A few months ago I covered a Discworld Fan Club convention at Zandvoort for a British journalist, who shortly thereafter asked me if I’d be up for covering a Monster Magnet gig in August.
Sure, said I, and quickly hit Wikipedia to see who they were.
Having never done concert photography before, I was well-prepared. I’ve been to a fair few gigs in my life but more importantly, as the son of a rocker, I grew up with the logistics of rock ‘n roll, the roles and attitudes of the people involved.
I also know just how quickly a band can transmogrify from a polished stage presence to a sweating, roaring swamp-monster; the First Three Songs rule of concert photography is a very, very sensible one.
Alan, the journalist, wanted to get some portraits of the fans before the show, and as expected it took very little effort to get them to rock out for the camera. I was impressed with his calm manner, introducing himself to groups of rad-looking tattoo-sporting ruffians; I really must practice that myself.
Time for the show. There was no press barricade, no photo pit, but the venue manager had assured me that the Patronaat attracted warm, loving crowds. As we muscled our way to the stage we met a fair few people we’d photographed outside who very generously let me slip in front to get the shots I needed, while Alan stood by to help with lens changes.
Thank god for earplugs. I am way, way too out of practice for this kind of volume — and even if it weren’t for the amps, I’d still be in spitting distance of Dave Wyndorf roaring at the top of his lungs. The man’s a formidable presence.
Oh yes, did I mention the backstage pass stuck on my chest?
We’d done a bit of scouting around the loading dock prior to the show, cooing at the plush, gleaming tour bus, and after the show we made our way backstage while the band were finishing their encore. Alan was committed to getting us access to the dressing-room to hang with the band, displaying his supernatural sense of timing. The band came back and we congratulated them on an excellent show (which it was), he waited for the pizza to be delivered and then headed in to get an invite. How he managed it, I have no clue, and he wouldn’t divulge this Ancient Chinese Secret.
As agreed with the band, the notebook and camera were put away while the beers were cracked open. They turned out to be from New Jersey, which I’d once visited, and they readily agreed with my assessment that it “smells weird”, but I was on Cinderella schedule and had to excuse myself quickly so make my midnight train home. Work in the morning, and all that.