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I'm a music photographer living in Los Angeles. Here is where you can read about my experiences as a concert photographer, songs and albums I especailly like, my thoughts about the latest music news, and other things that relate to music and/or photography. Enjoy!

By Sarah McLean, Mar 9 2016 07:00PM

I recently experienced a first when it comes to concerts. Being a rock ’n’ roll fan, it took me a solid hour into “I Love the 90s” before I realized, “This is the first concert I’ve ever been to where there isn’t a live guitar.”

A majority of the acts were hip-hop artists (Tone Loc, Young MC, Rob Base, Kid 'n Play) as well as singing groups (Color Me Badd, All 4 One). All of them sang live to backing tracks. Even Vanilla Ice, the closing act, who did have 2 live musicians, only utilized a keyboardist and a drummer.

What was happening to my rock n roll world?!

Sometimes you just gotta stretch outside your comfort zone. And I do loves me some Color Me Badd.

The whole night was a fun throw back to old-school hip hop and to the “Yo! MTV Raps” days, that even after I made the realization, I was quickly lost again in the music. I hear the Funky Cold Medina will do that to you.

And say what you will about packaged nostalgia shows, but I think it says a lot about an artist’s ability to hold an audience’s attention that it took me so long before I caught on to the lack of a live band. Or I’m just an idiot. Or Rob Base really does know how to hype the audience into a frenzy.

When I attend packaged shows like this, I often put myself in the artists shoes. We’d all love to be headlining major concert venues around the world forever, but the music business is so fickle that your super stardom usually only lasts a couple years. Unless you’re one of the lucky few. So then what do you do after the glitter fades?

This is where the love of performing comes in. Or the need (attempt) to maintain a certain lifestyle. Or the need to hold on to the past. Or… fill in the blank.

There are some artists that consider themselves too good to be part of these shows, let alone be billed second or third (or lower). I always admire those artists who recognize where they’re at and choose, either because they love doing what they do (my hope) or that they’re aware this is the only thing they know how to do in life, and keep going.

It does come down to personal preference. And there’s validity in everyone’s choice to say “Fuck you, I’m not doing that bullshit” or “Sure. Hey, money’s money, right?” but I think that decision separates those who just love doing what they do from those that were chasing an empty sense of glory and didn't get as far as they assumed they would.

Case in point: I recently saw Lit open up a packaged show. They went on around 430pm in an outside venue. Daytime. Outside. The sun was still out. Hardly a ‘rock n roll’ atmosphere. They rocked the three-quarter’s full amphitheater like they were fucking headliners. They gave zero fucks. They were there to rock. And they did.

I’ve never considered myself a Lit fan and I’m not saying I am a fan now, but they certainly have my respect. And they have my respect more than the bands I do like that refuse to do these type of shows because they’re “above it”.

But, hey, respect don’t pay the bills.

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