Instead of showcasing a bunch of my favourite photos from the year, I decided to write up a blog post on one of my favourite shows. It is extremely hard to single out one band’s set, but this to me was a no brainer. As some of you may know, I had the privilege of traveling on the Vans Warped Tour for the second time this past summer working for Epitaph Records. I got to work closely with seven awesome bands who all brought something unique to the tour, so it was a great variety and kept the days interesting. The band I am going to focus on in this write up needs no introduction, but I will discuss why they are an important band not only to me, but to a lot of people.
Every Time I Die have a been a band that I have truly loved ever since first photographing them back in 2011 while they were on tour with The Chariot. They played a 250 cap venue called Call The Office in London, Ontario and I believe it was sold out. During ETID’s set, a stage diver kicked the flash unit right off the top of my camera. About 80% of my time was spent making sure I didn’t get kicked in the head and the other 20% was spent shooting. It was absolute mayhem, and I was hooked.
During the Vans Warped Tour, some of the shows for most bands can contrast one another due to how similar the set up is each day. Although, whenever a band plays their hometown or close enough to it, those sets tend to get crazy. I had been looking forward to the Buffalo date since the beginning of the tour because that is where Every Time I Die is from. The show took place just outside of the Darien Lakes Amusement Park (which may not be exactly Buffalo, but close enough).
The day began sunny and stayed that way until about 11 a.m. After that, the heavy rain started and pretty well went to about 5 p.m. or so, causing pretty well the entire Warped Tour grounds to be covered in mud. Everywhere you looked, it was probably wet and muddy. ETID’s set was around 6 p.m, and all I remember is thinking to myself, “This set is going to be absolutely insane.” Days when it is raining on Warped Tour are my favourite because you get unique, captivating images of bands in a scenario that can only be found at an outdoor festival.
I got to the stage roughly 20 minutes early and of course the entire crowd area was completely covered with mud. Sometimes I would shoot from on stage, but because the band had tons of family and friends at the show, I decided to just shoot the first three songs from the barricade and then go into the crowd after. It was now sunny and the rain was long gone, but the festival grounds were muddier than ever.
Once the band finished their third song, I left the barricade area with the rest of the photographers and headed straight for the crowd. By the time I got out there, the mud-throwing was in full force. Armed with my camera and Wonder Years rain jacket, I braved the mud and got right in the action. At first the security tried to stop people from throwing mud, but how do 8 security guards stop hundreds of pissed off teenagers from doing something? You can’t.. So they eventually just stopped trying and let it happen.
For this set, I tried to focus my attention on the crowd and what the fans were doing. How often do you get to photograph crazy fans throwing mud at each other? I knew going in that I’m probably going to get really muddy, but that didn’t matter. It felt like I was at Woodstock 1994 during Green Day’s legendary set (if you haven’t seen this, youtube it immediately!). I like to think that capturing real, unforced emotion is what I love doing most. Whether it’s a band on a big stage or some random person rolling around in mud, documenting all of these things matter a lot to me. Sure I could have put my camera down and watched and not risk my gear getting trashed, but taking photographs like the ones you will see below is a great example of doing whatever it takes to try and take the best possible photograph I can.
When I got back to the bus after the set, my friend and incredible photographer, Matt Vogel, took a photo of me before I cleaned off. I ruined my shorts and hat and it took me over an hour to clean my camera, but it was worth it. I couldn’t be happier with how my photos turned out and I’m proud to say that I didn’t let a little bit of mud get in the way of me photographing one of my favourite live sets to date. Later that night, Every Time I Die were in charge of the after party BBQ. Keith and Jordan’s father made his famous wings for the entire tour and they were incredible. It was just a great way to cap off another great day on the Warped Tour.
Cheers, 2014! Let’s see if 2015 can top you.