Sunday, July 5, 2015

Concert Photo: Sebastian Bach Performing at Altar Bar in Pittsburgh, PA on July 3, 2015

Are you confused by the title of this post?  Perhaps I made a typo and left off the “s” on the word photo?   Unfortunately, that is no typo.  I expected to be spending my day editing photos from the Sebastian Bach show here in Pittsburgh to share with you but unfortunately things did not go as planned.

When I found out that Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row singer) was coming to town I was excited to pursue photo credentials for the show so that I could provide you with images of a singer that I always looked at as an icon.  

About a week before the show, I was delighted to receive a message from his management at his record label approving me for one ticket and one photo pass.  The only photo policy that I received in that message was “First three songs, No flash!”  That is a very typical protocol for shooting bands these days so I was happy to know that I was on my way to getting some great shots to share with you here.

While standing in line, someone from the crew started a conversation with me and I briefly mentioned that I was here to shoot the show.  That’s when I got some surprising news.  He informed me to stay out of the photo pit.  Sebastian Bach does not like his photo taken from that angle.  Oh boy!  A red flag just went up.  What kind of a night is this going to be?  Luckily, I was in line very early so my daughter and her friend could get up front as they were very excited to see someone who they view as a legend in the rock world.  

After the doors open, I check in while my daughter and her friend head right for the barrier.  I decided to stand to the side of the barrier as it is a sold out show and I can at least access the pit for the local bands.   After the local bands finish I keep hearing in my mind the member of the crew telling me to stay out of the pit so I try to figure out how I am going to get my shots which I am supposed to share with the record label who gave me permission to be there.  The small venue is packed with around 600 people on two floors.  I look around and sum it up that I it would be best to get a few shots from the side of the stage right by the pit before attempting to venture though a very rough crowd with my not-exactly-cheap photo equipment.

The lights go down and the intro music goes on.  The crowd roars.  The backup band makes their way to the stage and there he is, the one and only Sebastian Bach.  After a few lines of one of Skid Row’s hits, “Slave to the Grind” the mic cuts out a couple of times and this throws Bach into a tizzy.  He slams his mic on the ground and runs off stage.  Oh boy, this isn’t a good way to get started. 

This scene plays all over again like nothing happened.  Here he comes for round 2.  This time things seem to be going well.  The mic is working just fine; the crowd is excited and singing along.  All seems well, until he spots me.  A photographer, off to the side of the pit with a pro camera taking his picture.  He starts yelling in my direction.  I can’t quite tell what he is saying as the speaker is inches from my left ear.  I make out the word “BACK!” as he scowls at me and waves his hand.  I thought that perhaps the crowd in that area that I am standing in is getting too close to the stage as it seems the Altar Bar security  assumes as well as he pushes us all back a bit.  Sebastian still continues to yell in my direction and the next thing I know is security and a crew member are telling me that I have to go to the back of the venue.  I show them my credentials, trying to explain that I have permission to shoot but they do not care.  It’s their job to keep the temperamental rockstar on stage happy so that he can get though at least one song without another tantrum.

Seeing that having permission to photograph this show means absolutely nothing at this point, I just give up.  I don’t even have time to pack up my gear.  With camera in hand, I have to push my way through a tightly packed crowd to try and find my way out and hope that I don’t lose anything.

I find my way outside where I try to make sense of what just happened.  I feel embarrassed and a bit humiliated.  Then out of the crowd comes my daughter, her friend and her friend’s dad.  They tell me that they could not stomach to watch Sebastian Bach after the way that he just treated me.  Then several other folks emerge from the mass of people, hugging me and telling me that was uncalled for and then leaving because they didn’t care to see anymore either.  I appreciated the support but I felt bad on so many levels about it.

As many of you know, Helping Hands Rock Reviews is a charitable website.  This is not my full time job.  I volunteer my time and use my equipment to shoot these rock shows in hopes of raising a few dollars for charitable organizations.  I was there just trying to do my job.  One that I am not even paid for.  And that was how I was treated.

So back to that “typo” that you thought I made in the title of this post…I decided to share one photo from the night.  One that will illustrate the anger that was aimed right in my direction right before I was yelled at like a child who just got in trouble with her parents.  Except in the presence of 600 or so people.  The one that sums up my experience of this entire show.