By Andrea Ramirez-Maciolek, Rock At Night Philadelphia Correspondent
Venue: BB&T Pavillion, Camden, New Jersey–May 21, 2016
Heavy downpours did not stop Philadelphia’s local rock radio station, WMMR, from having their yearly outdoor barbecue concert. Die hard fans braved the drenching rain while hanging out to see their favorite bands.
Upon arrival at the venue I knew it was going to be beautiful madness. When I arrived at 10 am, there was already a line of cars waiting to get in for the 1 o’clock show. Finding parking was a task in itself as the tailgating parties have already commenced in the parking lot. It looked like being down at the Jersey shore but instead of an actual ocean it was a sea of cars and people setting up their tents and hanging out on lawn chairs. It seemed the rain was going to hold off for a while and a little drizzle was not going to stop anyone. I had spoken too soon, as I was being escorted to my parking spot by a kind, almost sober gentleman, who helped me direct my car into my parking spot next to his tailgating party it started to rain, hard. Amazingly people stayed out and continued the partying. I was offered a beer and was invited to the party next to my car but I kindly declined. What can I say, music fans are the best and the venue took good care of them by handing out free rain ponchos to everyone.
First band on stage was local band Soraia, a powerful female fronted band that got the crowd roaring as body surfers started to come down through the photo pit-the crowd, energetically untouchable by the rain. Unfortunately by the time they came out, I realized I found myself battling the elements as my camera had a hard time acclimating to the humid weather and the rain mist coming in from the back. I battled as my lens kept fogging up and my pictures all had halos around them. At this point I was terrified that the weather was going to ruin my entire shoot.
Thanks to the Rock Gods that be, as each band came on stage my camera got more and more used to the damp and humid environment. This was the moment Collective Soul hit the stage and I thank their amazing mojo for making the rest of the night unforgettable as my technical problems seemed to have magically disappear for the rest of the event. Their performance was amazing, singer Ed Roland, looked amazing with his dark sunglasses and suave rock and roll moves. They had the best light show of the night, well, at least from a photographic perspective, with beautiful spot light beams through out their performance. They were amazing, as they played hit after hit song from their long standing musical career.
With more dramatic stage lighting and stage presence, Sixx AM hit the stage. The crowd went insane and the girls went wild. Growing up in the hair metal era of the 80s, what girl does not like a man with makeup. Guitarist DJ Ashba and singer James Michael were energetically entertaining, It was hard to keep up with these guys running around with a camera from one end of the stage to the other. Of course who can’t forget Nikki Sixx with his more mysterious quietness who kept leaning over the crowd to give high fives and hand shakes. You can’t help but love the guy because you know he loves his fans and the music which is why he is still going strong.
As the day went on the weather was starting to take its toll on people. The rain was just not cooperating and if you thought that the rain could not get any worse, it did! The harder the bands rocked, the harder the rain fell. Unfortunately those of us who had precious gear missed a lot of the show because we had to stay indoors. By the time the last band came on, many people had cleared the lawn area.
The last band to come on was Disturbed. Wow, did they put on an amazing performance. Singer David Draiman, hit the stage with a long black coat, very Matrix-like, as fire pyrotechnics lit up behind him as he threw fist punches up in the air. With the cold and damp rainy day, the pyrotechnics felt warm and comforting. At this point it was hard to believe that many of us had made it through 12 hours of inclement weather. Yes, at this point, for once in my life I think I was completely rocked out but I am glad I hung on tight. By the time I packed everything up and got to my car to go home I actually kissed my steering wheel and yelled “I can’t believe I survived!”
It was a tough night for all of us. A fellow photographer had his camera broken as it fell checking it out from security and along with the bad weather, we all hung in there in the name of rock and roll. This was the first shoot I had that truly tested a lot of my strengths. There were moments where I was exhausted, cold, and wet and I was not sure if I could continue but I did. If the fans could do it, so could I. Over all this was the best MMR BQ in my opinion, I will defiantly never forget it and the amazing bands made it even more memorable. When I look back on the show, the magic would not have been the same without the rain.
Red Sun Rising
3 Doors Down
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I'm a photojournalist who is passionate about music. I love the adrenaline of shooting live concerts. Photography has given me the opportunity to photograph some of today's most legendary bands, and entertainers. When I'm not photographing music you can find me on the runway shooting New York and Philadelphia Fashion Week.
Favorite quote: “Photography is a love affair with life.” — Burk Uzzle