Trailerpark Festival 2013 was rich in every way an art and music celebration should be: visually, aurally, and atmospherically. For a photographer, this provoked the pleasurable dilemma: do I shoot, or do I put the camera down to lose myself in the music?
Even beyond that, watching technicians running amok with performers backstage, awash in cables, microphones and lighting gear, making a swathe of last minute adjustments and checks before the stage lights dimmed for the MC to announce another act, the question we often asked ourselves was: how do I reconcile the human ordinariness of what happens backstage with what happens on stage – the lights and sea of sound and the adulation that made men and women temporary gods, creating a world made tangible only by the fervent will of the audience?
Small stages meant that there was almost no separation between audience and performer. The intimacy did nothing to diminish the power that the music had over the crowd; if anything, it delivered a connection between the performers and their audiences that would not otherwise have existed.
“It was the first time I couldn’t hear myself singing” said Rangleklods frontman Esben Anderson of the crowd singing along to Clouds at a volume that overwhelmed their monitors, thanking them for what would have been a tremendous experience for any performer.
Getting to see for ourselves, how an artist prepares for the spotlight, was invaluable insight into what it takes to be a star: MØ finding a quiet moment in the folds of the very curtain that separated her from the masses that would scream louder and louder for her as her performance wore on. Nikolaj Vonsild of When Saints Go Machine stretching his vocals to his headphones as the band set their lighting and equipment up, escaping into the zone with the efficiency of an established performer about to deliver his fans a mesmerizing hour of gratification. Hans Philip of Ukendt Kunstner owning the very air around him from the moment he hit the backstage, exuding the incredible power and energy that never flagged for a second during the pair’s first proper concert act, which was a wild success by any measure: “who are these guys?” people on the floor were heard asking in awe, over and over again.
While the separation between what happens on stage, and the rest of life is a common experience among all who do their work in the spotlight, getting to be a part of each individual story, makes the festival experience so much richer than just three days of musical goodness. It allows an outsider a rare glimpse into what is at stake, for those to whom performance is as much a part of the creation of art, as the art itself.