set of the weekend for me was rapper Machine Gun Kelly or MGK. I hadn’t heard too much of his music but since I like to focus on hip-hop I decided to forgo the impressive lights of the actual Sunday headliner, Bassnectar and instead see what Machine Gun Kelly was all about. First of all his performance featured not only a DJ, but live drums and guitar which I am a huge fan of. Anytime you can see a hip hop show with live instrumentation it’s automatically 100% more raw and in your face. Both the drummer and guitarist for MGK were phenomenal musicians and performers. MGK had a throng of fans there to catch his set and you could tell that he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder for playing a smaller stage, but he gave 110% and the set was both entertaining to see and photograph. I think I got more nice pictures from his set than any other set, despite the small stage and lack of light. This is one of him doing a flip or summersault or something.
He climbed up onto the kick drum and acted like he was conducting an orchestra and it made a good photo.
Then during his song “Wild Boy” and after inviting a slew of girls on-stage and dry humping them, MGK jumped off stage and climbed a tree to perform the rest of the song. It was the only was I could see fit to end FPSF 2013!
Finally I will leave you with a rare photo of me! This is fellow photographer and local badass, Mark C Austin and myself captured moments before the Macklemore set by another awesome local photographer, Julian Bajsel. Thanks Julian!