Backstage with Arkells
There I was, sitting on a couch in the greenroom next to Max Kerman, front man of the Arkells, as I scrolled through the set list he just sent me while he pointed out photo opportunities during different songs. If you had told me I’d be there even just a day prior, I’d have had a hard time believing you.
I bought tickets to the show as soon as they came on sale months ago. My best friend Kendra and I had been waiting to attend one of their shows together for years, and finally we were going to be in the same city at the same time they were in town. Their shows are always a party and we were excited to dance and sing along the entire time.
About a week before the concert we found out that they were playing an acoustic set the afternoon before their show and the only way to attend was to win tickets on the radio. We immediately tuned in, but were never able to end the day with tickets in hand. I knew the band was very active on social media, having had them favourite and respond to a few of my tweets in the past, so I decided to see if they could helps us out. The four days before the show I sent them a couple of tweets a day, even bribing them with brownies if they'd hook us up. Finally, my (not so) hard work payed off the night before the show when they replied to a tweet with an email address to contact to me get on the list for the acoustic set at LB Distillers.
I immediately emailed the agent and she confirmed that she would put Kendra and I on the guest list. I was thrilled and in my thank-you response decided to check if I could bring a camera to the set as well. I have been thinking more recently about wanting to get into concert photography but wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it, not having any examples to prove myself. I thought that I might as well check to see if they would let me in with my 6D or even just my RX100 to capture a few shots at the show. The contact responded that the radio station putting on the acoustic set would have a photographer and didn’t want any other photos taken. I accepted this as I read on to see the words “Would you like a photo pass to shoot at the [evening] show?"
My answer was a resounding “yes” as I explained that I was a photographer and have been wanting to try my hand at concerts. She then blew my mind once more and said I could have an all-access pass and capture mid-afternoon sound-check and stay around for their VIP Q&A. I honestly couldn't believe it as I read through the rest of the details, my mind running to where I would be 15 hours later.
I walked into Prairieland Park a little unsure where to go. I called the tour manager I was given the number to and he instructed me where to meet him. He then walked me into the greenroom, introduced me to the boys – Max remembered me from speaking with him at the acoustic set a couple hours earlier – and that was that. All access literally meant all access. I could shoot the band whenever and wherever, help myself to snacks and catering, and basically just hang out with these talented musicians I’ve been singing along to since high school.
I knew they were nice on the Internet, but the guys are genuinely such kind people who care about their fans. They were so friendly, including me in conversation and asking me about myself. My favourite part of the day was when they heard about a high school class from La Ronge that had made the 4 hour trip to see their show and invited them back for a little meet and greet. I knew a couple of the students and was excited to capture them singing along together with the band and asking questions about becoming professional musicians themselves. It was so encouraging to see such a successful Canadian band take an interest in students and encourage them to keep chasing their dreams.
Just before the show started, the guys huddled together and put their hands in. As seemed to be the custom, they discussed what to break on and with the town of La Ronge floating around they came to a conclusion. “La Ronge is the new black” they chanted and made their way on stage.