Summer Fun: Eyeball Update, McCarren Park Pool Party w/ the Ting Tings & Alligator Lounge Love
Normally I was always working or caught up in some personal drama that required me to stay away from large crowds. This summer has been different though, mostly because of a change in attitude.
My recent personal growth is a subject that I will elaborate on in a future post (possibly with a hilarious PowerPoint presentation), but for now, about today’s shoot…
The Eyeball Connection
As most of you are already aware, up until today I was suffering from a gross eye infection. The short version of the story is that I ran out of contacts, could not get my prescription filled in a timely manner and walked around for a week with only one contact. This was stupid and I messed up my eye, as you can see in this gross photo from Thursday evening on your right.
All day Friday and Saturday I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to shoot properly on Sunday with my effed up ‘ball but luckily all of my eye medicine did the trick and the major worry of my weekend was eradicated by late last night.
…So you know, my work peeps Sarah and Megan will be putting up videos and stories tomorrow on MTVNews.com. If you missed today’s show, drop by then and check out what we put together.
This post from The Lair is specifically about my own personal experience at the event. Gross eyeball and all.
Getting There Is Half The Battle
I arrived at McCarren Park at 1:30pm and met up with Sarah (producer for our pool party coverage) and Megan (my lovely PA, band mate and pal). We approached press check in and received our all-access credentials from a bored looking fellow with cool hair.
First on my personal to-do list was to meet the technician in the sound booth and test my wireless adapter, in the hopes of getting a decent board feed. If you are thinking “WTF?”, all that means is that I wanted to have clear audio from all the artists’ instruments and mics sent directly to my camera’s audio input on its own channel, so that I could have one channel that picked up everything under the sun (screaming crowd, barking, etc.) and then one clean channel with pure musical goodness.
Even though the technician and I did everything right to set this up, it didn’t work.
Meah. It happens.
You deal with it and make sure that at least your shotgun mic (the big mic with the giant furry looking thing on it) isn’t doing retarded things like getting in your shot.
I let Sarah know what we were dealing with, audio-wise, and so she then sent Megan and I off to get b-roll of the teaming masses of people lining up to get into the pool and to hopefully get some interviews as well. Sarah would coordinate with her press contacts and brief John Norris, our correspondent for the day, on the schedule.
On the last two shoots that I have been on, I have played both shooter and producer. It was really nice to only have to worry about shooting today, and even that has it’s own unique difficulties.
One thing that usually happens in large crowds when you walk around with the MTV News logo plastered on your camera and on your stick mic is that people inevitably scream “MTV Sucks!!” at you.
When a guy does this, I have learned to ask them for an interview. Usually they are surprised you even approached them after such a manly display, and even if they aren’t willing to be interviewed they will simmer down and be nice. When a girl does this (which is rare) I have learned that they mean it and to approach them is simply asking for further mean mugging. I just take it in stride and move on.
I understand why the kids scream this, I mean, duh. But it doesn’t mean I take it personally. There are a bunch of other things on my mind like are my audio levels ok? or is that rain on my lense? and always did I remember to put an extra battery in my bag?.
However, I would like to counter that Joe “Flat Iron Bangs” Schmo probably wouldn’t like it if I showed up at the hedge fund he secretly works at (but hides from his hipster friends) and screamed in his face “making money means you suck!”, but ya know, that’s life.
Anyway, enough about haters.
Today, Megan and I witnessed first hand how popular the pool party events are. The line was ridiculous.
We spoke to people who had been waiting there since 8AM that morning and were nowhere close to being near the entrance. Some people even offered to buy my press credential off of me. I thought about it, then said no.
Everyone, for the most part, was super hyped to see MGMT and the Ting Tings. We got a few people on camera to say that, shot some more “people standing in line” footage and then got the hell out of there.
We ran back to the press area near the stage and met up with Sarah and Lisa (lady to your left), our production coordinator for the day. Lisa made sure all of our interviewees signed guest releases, helped me manage the contents of my camera bag, reminded me to stay hydrated and was an all around positive presence. Thanks, Lisa!
While waiting for our interview with the Ting Tings (conducted by John Norris), I shot more b-roll around the pool and took a few personal photos with my own camera.
I envied (for a second) the people using the Slip ‘n Slide.
The sky was turning murky gray but it hadn’t started to rain yet, so I held off on getting the rain sleeve that you use to keep the camera dry. Not only is it awkward to shoot through, but it looks like a stupid little jacket for a Chihuaha.
There were already enough people walking around with their small dogs (why?) and I didn’t want it to appear like I was pointing some toy rat at the Ting Tings.
I ended up needing to use the rain sleeve through the Ting Tings interview and the rest of the shoot. I avoided the shotgun mic/shot blocking issue by holding it down by the attached xlr cable the entire time while shooting, which by the end of the day made my thumb feel like a swollen bunch of wasp stings but at least my shots were all shotgun-free.
I will never get over the feeling that I experience from shooting a band up close, from the stage. The energy from the band and the audience is so present that you feel like you are swimming in the crossfire. It is intoxicating.
If I am not careful, I feel like I want to sway a little and then take a nap. I used to imagine it would feel electrifying, and it does, but it also feels like being a fetus while you zone out in a place where nothing can (theoretically) touch you. That may sound weird but it’s my own description, and you can take it or leave it.
There is all this energy going on in the crowd, a building frenzy that feeds the band. And there I am, in the eye of the storm between these two forces, documenting it as best I can. It’s a truly inspiring position to be in and I don’t take it for granted.
I have been shooting at shows since I was nineteen, and each time still feels like the first time – unlike anything I have ever felt before.
Wrap = Pizza Time
After a full day of running around and building up “the gun show”, Lisa and I headed to one of my “new” favorite places – the Alligator Lounge. It’s new to me because (until very recently) I usually never go anywhere. But this has quickly become my perfect place to unwind for a bit after a long day’s work. If you buy a drink, you get AN ENTIRE PERSONAL PIZZA FOR FREE. Yes, I just typed that. That just happened.
I am home now and will spend the rest of my weekend cleaning my apartment. Gross, but necessary.
…If you like the little sparkly/tangerine shrug thingy I am wearing in this picture, I have to share props with The Barnes who clued me into this huge Salvation Army on Quincy Street in Brooklyn. I think I spent like two dollars on this. I also bought several first edition hardbacks for A DOLLAR. Jealous?
You have to go up two long flights of stairs (weird stairs that make you think David Bowie is around the corner in tight pants) but once you get up there it’s totally worth it. It’s like the Wonka Factory of Sally Army’s. They have a huge selection of clothes and books as well as some decent furniture. Just take the G to Classon and it’s on Quincy between Classon Ave & Downing Street.