I liken taking photos at an EDM show a lot to that sniper scene in Enemy at the Gates, you know the one where Jude Law is behind the fountain wall doming Nazi’s as he times his shots with the sounds of artillery to avoid drawing attention to his shots. However, he is still in danger, as one of the more alert enemy soldiers notices that someone is picking them off from that direction. It may sound a bit ridiculous, but I think it’s a pretty apt analogy, and boy did I feel it in the pit at Flux Pavilion on Saturday Night.
Think about it, I’ve got my lifeblood in my hands, my baby, my Sony A7. I’m trying to take photos of an incredibly difficult target, an EDM artist on a raised platform, with flickering lights that completely wash out or completely darken a frame if the shot is not timed exactly right. I can’t hear anything except the music in front of me, the subwoofers rattle everything around me, so much that my ears itch from the earplugs being shifted by the bass. Timing is everything, with no flash allowed in the pit, I’m reliant on timing and familiarity with the music to synchronize my shots with beat drops and strobes. And, of course, there’s the danger element, not to me personally, but to the camera. Water being thrown at the stage, people reaching over the barricade, the camera being knocked out of my hands. Or, in the case of this show, entire Gatorade coolers full of water being launched out into the crowd. There’s also venturing out into the crowd, which is all of that times ten, and perpetually looking like the “In The Way Guy” Meme.
But guess what?
I love it.
It’s my favorite kind of show to shoot. The chaos, the passion, the ridiculous characters you’re bound to meet, the new friends you make and, of course, the show itself. TC Presents & Snowta Fest were putting on an all-night EDM party at Myth on Saturday Night, headlined by Flux Pavilion.
If you’re not familiar with Flux Pavilion, listen to THIS. This is “Gold Dust” by DJ Fresh – remixed by Flux Pavilion. It made its debut back in 2010. In the circles I ran with during my freshman year at Wisconsin, it was everywhere. Friday night dorm room pre-game. Check. Dirty frat house basement. Check. That sketchy dance club on the main drag. Check. This is the dubstep song that even most of the dubstep shunners will agree is pretty great. If you’re still not a fan, please step into my office; we’ll be reevaluating our friendship.
Fashionably late, I waltzed into the Myth during the set of Skism and it was pure escalation from there. My first entrance into the pit was marked by headbanging, and I’m not talking a little nod, I’m talking holding on to the barricade and whipping your head back and forth to the point where it was rocking back and forth to the rhythm.
Eventually, AFK and Svdden Death took the stage and I could only describe the set as the angriest I have ever seen. Svdden Death often left the elaborate DJ stand to yell at the crowd for not being hyped up enough. Not just a “hey you, let’s get hyphy” yell, but a Full Metal Jacket style expletive-filled tirade to get the crowd hyped. To be fair, it totally worked. I felt like the barrier was going to break after some of the pushing and pulling on the barrier after some of the drops of the beat.
Then Flux Pavilion took the stage. He, overall, was less involved when it came to going all gunnery sergeant on the crowd. He was more apt to let the light work and massive beat drops be his hype man. He played music all across his discography, including “I Can’t Stop” & “Cracks.” The set itself was a giant’s staircase of lights that spit out patterns and blasts of light that illuminated the entire crowd. On top of that, there was a very generous use of the Myth’s built-in strobes. Almost every song had strobes that lit up the entire venue to full brightness. They kind of acted like an informal flash for me. Like I said before, the timing was everything. The crowd stayed electric the entire set and when “Gold Dust” finally made its appearance at the very end of the set, the crowd truly went entirely wild. An encore was demanded, but it never came with the 2:00 am curfew set by the city.
Like I said earlier, I love shooting EDM shows, they’re a challenge but also some of the most rewarding photographic experiences you can get. Flux Pavilion, Svdden Death, AFK & Skism were probably the most intense show I’ve photographed, but that made it even more fun. Can’t wait for my next experience.