Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I had expected to spend multiple days at Summerfest. In reality I wanted to go the full ten days but life throws little obstacles at you and sometimes what you want to do and what you can actually do end up being two separate things. However, that didn't stop me in the least to getting there and making the best and most of my time!
We left fairly early that Thursday afternoon wanting to beat the traffic and get as much time in at the festival as we could. My little brother joined me. He's so sweet chaperoning me yet again on one of my little photographing escapades. Really, he is quite patient to put up with my crap and I love him for that! I'm not sure what I would do without him? Perhaps be lonely on my escapades... Well on this day I was not lonely nor did we hit any dreaded traffic. We made good time and with my accidental left-hand turn, ended up at the festival without ever coming to a stop. We reached the parking lot with the greatest of ease and parked. For some reason I doubt this was the case for the other entrances but somehow that one wrong turn ended up being a right turn and got me to the Marcus Amphitheater parking lot which on this day was open to the public. Can't argue with that, right?
So we walked into the grounds and started our adventure. For the first hour or so we walked around in circles; me following my brother and my brother following me. It wasn't until my brother asked where we were going that we realized that we were walking around in circles following each other because neither of us had yet acquired a destination. All was not lost! We were now well acquainted with the locations of everything within the festival, so we head over to a side stage where a live reggae band was playing. My brother had suggested going here, and I had no complaints as the atmosphere and music was stunning!
We eventually left the reggae band in an intermittent break to go to the dj stage. When we got there, it was packed with dancers! The dj was rockin' the ones and twos and really throwing down. Being so early in the day, I was surprised at the amount of people dancing! We hung around for awhile until they had another break in music. My brother and I decided it was a good time to go for a little walk, so we walked around for awhile then returned back to the dj stage as Projekt Milwaukee was set to go on. Milwaukee Projekt did well representing the EDM scene of Milwaukee as they always do.
My brother and I ran into Mr. VIP who jokingly stated he would be closing off the left side of the stage for his friends, and that he felt bad that he would have to make everyone move. I laughed back wondering his sincerity in this little project. Bewildered I watched as he flagged down the stage manager as my phone rang. It was my friend from up in the promotional department of Summerfest, and lucky for me she had good news! I had been approved to photograph Paramore and No Doubt. I had to be over by the Amp within the hour to be escorted to the photo pit. I returned to where Sir Fice was playing and took as many pictures as I could of him before taking off running to the Amp. I made it with time to spare even!
We filed one after another into the photo pit of the Marcus Amphitheater. My stage fright was starting to set in. I knew I didn't have to perform or anything but the mere fact that I was standing in front of hundreds of people was making me a bit anxious like I might meet my doom. I'm sure you've had the feeling... You know like when you walk to the front of the class about to give a long winded speech. Yes! Something similar to that but replace the classroom with hundreds of people!
While I stood there waiting for Paramore, my mind started to be at ease as I remember I wasn't the one about to perform. I started to wonder what I should expect. I had never heard any of Paramore's music before, and although a huge fan of No Doubt I wasn't quite sure I would enjoy this new band. Even though I had heard good things about the band, I had no idea what to expect. I felt a little naive in that sense.
The 19 year old lead singer, Hayley Williams, ran out on the stage jumping around with her bright reddish orange hair flying at every angle. I was surprised by her powerful presence. She took over the stage and immediately got the crowds intertwined into her performance.
The remainder of their performance was great! They had awesome energy throughout and the music was actually quite to my taste. My favorite part of their show was when Hayley Williams pointed to the center of the stage where Jeremy Davis (bass guitar) flipped over Taylor York (lead guitar). It was one of the coolest things I have quite possibly ever seen! Unfortunately, my camera missed all the action.
The lights went out. The room turned completely black. I felt the sheet dropped right onto my feet. In between the crowds' screams, I could hear the commotion somewhere in the darkness that engulfed me. Then the lights went on and there they stood; larger than life black silhouettes on the white sheet. No Doubt had no doubt entered the building!
As the stage hands put the large sheet into containers at the front of the stage, Gwen Stefani (vocals), Adrian Young (drums), Tony Kanal (bass), Tom Dumont (guitarist), Stephen Bradley (horns & keyboard), and Gabrial McNair (horns & keyboard) ran across the stage to their positions. They didn't waste any time jumping into their hits and brought it back to the 90s. Having grown up listening to songs like Don't Speak and Spiderwebs repeatedly over my walkman, it was a very surreal experience for me. Three songs were what we were allowed to photograph and for three songs I just continued to snap shots one after another.
My favorite part of the performance was when Gwen slowly skanked her way across the stage posing for brief seconds on every beat. She and the rest of the band were all over the place dancing and jumping and skanking. They really put on a show, and Gwen, she hasn't aged one bit. She is just as gorgeous as she was years ago when I saw her for the first time with the release of her Tragic Kingdom album. It is good to see No Doubt back on the circuit!
After filing out of the No Doubt pit, I took off running to the Whitesnake stage to photograph them. Little did I know the troubles I was about to endure with getting beyond the security point. The agent I was working with had emailed me after I had left earlier that day telling me to ask for the tour manager. Unfortunately I did not know this until days later. I stood at the gate trying to convince the security guard that I in fact had permissions from Whitesnake to photograph them. After a few songs they finally found the tour manager and allowed me in. I was a little perturbed at first but quickly put that behind me when I saw the legendary David Coverdale standing in front of me. Whitesnake was awesome! Over the years, they have not lost their ability to perform. They were dancing around moving the crowd and getting down. Guitarist Doug Aldrich flirted with my camera and it was quite alright. I didn't mind and I don't think my camera minded it either.
Next I made my way back to the dj stage where Richie Hawtin was playing. It was time to meet up with my people and chill-ax for the night. As I walked thru the crowd to find the "left speaker posse" I noticed many different people dancing and having a good time. Many familiar faces were surrounding me and although I would have loved to sit and chat, I was on a mission. I made a couple stops to take some quick shots. Caught Lucky in the act of being... well... Lucky? Then I was directed by a couple of guys to take a pic of some girl's butt crack as she made out with some dude. (Get a room guys!) Then it was back on my mission.... left speaker posse... because it is all about the LSP! Not to be confused with the RSP! Finally I reached my spot and made myself at home. I spent the remainder of the night bobbing my head to techno taking few pictures but enjoying myself nonetheless. And who would have thought, Mr. VIP was part of the LSP! Imagine that! It's a small world, eh?
So ends my fun filled time at Summerfest. I was very sad to see my short time there come to an end, but there is always next year!
For more pics check: www.myspace.com/lil_Jean (Now posted!)
Monday, July 6, 2009
It's no wonder James Otto can claim the Most Played at Country Radio and Billboard's no. 1 Hot Country Song of 2008 with his album's first single, "Just Got Started Lovin' You." His super upbeat style is sure to get any crowds booty shaking!
Along with his energetic band, James Otto got everyone from the front row to the very back row of the audience out of their seats! Being that it was day five and the final day of the festival I was quite surprised at this venture, but who can resist a good beat and catchy lyrics. The crowd loved him! I even found myself falling in love with his beats as my hips swayed back and forth as I walked through the crowds. I guess this means will add James Otto to my list of hot new artists. He has made a lasting first impression on the country industry, and I think we will be hearing of him in the years to come!
And for the record.... James Otto's song "Drink & Dial" is one that should be played at the end of every night:
"You know friends don't let their friends drink and dial."
Lady Antebellum was my most anticipated act of the entire weekend. I had never heard any of their music but from the get go there was something about this group that grabbed my attention. It could have been their catchy name, Lady Antebellum, or the raving reviews of their music. I went into this performance blindly, not knowing what to expect, but expecting great things all the same. They did not let me down.
There was a lot of energy behind the performance and the music wasn't all that bad either. Charles Kelley, the male lead singer, was running all over the stage dancing and making a spectacle for the crowds. He had an intense amount of vigor. Hillary Scott, although quiet and not as outgoing as her male counterpart, was still able to bring a little something to the show. She was very sweet and lovable on top of her voice being quite simply breathtaking. You can tell that this was where she was meant to be and that country music flows through her veins.
The only complaint I have is that I would have liked to see more of a stage presence from Hillary Scott. At times she acted as though she felt a little uncomfortable on stage, but at the same time that charisma may have been what made me fall in love with her all the same. This group knows what they want and knows how to get it!
Prior commitments left me missing Gretchen Wilson's entire performance; however, I was able to catch her in the Y100 tent before leaving the grounds. She was a very sweet and down to Earth lady. Seeing her interview was a nice way to end the festival. I already can't wait until next year!
For more pictures check http://www.myspace.com/lil_Jean (now posted!)
Next stop.... Summerfest!
Saturday, July 4, 2009
First and foremost, what a diversified group of people at Country USA! You have everyone from the stereotypical redneck in a cowboy hat and cowboy shoes to the jock jamming, booty dancing club people representing at this 5 day festival. There were so many different people with so many different styles and personalities. It is amazing that they are all in one place. Not to mention people of all ages!
On this day, day four of Country USA, I made my way around the grounds of the festival. I finally got to see the carnival with its Ferris wheel and scrambler rides. I walked around all the impossible carnival games as the roadies tried to convince me to give them their money. I shopped a little and picked out a few souvenirs for myself and my family. I even took one for the team and rode a mechanical bull! This was the first time all week that I arrived early enough to enjoy all these amenities, and boy was I missing out. There really is something for everyone here!After looking around the mini carnival and shops, I made my way to the campgrounds. Here I finally realized I had been in the wrong part of the festival all week! I had been missing out on the real party as the real party was in the campgrounds! People were dancing on top of buses and trucks and anything that they could make a stage out of. Everyone was stumbling around as if it were bar time not 4:00 in the afternoon.
Hey! It's 5:00 somewhere, right?
My favorite site was Margaritaville. They had all kinds of games set up. The decorations were very fitting and of course, the pirate flag. Everyone in Margaritaville was having fun and who could blame them! They were at the biggest party in the Fox Cities! I now know next year where to be and where you should be too!
"Wastin away again in Margaritaville!"