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A Different Kind Of Show

Posted in music, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Kevin Estrada

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Van Halen

February 8, 2012

Los Angeles Forum

Final Dress Rehearsal

So what happens when a photographer (and the biggest Van Halen fan I know) goes to Van Halen’s dress rehearsal and forgets his camera?  He ends up with photos like this.  Confused?  Read on.

I had heard of Van Halen’s “Friends And Family” dress rehearsal shows since I was a kid growing up in the San Gabriel Valley – Van Halen country as we call it.  This was a dream come true!

I knew I would not be allowed to bring my usual high end camera gear to the rehearsal, so I charged up the battery in my trusty Canon G-10 and cleared the memory card and was ready to snap away.  I was allowed to bring a guest with me to the show, so I immediately chose my 12 year old daughter – she loves the DLR!  I didn’t tell her where we were going, it made for a great surprise.

As we parked in the L.A. Forum parking lot, our excitement grew.  The second I stepped out of my car, I knew I had blown it.  I left my camera at home on the living room table – I had placed it there so I would not forget it.  Great job, Kevin!

I was devastated!  Immediately, my excitement turned to fatigue, all energy was sucked out of my body.  The walk into the venue must have been the longest walk of my life.  My daughter tried her best to console me, but she knows what a VH fan I am and how much I was looking forward to snapping some photos.

I began convincing myself that we would not be sitting close enough to the stage to get decent photos – that made me feel better. As we approached the inside of the arena, an usher asks us if we would like to sit in the upper seats or the loge section or if we wanted to go up front on the floor. Of course we chose to go up front on the floor.   Nothing like Van Halen right in front of your naked, steaming eyes!

We scored a spot so close to the stage we could nearly touch the band!  Kool And The Gang opened the show and I saw that everyone was snapping photos and shooting video with their phones.  We were all so close, that even the photos on the phones looked pretty good. It was killing me – there was no way I was going to make it through the show without shooting photos.

So I scouted the area and I found a friendly (and a bit intoxicated) woman and her pissed off punker husband with a Canon PowerShot. I couldn’t take my eyes off their camera. After about 10 minutes, I walk over to the husband and explain that I forgot my camera at home and I need to shoot some photos. I tell him that I will give them $20 if they let me shoot a handful of photos with their camera. They stare at me like I am nuts and ask me to explain it again – and again and again. Finally, after some begging she agrees and hands me the camera, just in time for VH to hit the stage.

At one point, the alcohol had her feeling a bit artsy, so she grabs the camera from me and starts screwing up the settings I had dialed in and tries to snap some miscellaneous photos. Just then, Alex jumps behind his drum kit and the lights drop.  Her husband yells at her, grabs the camera and hands it back to me and says, “Just to hold on to it for the rest of the show.” Yes!!

I dial my settings back in, and Van Halen tears into “You Really Got Me.” The camera shot a bit slow for me and had a bit of lag time, but it did the job. At the end of the show we exchanged numbers and email info so I can have them send me the photos.  The next day I discover that the couple does not know how to get the photos off the card.  I am getting worried the photos are going to be deleted or lost, or worse.  So I jump in my car and drive 60 miles to their home and grab the photos.  I must have had a smile a mile wide the whole way home!

This was one of the greatest nights of my life, so I wanted to share a handful of my photos with you…hope you like them.  And be sure to support Van Halen by buying their new CD and seeing them when they come to your hometown.

Ross Hogarth…you da’ man!!

Photographed with a borrowed Canon PowerShot SX130.

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