There is a lot of buzz on the internet right now about how Left Brain from Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All attacked a female photographer during their show at Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans on Sunday. I was there in the photo pit and I happened to be standing right next to the woman who supposedly got slapped in the face. Her story is bullshit.
Odd Future has a reputation for fucking up photographers. At SXSW they ran across the photo pit stepping on the heads and cameras of many a photo blogger. I have never seen them but I was well aware of their reputation. When I got to the photo pit at Voodoo I was pretty excited about the madness that would be happening. After Tyler the Creator told all the photographers that he fucking hated them for taking up space that should belong to fans I got excited. I was ready to see what kinda violence Odd Future was willing to dish out. I wanted to know if their shows were as wild as I had heard.
Two minutes later Hodgy Beats took a bottle of water and swung it at me covering my camera and I with water. Photographers on either side of me got a litte bit wet and a lot of people backed the fuck up. Personally I just wiped the water of my camera and face and started shooting again. When I wasn’t taking a shot I was just smiling like a crazy person at them ready for whatever the fuck was next.
What happened next was what made news. Left Brain came out to the front of the stage and swatted at the cameras below him. He slapped the guy to the left of me. It was pretty hard and kinda fucked up but I didn’t expect anything less. Rock and roll should be dangerous and Odd Future is doing that right. Moments later Left Brain slapped another camera, this time it was a camera belonging to a woman. She almost dropped it but caught the strap and was perfectly fine just clearly shaken by the experience. He then came towards me but I think he probably saw that I was looking at him like a crazy person and decided to kick over the video tripod that Voodoo had set up. There was not a camera on it.
The the reason Left Brain targeted the photographers he did was because they were in slapping distance and nothing else. This woman is claiming that he slapped her across the face and targeted her because she is a woman. That is complete bullshit. She got targeted because she decided to shoot a crazy fucking band and was not ready to deal with that. Any serious pro photographer has all their gear insured and while getting your shit broken is not ideal, when you are shooting dangerous subjects it is a risk you have to take.
Personally I live to get the shot that no one else has. I am the guy who takes his camera in the mosh pit to get the shot. At a festival like Voodoo every photographer takes the same fucking photos because we are all in the same pit for the same three songs with the same lighting. It’s so fucking pointless. At Lollapalooza I was the only photographer that had up close shots of Crystal Castles because I shoved my way to the front of the mosh pit and got the shot. Having a band like Odd Future trying to fuck up photographers will scare people off and only the photographers who take the risk will get the shot and I love that.
After the photographers got kicked out of the pit I got in the crowd and made my way to the front. I knew Odd Future was going to get in the audience and some point and I wanted that shot because no one would have it. I also wanted to make it clear to the band that I would not be scared away. Not that they give a shit but it’s a personal thing. I got to the front of the barrier and Tyler the Creator jumped into the crowd. I got some fun shots of him and I got a text from my client saying they needed something so I needed to get out of the crowd. The night before I had crowd surfed out of the Girl Talk show so I figured maybe I could get someone to lift me up and push me over the barricade where I could cut though the VIP area back to my client. But as soon as I got picked up by the crowd they started moving me away from the stage because they saw I was taking pictures while crowd surfing. Everyone started flicking me off because I was the photographer so I started flicking them off. Eventually I got turned around towards the stage so I gave Odd Future the middle finger all while shooting photos. Left Brain saw me from stage and pointed me out to everyone. I think he said something like “Look at that photographer in the mosh pit!” All I know is that when I finally got down people were high-fiving me and flicking me off at the same time. It was a lot of fun.
After the show I walked through the artist area to piss and on the way back from the bathroom I saw Left Brain and he started pointing at me from about 20 feet away. I wasn’t sure if when I got to him he was going to try to fight me or what but when I got over to him he said something like “You are that crowd surfing photographer! I was just talking about you.” We shook hands and I told him how much I loved the punk rockness of their set.
I need to wrap this up as this post is getting really long but I want to make it very clear that the woman who claims she was slapped in the face was not slapped in the face. I also think that if you are worried about getting hurt or breaking your equipment you should go shoot safe sedate bands that stand around playing their guitars making it real easy for you and 200 other photographers to get the same damn shot of them. And if the photographers who are up in arms about this want to get pissed off at an artist get pissed off at performers that make you shoot from the sound board or artists like Britney Spears and the Foo Fighters who try to and force photographers to sign contracts saying they own the photographers images. Those are the bands really fucking up photographers… not a group like Odd Future.
UPDATE: In the 30 minutes this post has been up two people have commented on the bland of these photos after I “bragged” about getting shots no one else gets. They have a point. These photos are pretty mediocre and other than the shots of Tyler in the crowd pretty much the same as any other photographer who covered this event has. I know I am going to make a lot of photographer enemies if this post gets out there so I just wanted to point out that I don’t think these photos are anything special. I also want to point out that you are a bitch. Thanks.