SXSW 2013: Day Four

I luckily didn’t have to wake up until 11 a.m. or so today, which was a relief. I had been patiently waiting for Saturday for one reason, Rachel Ray‘s Feedback showcase. Although she had daytime showcases running all week, Saturday is always the closing show and Rachel herself even comes out to enjoy the music and food. One of the artists she had performing that day at the legendary Stubb’s BBQ was the rising hip-hop artist Macklemore and his partner in crime Ryan Lewis. I had been meaning to cover the duo all week, but I either had another obligation during that specific time or the venue was at capacity and couldn’t get in. Either way, I made sure I went extremely early to Stubb’s in order to get in and get a spot if their was no photo pit.

When I arrived at Stubb’s, the wristband lineup alone had to have been 3 blocks long at least. Although I had a media pass attached to my camera, I still only had the music wristband like everyone else in line and some venues didn’t care if you were media or not. I walked up to the first person I saw in a Stubb’s shirt and asked them politely if there is any chance that I could get in before the rest of the wristband holders because this was my last chance to cover Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as the festival ended today. The gentlemen I started talking too happened to be the owner of Stubb’s and I told him all about myself, who I was working for and why I needed to shoot them this badly. He told me that he would let me in to photograph them and by-pass the line under one condition, that once I got back to Canada, I would promote Stubb’s BBQ and mention how it was a good party to be at. Due to the fact that Macklemore went on in less than 20 minutes, I had no choice but to agree with him and he gladly let me in early. It just goes to show that when you are at concerts or festivals, simply talking to people working there and being extremely polite can really go a long way. If I would have been silent about it and went to the back of the line, I most likely would have missed out on Macklemore. I made it into the photo pit up front with about 5 minutes to spare and patiently waited for the set to begin. Macklemore was one artist that I promised myself before SXSW that I needed to cover no matter what, so I can’t express how much I appreciate the owner of Stubb’s for being such a genuine person by letting me in and making that promise a reality.

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis put on an incredible show and it was hands down the best show I covered the entire week. They were a lot of fun to photograph and I left feeling like I couldn’t do anything but go back to the hotel and look at these. I grabbed a quick hot dog and made my way back to the room to upload all the images I had taken at Stubb’s. I spent some time going through them and picking out which ones I thought were good and edited a few before heading to Fader Fort to photograph Earl Sweatshirt. Below is a photo I took of my new friend Kwasi while I was editing some of the Macklemore shots. Kwasi came down with us to help with content and also take some photos for us.

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Kwasi

I had photographed Odd Future once before in Toronto at Sound Academy and Earl was there, but I was interested to see what his solo set would be like. The first thing Earl said when he came on stage and saw the completely packed Fader Fort was “This is by far the biggest show I’ve done on my own” and he most likely wasn’t fibbing as it took me over 20 minutes just to make my way through the crowd. Overall, Earl had a great set and it was a lot of fun to photograph.

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Earl Sweatshirt

After Earl’s set, I made my way back to the hotel and ordered some food. The next set of artists I had to photograph that day were at VICELAND and this was going to be the last show I did for the week, so I wanted to make sure I got there nice and early. The first artist up was Trinidad James and even though I had already photographed him already once this week, it was awesome to get some different photos of him in a different environment.

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Trinidad James

After Trinidad was finished, trap producer Baauer took the stage and had an incredible set. He mixed in some of his own songs along with some remixes of Waka Flocka Flame and other hip-hop/rap artists. He was standing fairly high up and far back from the front of the stage, so I threw on my 80-200mm lens and got some pics from the back of the crowd and also some wide angle shots.

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Although I was supposed to shoot Kendrick Lamar right after Baauer was done, some lady in the crowd ran into me and spilt her whiskey sour all over my camera and lens. I didn’t want it to dry up and make my camera sticky forever, so I went to bathroom to clean it up a bit (or try too). What I wasn’t aware of is that once you left the warehouse part to go to the washroom, you had to wait in a line in order to get back inside. I took one look at the line and knew I wouldn’t be getting back in, so I had a drink or two and just listened to kendrick’s set from outside and met some new people. I had already photographed Kendrick once so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it still would have been awesome.

This week was definitely one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I will never forget it. Although at times it was stressful and hectic, I wouldn’t have it any other way. In reality, it’s surreal to take in how one person alone could photograph almost 40 different artists that are all well established within 4 days. I am proud of the work I got accomplishes at SXSW and I really hope to make it back again next year. Thank you for reading my write-ups and expect more in the near future.

– Joel

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