Thursday, July 24, 2008

Welcome to funky town

I go on all kinds of assignments on any given day. Some are happy, some are sad. Some assignments are a test of all my photojournalism skills and experiences and others make me stare at my shoes as I wonder how a guy screwing in sprinklers gets paid $50 an hour. And then there was the assignment I went on today. My last assignment was a short drive from the office to Lincoln Park for the Music in the park series final performance. But little did I know that short drive would take me to funky town.

First off I don’t like disco. Disco, rap, Gregorian chants, they all have their niche and it is not with me. Give me some Fleetwood Mac or a nice Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet band on the radio and I am a happy camper. It’s not that I am a music snob, I have a very diverse iPod library but I do have my limits.

So there I am at the park trying to find out who is going to play. There is a question as one paper reported the band the Cheeseballs while others say it is to be the band the Wonderbread 5. I have no clue who either band is. Bad sign number one on assignment, you don’t know who you are going to be shooting. I finally get the scoop it is to the Wonderbread 5 for the last performance of the summer. I get the band member’s names and find out they play a collection of 70’s and 80’s music. I check my gear and stake my shooting spot. I have budgeted about a half an hour to get my four or so shots for a standalone package. Should be an easy assignment. The National Anthem was sung and as the band took the stage I knew instantly my assignment had gone downhill fast. Hell, it went off the road and plummeted down the cliff.

So that epiphany that my assignment was not going to go well was the band’s entrance. When I was talking to them before the show they were dressed like anyone else. Not to shabby, not to flashy. As the lead singer took to the stage the first thing I noticed were his pants. His bright red Coca-Cola pants. Bright red sneakers too. If the pants weren’t odd enough his blond wig was making me wonder. Then I saw the bass player and his outfit, a leopard jumpsuit it sunk in. Not just 70’s music, but bad 70’s music we all refuse to admit we ever listened to. That 70’s funk-disco music.

So there I am shooting a guy with a giant wig, one guy in leopard pajamas and one guy with a teal painted guitar. I am trying to remember a sight that seemed more out of place than this group in Tracy but honestly I am at a loss. I just tried not gag as they played those disco tainted tunes you see advertised on late night television.

I went through my usual progression, shoot with a long lens, blow at the background when I could and change angles to get a variety of the performers on stage. It was kind of hard to not starting feeling bad for the band. The crowd was less than enthusiastic; I think they were in shock over their entrance just as I was. The lead singer implored someone to dance in front of the stage but all I saw was one littler kid run away in terror. I think it was those red pants, they were freaking me out too.

Mercifully I had enough shots and I headed out. I had enough of that 70’s funk sound. The Music in the Park is a great series I just wish it could have ended on a higher note. I all I can hope for next year are no more leopard pajamas on stage. Even I have my limits.

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