I've been back and forth on whether or not I was going to post something about lolla. I stopped and asked myself why that was and I think it's because I'm back and forth on lolla in general. Did I have a fun time, sure. Was it because of the awesome concert experience or bands? Not so much. It was because it was fun to hang out with friends in a cool setting. And that's what lolla has become. There's a reason that Saturday sold out first despite the weakest lineup. It's because people could go for the day and hang out with their friends without having to miss work and with a day to recover on Sunday. The best example is from a couple years ago when I went to go see Radiohead there. One of the biggest bands in the world and people around me were talking so loudly that it was hard to hear the music. You couldn't get very close because people had their blankets spread out to sit around on the ground and chat and drink. And there were people puking everywhere. Lolla is about the hang out and less about the music.
Now you're saying, hey Cal. You're a music photographer and you didn't shoot Lolla? What's the deal? Welllllllllll I shot Lolla a few years back and it was one of the most unpleasant shooting situations I've ever been in. Very hot, run from one stage to another, wait in line, maybe get in to shoot, run to the next stage, repeat. And I would say that 60% of the people in the pit at something like Lolla are there for the experience and not because they're good photographers. I saw dozens of people walking around this year with photo wristbands and a Digital Rebel w/ a kit lens. You're not a professional photographer unless you have professional equipment. At least as it pertains to music photography. Take a look around the galleries from this past weekend and see if you can find any images that really jump out at you. I've looked at hundreds of images and the only ones that are interesting are the ones from angles you don't normally see (on stage, up in a crane, etc). It's not the fault of the photographers in all the cases (microphones directly in front of faces make for HORRIBLE music photographs), it's just a boring situation. 75% of the day lighting is just from the sun, the background is always equipment, white, or people standing around. And there are so many "photographers" crammed into that pit that it's hard to move.
Sooooooo yeah. If you're considering going to Lolla, I say do it up. But go in knowing that you're in for a great social experience where the music is secondary.