At the time, this was absolutely the best photo I'd ever taken, and 25 years later it's still one of my all-time favourites.
It was the kind of ideal moment that you hope will present itself to you once in your life. The perfectly smooth gradation from light to dark thanks to the positioning of the light and the right amount of atmosphere in the air. The kind of film grain that makes me smile, and Thom Yorke glowing in an iconic pose at the centre of it all. It's stunning.
And I'm not patting myself on the back here, believe me. Like with all concerts, I was an innocent bystander with no control over the conditions. They all just happened to line up magically to gift me something remarkable. A few years later at my first exhibition in Toronto an older woman stood and stared at that photo. I approached her and she said “I have no idea who this person is but I can hear him singing.”
The photo was taken at a private industry showcase for Capitol Records in a relatively small club in Vancouver. Representatives from the label and its subsidiaries came in from around the world for a conference including Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch, the founder of Grand Royal.
Oh yeah, and Foo Fighters played too. Not a bad work party.
The biggest names in music came together for two days to entertain and to enlighten the world about the decades-old ugly situation happening to the people of Tibet.
The vibe backstage was relaxed and conversational. There were interviews being conducted all over the place and some of my favourite photos from the weekend came from those moments. I heard a lot of people speak and what they said had a profound impact on me to an extent changed the way I live my life.
There are way too many photos to include everyone in this post but here are some of my favourites.
As for the concert itself, scroll down for Beastie Boys!
1,2: Throughout the weekend Tibetan Monks created a stunning mandala, and as a show of impermanence they poured the sand into the river as part of the closing ceremony. 3: Adam Yauch with Tibetan Monks participating in the closing ceremony. 4: Adam Yauch. 5: Björk. 6: Bono. 7: Biz Markie. 8: Q-Tip, if you read this I’d love to see the footage you shot! 9: Chuck D. 10: Foo Fighters
Beastie Boys created this festival to promote the Tibetan Independence Movement. The first one was in San Francisco in 1996.
The 1997 lineup in New York included Radiohead, Bjork, U2, A Tribe Called Quest, Alanis Morissette, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Blur, Pavement, Michael Stipe and many more.
In 1996 I started my own online magazine called SODA, and the summer '97 issue featured a TON of photos and interviews from the festival. I'm trying to figure out a way to recreate or at least re-upload the issue from my archives, but for now I want to share these photos of the main attraction, Beastie Boys.