(Not) Eminem + Kendrick Lamar + J.Cole + Action Bronson + 360 @ Suncorp Stadium, 20.02.2014

Kendrick Lamar @ Suncorp Stadium, Thursday 20 February 2014

The day after the Wire show at the Zoo and it’s a last minute opportunity to photograph the show at Suncorp. It makes me regret turning down the opportunity to photograph Dolly Parton at the BEC on the Friday night because I could have had a four-in-a-row run of Wire, this show, Dolly Parton and Soundwave.

The downside to tonight’s show is that bizarrely we’re not allowed to photograph the headline act.  I’ve been to festivals where we’ve not been allowed to photograph headliners or certain bands during the day but can’t remember ever going to a show where this has been a stipulation for the main attraction.  Eminem has brought his own personal photographer and they’re supplying the official photo to the media.  What’s funny is that the official photo from the Brisbane show that comes out the next day is pretty terrible.

It’s an early start time, needing to be at the venue by 4pm if we want to photograph all the rest of the bill.  The photographers are allowed to sit and watch the bands, so it’s a more pleasant experience than last time I photographed at Suncorp for The Police/Fergie when they made us wait on the pavement outside between acts and kicked us out of the venue after The Police’s first three songs.

It’s not just that so much Australian hip hop is bad, it’s just that so much of it, at least what I hear played, is so far behind the rest of the world.  It’s funny how 360 has turned into some enlightened renaissance man by the end of 2014 considering his songs include lyrics about bitches sucking his dick and he also adds in some between song banter about how crazy the first night of the tour had been with “chicks getting their tits out”.  It just makes you think that it’s 2014 and haven’t we as a civilisation just moved along from all this crap? It’s terrible but depressingly the crowd seem really into it.

Ah, the crowd. It’s easy to feel that I stick out like a sore thumb given I haven’t got a neck tattoo and aren’t wearing a wife-beater and baseball cap combination.  I find out afterwards that the reviewers got the five-star treatment, watching from a corporate box with air con (it’s a ridiculously hot and humid afternoon), free food and as much free alcohol as they want.  Us lowly photographers just get to watch various acts of carnage down near the front of the stage.  A woman gets dragged over the barrier and one point and goes mental at the security, I think one of them might have copped a foot to the face.  After a bunch of them basically sit on her for about five minutes, it looks like it’s all calmed down but as soon as it reaches a point of relaxation she kicks off again and gets unceremoniously dragged out with a security guard on each limb.

Whereas 360 gets the crowd going, you could almost hear a pin drop after each of Action Bronson’s songs.  He’s a big man and way out of shape, probably not helped by the heat of the day.  He has to have a puff on something after every song and at one point is just bent over double getting his breath back.  He starts early than advertised, with only me in the pit although another couple of photographers make it before he finishes off after only about 20 minutes to mute applause.

Back in the crowd I miss a fight that happens but get to see the aftermath as one guy lies motionless on the floor being attended to by medical staff who eventually take him away (still motionless) on a stretcher while a group of police talk to three guys for some time before escorting them away.

If I could remember more, I’m sure I would say more about J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar other than the fact that everything is better when you have a full band backing you, rather than relying on the tinny sounds of decks and samples.

I don’t stay for Eminem, partly because I assume we’re being kicked out, partly because I don’t really want to watch the show from the crowd.  I hear afterwards that I could have stayed and, as even a lowly photographer, I could also have also gotten access to that five star treatment being doled out to the important people.  As I leave, there’s a guy being dragged out by security, his trousers around his ankles as he’s chucked out of the venue.  Some might call it the perfect end to the night.

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