Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Rock 'n Roll Photo Pass: Demystified

Two feet away from CAKE's John McCrea

One of the perks of being a barely-paid music critic is that I get to go to a lot of shows for free. When I work with a band's publicist on a concert preview, they usually ask if I want to be on "the list" for the show. When people think of the list, they immediately imagine Wayne and Garth hanging out backstage with Alice Cooper.

Alas, nay. (Though I did get to hang out on Streetlight Manifesto's bus once. Coolest. Experience. Ever.)

It just means that I show up at the venue and say to the ticket person or whoever, "I'm on the list." They find my name -  on an actual list - and let me in without paying. While this sounds great, about every fourth time, my name hasn't really made it to the list, which results in no small amount of awkwardness, especially if I've brought a friend with me.

Sometimes I'm also offered a photo pass. If asked in advance, I say I don't need one. The reason is two fold:
  1. I just have a crappy little point-and-shoot camera and I'd feel dumb standing up on the stage taking photos with it. 
  2. I have no idea what such a pass entitles me to. Do I go on stage? Do I poke around in front of the band? Do I hold my pass up (again, a la Wayne's World) and work my way to the front of the crowd?
 So when I'm given a press pass at the door, I just stick it on my shirt (to look cool) and do nothing with it.

At the CAKE show a few weeks back, I was handed a pass. I decided to finally be a man and take some pictures. I bravely walked up to a security guy standing by the stage and said, "Where can I go with this photo pass?"

He looked blankly at me and shrugged his shoulders.

Eventually, another lady come up and said, "You can take pictures at the front of the stage for the first three songs."

So I did. I stood in front of the lounging-on-the-grass crowd at Red Butte garden and pretended like I knew what I was doing. Not looking like an idiot became more difficult once I was standing next to a photographer from SLUG magazine, who did know what he was doing. But I hung in there.

For about 90 seconds.

About halfway through the first song, I had taken a dozen or so pictures, which seemed like more than enough. I went back to seat, successfully having overcome my oh-so-life-threatening fear of photo passes. I am a changed man.

One of my photos is above. The SLUG guy's pics are here. I feel like I held my own.

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