Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Save the gear!!

That was my theme for the La Fouine show at Club Soda on October 6th. La Fouine is a french rapper of Morrocan origins, who is pretty popular on the other side of the ocean. And judging by the totally packed house, pretty popular here to!

You know the show is going to be packed when you are standing at the press table and the bouncers are outside trying to keep the crowd from getting in 20 minutes before the doors are scheduled to open. One poor kid was squashed up against the glass door. I decided to make my way to the front of the stage. The fun of being the house shooter is you get to go in the venue before the fans, giving you choice spot to shoot from. After my last show where I was up on the second floor, I decided to brave the front of the stage. This means that I have to be there through the opening acts, up front, there with the fans. It's actually pretty fun as you get to chat with some of the fans, learn about the artist, about them. I was about 1/4 way from the left side of the stage, giving me a decent viewing angle for when La Fouine gets on stage. The crowd kept piling in, and by 9:30pm (the show scheduled to start at 9:00pm), the front was packed about 20 deep. And when I say packed, I mean PACKED. Tighter than sardines. You get an idea of how full it was in the last image in the series below.

The crowd was getting wrestless and started pushing. Some people trying to get their latecomer friends in with them. It was a wave going from left to right. All the while, I'm trying to stick to my little spot in front of the stage, but now wondering how the hell I'm going to get out. While from of stage shots are great, I like to get at least 2 different shooting angles when there is no pit. Just getting out of the front of the stage, with my camera gear in tow, was going to be a challenge. But I'll deal with that when the time comes.

Security had to step in to break up a fight. Usually not a good sign of things to come. People kept shoving and I noticed that I was about a foot further away from where I had started. And the opener wasn't even on stage yet. So I decided to make a tactical retreat from the front of the stage before it got too chaotic. It's one thing being up front during a packed house, it's another to be up front with lenses and camera gear when the crowds are getting crazy. I made my way to beside the bar and got up on a stool. At least I'm out of the crowd and have a slightly higher shooting angle. And again, having done my visual research, I noticed that he more often holds the mic in his left hand, making the right side of the stage a better position if I am to be stuck in one place. It is always rolling the dice, but stackign the odds in your favour is a good thing.

Well, that was the idea. Just before La Fouine got on stage, the guy who was chatting with me at the front of the stage was all the way to the side and second in row. Happy to be out of the front area, when the show started, everyone got up on front of me and my once perfect view of the stage now became an exercise in shooting between heads and raised hands.

The guy is insane on stage. He came out with so much energy, I was having troubles freezing motion. In fact, many images came out with slight hand blur. The crowd was nuts, he was nuts. While he was late getting on stage, he definately made up for it with energy and intensity.

Most of the shots below were taken with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS. I did break out the 24-70 f/2.8 to get some wider crowd shots. This is a mandate I get from the venue as they love to post up pictures of the crowd enjoying the artist. Shutter ranged from 1/200 - 1/400. Would of loved to be in the 1/400 when he first got on stage, but the lights were darker for the first song.

Lessons learned? Don't be afraid to back down from your spot if you really feel things are getting out of hand. Know the security guards at the venue. Arrive early to get a good spot. :)

More shows to come!
I have the 4 DJ quarter Birdy Nam Nam coming up next and also doing a Ska Festival in a few days. I'm learning to love variety in music.

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