Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tales From the Coachella Photo Pit

I laughed when I realized that the concert photo pit is exactly as much of a waggling cock contest as you'd think it might be. Stereotypes about women being the more artsy of the two genders aside, the space immediately beneath the Coachella concert stage was filled with men — sweaty, fatigued men, some of them not looking the least bit indie. No, for much of the crowd bearing photo pass bracelets on their wrist, snapping shots of the biggest and brightest was just a job — and one they weren't afraid to throw elbows to accomplish. In fact, I took one square in the solar plexus during Bjork's set.

But let's speak of penises for a moment. I never realized what an apt penile metaphor cameras are. Seriously, in the moments before any given artist took the stage — and all the more so if that artist happened to be a headliner — the photogs would strut about, jockeying for position and fiddling with their high-powered lenses. They'd attach them, re-attach them, extend them to their full telescopic length and occasionally glance over at each others' piece, noting the less powerful units among them with a smirk.

I had one of the less powerful units.

Slung around my neck and hanging near my waist thought it was, my simple Costco-bought digital camera couldn't compare with the phallic monstrosities that lunged out from the photo pit. And I knew it. And they knew it. And they used it as an excuse to wedge me further and further back until I was shoulder-to-shoulder with the fourteen-year-old girls who'd snuck past security with no wristband and their flimsy Kodak funsaver.

Even at that, spending my weekend within spitting distance of some of my favorite bands still merited a mention. I'd never felt anything like the sensation of the first thumps of bass shooting through me at point blank range from speakers taller than I was. I didn't care that every cell was rattling in a manor that probably causes cancer or impotence or both. Standing there next to Rolling Stone and Spin was enough, even with my comparatively dinky point-and-shoot.

I'm extremely pleased to present the below photo slideshow, a collection of 344 pieces of evidence that prove I was there and saw it all better than the people who waited hours to squeeze to the front of the crowd.

(it may take a few moments to load. please be patient.)

A few notes, however.

The artists depicted are the following, in order:
  • Rufus Wainwright
  • Interpol
  • Bjork
  • Regina Spektor
  • The New Pornographers (tragically missing Neko Case)
  • Peter, Bjorn and John (who I just realized abbreviate to "PB&J")
  • The Decemberists
  • The Arcade Fire
  • Mika
  • Explosions in the Sky
  • The Kaiser Chiefs
  • Willie Nelson
  • Lily Allen
  • Damien Rice
  • Rage Against the Machine
Also: (1) Insane traffic on Friday led Sarah and I to arrive too late to see Of Montreal, Tilly and the Wall and Amy Winehouse, hence the lack of photos. Apologies and blame all around. (2) Please note that Rufus Wainwright performed his songs pants-free. (3) Certain fringe pop prima donnas — ahem, Miss Guðmundsdóttir? — decided not to allow flash photography during their sets. That's why the photos look like my camera was on an LCD trip. (4) Please note that Mika decided to perform his songs with the stupidest pants ever. In retrospect, he should have followed Rufus's example. (5) Lily Allen's set turned me from someone with only a superficial knowledge of her into a true fan. She really did a phenomenal job. I want to take her away, mash her into a frosting bag and use her to decorate sugar cookies. That's how much I like her now. (6) The thrashing crowd during Rage's set and my camera batteries' collective decision to give up on life account for the rather sparse documentation of the final performance. Again, apologies and blame. And (7) Sarah was hit on by a robot. The pictures show this, to a degree. (8) Pictures of Sarah also give evidence to the final known moments of my lame Coachella hat. (9) I'm still trying to determine if the little redhead seen after the Regina Spektor set is Lindsay Lohan or not. Thoughts? (10) People sure do make funny faces when they sing.


  1. OMG your photos are lovely! I want to get some of those acid trip bjork pics blown up and framed! .. Was so lovely to see you! Sarah is delightful. I felt heatstroked and brain dead so sorry if I was terrible company. Also, I'm pretty certain that is not, in fact, Neko Case on stage with the Pornographers. Hope to see you again soon! xo

  2. 1) I have hella RAM yet it fails me. trying again later

    2) It's more fun when you call it your "pass pass."

  3. I heard Coachella was awesome buddy, and I hear you're doing quite well at the Indy. Glad to hear it my friend...hope all is well. Also, the pictures are awesome!

  4. Anonymous11:23 PM

    hi, i was just wondering how you were able to get a pass. i'm not involved in the press, but i do love taking photos. i've been going to coachella for a few years now, and alas i've still no idea how to get a pass.

    if you want to let me know, my email is danke