Austin is widely known as The Live Music Capitol of the World and I definitely would not disagree. Although I live in Houston, didn’t go to school there nor ever lived there, I frequent the city many times throughout the year for different shows and such. I have attended as a fan, performed in my own bands and photographed tons of events over the years. SXSW and ACL are their staples, but since 2006 Transmission Entertainment’s FunFunFunFest has taken off. I have attended and photographed the festival since back in 2009. That year I shot a video of old school hardcore heroes, Gorilla Biscuits, performing “New Direction”.
SXSW is always SXSW, ACL is always geared towards the mainstream pop and indie acts, but where FunFunFun differs is that the festival organizers are all old punk/hardcore kids just like myself. This is why every single year there is a huge reunion from a seminal punk act like The Descendents, or Gorilla Biscuits or this year with Youth of Today. They could have stopped there, but the festival has grown because they provide such a diverse lineup. This year alone I got to experience, De La Soul, Run DMC, David Cross, Converge, Youth of Today, Danny Brown, et al.
Covering festivals is tough though. I always know so many people, so its easy to get in pure hangout mode instead of work mode. Last year I made several Hasselblad portraits that I really liked and only took a handful of photos with the digital kit, this year was the exact opposite. I shot tons of digital images and maybe 1 roll with the Hasselblad (that is being processed as I type). For someone as anal as me about clean lines and backgrounds, shooting a festival can be a real challenge. Even the larger stages with the better lighting can provide tough angles and obstacles to avoid. Untrained photographers will shoot the same images from the “pit” and nothing more. Seasoned photographers look for the best angle. I did my best as always and came up with 78 edited images that reflect my experience at FunFunFunFest 2012.
The images leaned to the hip-hop side, but there was a good mix between the rock (for lack of a better word) and hip hop. One of my favorite moments melded these two worlds, when A$AP Rocky, a recent rap sensation, stage dove into the crowd during his set. He totally caught everyone off-guard including myself and the lighting guys so it was dark, but I kinda liked how the image turned out. Rappers always try and look as hard as they can on stage, but you can clearly see A$AP smiling (or screaming in horror) in the photo. This would never happen at any of his regular shows, but at a festival this is possible. These are the kind of moments I look for at festivals; unique scenes that you might not normally see or that other photographers wont catch.
This year the festival ran over 3 days instead of the usual 2. I definitely felt fatigued during day 3, but when you book that many acts I guess its expected. I definitely look forward to what’s in store for the years to come and definitely look forward to making photos of whomever that is.
I outline a few of my festival highlights and lowlights below, but quite possibly the best highlight ever was seeing my own little sister, backstage, as a proper member of the working media. As a big brother and total music nazi, I tried to instill and indoctrinate my sister with good music for years. She is now a sophomore at the University of Texas and not only writes for several outlets and magazines, but is passionate about music and loves live music just like her brother. She has attended recent music festivals and events as a volunteer, but this event was the first where we were both credentialed media and working. She even had her big girl camera and was taking photos! Haha. She did her own thing and so did I, but we crossed paths, kicked it, and had a blast. I am proud of her. Check her out HERE!
-Seeing one of my favorite bands of all time, Braid, who broke up in 1999, perform TWICE in less than 12 hours.
-Seeing Dave Knudson of Minus the Bear do his crazy tapping riffs TWICE in one day.
-Experiencing Ryan Gosling fever for another year.
-Sitting on-stage about a foot from Converge as they ripped through their set. (also sitting a foot away from La Dispute and about 10 other bands as well)
-Seeing Youth of Today perform. They originally broke up when I was 8 years old. (that was a long time ago!)
-The girl that passes out free ice cream backstage
-Endless supply of Red Bull. (Sorry heart)
-Watching The Promise Ring at sunset.
-Run DMC reunion (obviously) but also DMC performing their hits with a full band on a smaller stage the next day.
-Finding a rad/close parking spot all three days
-Being backstage with Bun B and having Manny Fresh tap me on the shoulder and ask for me to take his photo with his camera. (Yessir!)
-Seeing your sister backstage as a real, live, working member of the media. (tear)
-Sleeping in + Bill Miller to start off day 3.
-Boxed water?! (I don’t like Austin THAT weird)
-No media dining.
-Having to walk really far between stages.
-No place to shoot or watch the Yellow Stage performances for media/photogs.
-Realistic, animated spider graphics on the HUGE screens during Girl Talk. Ew. (see photo)
-De La Soul making photographers wave their hands and put down their cameras.
-Pulling into THE best parking spot on day 1 and realizing you forgot something. (But that was in your bag the whole time)
-Breaking down on the way home.