What I learned sneaking into Field Trip

Field Trip.jpg
Photo by Yi Shi

Day One

Most everyone stands at the main stage. The first day of Field Trip is nearly over. The sun goes down cooling the growing crowd. In well-worn muddy shoes with a camera around my neck, I shift my weight to my other foot. Glancing around at the familiar photographers waiting at the photo pit entrance, I smile, nod and laugh in conversation. Security gives the wave as July Talk is about to take the stage. The crowd is cheering the band’s name from behind the barrier to the left. To the right, in matching black outfits, five stone-faced men stand in a line at the stage.

A large man with  yellow vest blocks the photo-pit entrance, checking wristbands as each photographer enters the pit. With shoulders back and my head held high as I hold my wristband high and step past, nothing new. My wristband had gotten me into the pits all day long…(so far).

“Hold it.” The man said. “What is this?” Ignoring personal space he grabs my wrist, turning the yellow band. He eyes it, and then stares at me.

“I’m here for the festival.” I say simply. He drops my arm and nods. I take my spot in the pit pretending that I didn’t have a mini-heart attack, because…well, I’m not saying I snuck into field trip but I’m not saying I didn’t. I’m just saying I was there. I won’t say how. But I will say thank you!

Back to security: now, let’s note, I wasn’t lying EXACTLY. I was there for the festival; it’s not my fault if he assumed I was in the pit shooting for the festival. That’s simply, a misunderstanding on his end.

Now, this wasn’t exactly easy (at first). There were a few things I had to learn, and learn quickly when it came to being somewhere I wasn’t technically allowed.

First, confidence is everything…EVERYTHING. If you can convince yourself you belong, everyone else will follow. In the beginning I was content with shooting from the crowd. People were polite, everyone respected my space and I had the equipment. After the first band, my limitations from shooting from the crowd were apparent. More people were coming and it wasn’t as easy to move. Not impossible, but more of a challenge.

Bully was up next and the pit was open and…fuck it. I went for the pit. The security guard was off to the side. Photographers entered the pit, with wristbands completely different than mine. With shoulders back and head held high I hold my dinky camera in front of me and walked past as if I was the most important person in the world. The few in knew in the pit waved to me. While slipping right under security waving my arm for him to get a glance at my wrist band, as if I’d done it a thousand times before. A few stares from security came my way.

Before anyone could give me another look, I realized it’s about who you know. No one is going to say anything to you when you walk up to the photo pit and are met with waves from the big guys.

“How’s it going?” a familiar voice called as I took a spot beside him.

“Great. How are you?” I asked.

“Great. Where’s that red wristband? “ He winked.


“Excuse me.” I heard hollered behind me. A mini heart attack ensued. I turned slightly, realizing he wasn’t talking to me but another media outlet that wasn’t granted pit access. The girl turned away, taking a place in the crowd.

A few more shows later, and a tummy full of fries. I headed back to the smaller stage, this time fewer were in the pit.

“Hey, where is your media pass?” The security guarded asked midway through Holy Fuck’s set. I lowered my camera, politely, yet gave off enough of an attitude for him to know he was disrupting me while I was working.

I could have panicked…but then he would have known I wasn’t supposed to be there. Point being. In this moment, you can really only stay calm and again, go back to point number one. Confidence is everything, but more importantly: be prepared to stick with your bullshit.

“I’m here for the festival.” I said confidently.

*He stares* His hands reaches toward the walkie-talkie strapped to his chest. He hit the button and before he could talk I interrupted.  Now I don’t want to say lying helps, but twisting the hell out of truth sure does.

“Oh, I was given this. It has given me pit access all day. Is there a problem? Should I request a media pass with the front?” I say waving my bracelet.

Security guard stares, dropping his hand.

…Kinda. When in doubt…lie…lie…lie…if you believe it they will too.

 “Do you need me to email someone?” I asked pulling out my phone.

“Oh, no no. You’re right. It’s cool. My mistake.” He said backing away.

“No problem.” I said raising my camera.

Situation averted.

Throughout out the festival my debatable presence was only questioned a few times. The second day there were different security guards and I had to start from scratch.

The festival began, but was shut down and evacuated as soon as the flash flooding began. Arriving after the entire debacle once the festival reopened, I checked the security situation. Different faces. My heart-raced again, after the familiarity of yesterday’s guards were gone.

Yet again, I took a chance.

Waiting at the pit with the other photographers we spoke of the evacuation and the cancelled shows. Things were behind and pushed back, but everyone was grateful the rest wasn’t cancelled.

DIIV was up and it was time to enter the pit.

“What’s this?” The guard asked me. With a frown he stared at my wristband. I could tell he was mentally recalling which bands were allowed in the pit. He had just sent two people away for not having the right ones. There was difference between me and them: our answers. When asked the same question they answered with “Umm…” and a panic in their eyes. Replaying everything I learned the day before, I let out an easy breath and smile.

Again, I say. “I’m here for the festival.”


Check out photos from the festival here

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