(Plymouth. Minnesota) The will-call line at the Hilde Performance Arts Center to enter the Indio Girls concert was a city block long, but everybody around me in line was eager to talk and make the wait a fun time, and once the line began moving it was actually excercise keeping up.
After breezing through security and placing my red adhesive photo pass on my red shirt and watching it vanish there, I looked about and saw the scale of the place. Trees towered around the edges of the large open spaces so I fit a 21mm super wide lens on my M because life felt large just being here. It required the “Gilliam” lens.
I’d been photographing pretty much nonstop for two weeks, and was in street-mode brain-wise having just returned from several days of shooting NYC everywhere from the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island with Shayne Hanley (Editor of Pancakes & Whiskey). So I was still seeing photos everywhere when I walked in. Both those that described why this crowd was special and at the same time I was also seeing photos that were just oddball or weird, because street-mode.
Even though the security volunteers’ black shirts said SEQUEERITY, this did not feel like a Pride event. It felt like a big concert. An opportunity to see Amy Ray and Emily Sailers for real. But pride in the non-slogan sense was the dominant feeling in the air, semi-unifying the ever-growing crowd that flooded the outdoor amphitheater. That’s what I was feeling and photographing as I wandered among that field of people.
Then nearby I saw a very heavy duty picnic table suddenly collapse with four people being either tossed or pinned by it. Help descended immediately and it appeared at least one person had a serious lower leg injury. I felt sorry for her because the show hadn’t yet begun and she probably had to go to the hospital.
Then it started. The opener was Kevn Kinney, who at one point was joined onstage by Indigo Girls’ violinist Lyris Hung. Kinney performed an excellent cover of The Replacement’s “Here Comes A Regular.”
Indigo Girls opened with “Fill It Up Again” as I snaked my way through the narrow passage between the front of the barricade and the stage. The four photographers covering this had been granted only the first three songs in which to work, once I got down and in there up close and got my eye in the game I immediately dropped my carefully crafted 4 lens plan and just put on the long zoom and winged it, choosing my moments with both instinct and heart, trying not to think about the passage of time being the passage of opportunity. So I had fun like I always do. Making things out of thin air is fun.
Then song 3 was over and once outside that zone, a security woman explained that we could to continue to make photographs from anywhere except in front of the barricade we had just left. I thanked them for their kindness and turned to hear Amy Rey ask the audience if they had any questions. It was during a brief lull as they were switching up guitars.
“Are you two sisters?” boomed a guy’s sarcasm. A silent, very pregnant pause. Everyone present is offended. Then: “Did you hear about us through the Barbie movie?” Emily Sailers retorts with elan. The song “Closer To Fine” is prominently featured in that film whenever characters travel between the real world and Barbieland. Indigo Girls 1 Heckler 0. Then a deep cut, “Three Hits” from 1992’s Rites of Passage.
I was up on a hill off to the right of the stage away from people and found myself photographing the sun setting behind a paired cloud and tree that looked so close to each other. And I thought of the two lifelong friends performing onstage and that image looming in the sky before them.
Then I jogged down the hill and kept finding pictures and reconnected with a very cool volunteer minding the VIP gate. As I approached, she let me in wink-nod. The people in there had been really stoked by songs like “Shame On You” and “The Wood Song.” I got another shot I liked from this new vantage, and was dancing with everyone else around me to “Galileo.” I turned and sitting behind me was the injured women, her whole lower leg bandaged and in an icepack. Joy held her in its grip as she sang “How long til my soul gets it right?” I felt so happy she got to stay, be here now, and feel like that. I took her picture as she sang those words.
Then I turned on my heel and fist-bumped the very cool VIP guard woman on the way out of the good seats and found my way back to that hill with it’s side view of the entire event. All those hands in the air. Dancing and laughing. The air hums with gratitude focused on the pair onstage, Amy and Emily. Their performance was impeccable.
They leave the stage only momentarily, returning a minute later to encore with “Kid Fears” and “Closer To Fine” (which is basically their Free Bird). I was happy with what I had in-camera. So I left it alone and just enjoyed that last one with my ears and not my eye.
My favorite verse was possibly, somewhere along the way, acknowledged by the band that it is the most popular verse among fans of the song when they sing it to them self in the shower, because that’s where Amy and Emily stopped singing and urged the audience to sing it:
And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free
Singing that with everyone else was the high point of the show for me. A simple pleasure magnified in the thousands and carried home.
Article/Images: Joe Cunningham
1. Fill It Up Again
3. Power Of Two
4. Howl At The Moon
5. When We Were Writers
6. Three Hits
7. Get Out The Map
8. Shit Kickin’
9. Country Radio
10. Shame On You
11. Least Complicated
13. (violin solo)
14. The Wood Song
15. Share The Moon
16. Fleet Of Hope
19. Kid Fears
20. Closer To Fine