Things start to change!!! Because of the crowded state of the photo pit and the many amateurs and/or semi-professionals shooting there, changes began to appear. The most significant change was the idea that after the first three songs, all photographers had to leave. A few bands started doing that to stem the tide of photographers shooting off flashes in their faces throughout the entire show. That was one reason. The second reason was this: MTV. When MTV came along, everyone looked perfect for their 3 minute video. If someone photographed the entire show, actual sweat would appear on the artists faces (and their hair wouldn’t stay perfect). Never mind that all photographers were now missing the best part of the show! Remember, when a band writes out a set list. This started as a gradual thing, one or two bands tried it, and it soon became the industry norm, resulting in venue security at most venues kicking everyone out after three songs, whether the band wanted it to happen or not.
In the spring of 1994, a Chicago band called Jesus Lizard came over to my house for a photo shoot for the cover of Magnet magazine. After the shoot, with the bonus of free beer, the band and I sat around talking. In the course of the conversation, David Yow, the singer jumped up and said “You are a concert photographer- tell me why every night just at the point that our show is getting really exciting, all the photographers pack up and leave?” I explained what was going on and suggested a solution: The band and their management always have the right to control access to the media. All he had to do was have his road manager meet with the head of venue security before the show and explain that all accredited photographers would be allowed to stay for the whole show! About a month later, the band went out on that years Lallapalooza traveling tour. When the tour hit Chicago, I went to the show. Included with my photo pass was a note that said: “The rules of the tour state that all photographers are allowed to only shoot the first 3 songs of each band. The exception is Jesus Lizard, who has requested that all photographers shoot their entire set.
Final footnote for this week:
When the tour hit New York City, a friend of mine was assigned to photograph for the New York Times. I had told her the Jesus Lizard story, and she arrived early to make sure to shoot their set. During their last song, David dove into the crowd and sang the last song while being carried around the audience on his back. When the Times ran their revue, guess what the lead photo was? Yes, Jesus Lizard.
By the way, Stevie Wonder allows people to photograph the FIRST MINUTE of his show only. I will talk about that next week!