Photos: Futurebirds and Grace Potter @ The Cox Capitol Theatre

The Bonnaroo Buzz tour show at the Cox Capitol Theater turned out to be an historic show for the venue, being the first show that has sold all 550 tickets the theater can offer. A sold out venue and a headlining band almost always leads to trouble getting access to the artists and this was no exception. We were told we’d have stage access, and then we were told we’d definitely probably have stage access, and then we got to the show and we were told that only one photographer was getting stage access and that wasn’t me. It’s infuriating, but it’s also a pretty common situation when trying to get access to musicians and public figures.

Two thirds of getting a good photo is about getting close to what you need to shoot. When you’re shooting musicians or performances, this usually means that you need to convince the show manager that your skills and the publicity you offer are worth losing money on a ticket or giving you access to the artists, which is where smooth talking dudes like Sean Pritchard come in. We did end up getting ten minutes of stage time while the Futurebirds were playing after Sean convinced their manager to let us back. And I did bump into Grace Potter, literally, as she came barreling backstage while I was leaving. She went right and I went right and then she went around me and I went “s-s-sorry” and she smiled at me and kept going. And I did get some great shots of the Futurebirds, but mostly from the floor, which brings me back to getting close.

From there I made my way back into the crowd, now filling the floor in front of the stage. The crowd can also be a determining factor in getting good shots. If the crowd is too young, or too rowdy, or not rowdy enough, or just doesn’t know how to behave at the show, musicians will have trouble getting into a good groove while they’re playing, which leads to stiff, uncomfortable musicians glowering at your lens and wondering why the hell they agreed to do the gig. You also get people stumbling in front of your shots and grumbling about you being in *their* way. Hmph.

This crowd at the Capitol was the polar opposite of the what I consider to be a “bad crowd.” These people were excited to be there, and they were incredibly respectful of my space while I was shooting. Those in attendance ranged from teenage to baby boomer and were mostly veteran concert goers. When Grace Potter appeared onstage, they went wild. She played a high energy show that lasted for nearly two hours and reportedly joined the locals at the Hummingbird after she finished. As I made my way home after the show, my ears were still ringing with her voice, “I’ve got the medicine that everybody wants.”

Yeah she does.

-John Cantwell, June 16, 2011