Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
Alex Peterson is only 21 years old and he’s already captured moments that’ll last a lifetime. He’s been a photographer and videographer for six Rolling Loud festivals including the one with Offset’s famous onstage apology to Cardi B.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the young photographer discusses the three-foot long pizza Shaq ordered on his rider, how Coronavirus is affecting photographers, and the most exciting Rolling Loud memories. Read below!
What was your favorite Rolling Loud performance you’ve shot?
Travis [Scott] is a cop-out answer because he’s always an amazing performer. My favorite performance was probably [Machine Gun Kelly], honestly, in New York and L.A. The New York one last September was my first time ever seeing MGK live and was probably the best performance I saw at any festival ever. He’s a total rockstar. He plays the guitar. He plays drums. He’s just amazing live. At the end of his set at both New York and L.A., he climbed the scaffolding that had to have been 70 feet high. He climbed all the way up there and looped his legs through the top of the scaffolding, and just hung upside down. He was up there for about a minute. I was watching it happen thinking, “Is anyone going to stop this from happening?” I was shooting and told his security guard, “Man, you have a lot of responsibility.” He looked at me, shook his head, and was like, “Yeah, I’m getting used to it. But, it’s still a lot.” That was the most stand out moment for me from Rolling Loud.
Out of all the Rolling Loud shows, what was the most difficult set to get photos from?
Cardi B (at Rolling Loud Los Angeles on December 15, 2018) might’ve been the most difficult to photograph. Towards the end of the night, Rolling Loud security starts to get a little tighter because it’s a bigger artist coming. So, Beth [Saravo] and I were up onstage at about 6 o’clock and I think Cardi B was going around 10 o’clock. We had a port-a-potty backstage, so we’re going to stay there, so we can make sure we’re the only ones up there when it’s time for her set. We didn’t really move anywhere. We found a corner of the stage where we’re a little hidden and just chilled out. It was the night Offset proposed to her by surprise.
[His] set started, we were shooting, and we looked over to the right and saw Offset come up with this huge thing of flowers. We were thinking, “What is going on right now?” No one had an idea of what was happening. All of a sudden, the mic was cut and everything stopped. We got the whole thing on camera. I took this picture of Cardi and Offset hugging. We didn’t know what to do because you could see the amount of surprise on her face. It was crazy.
What was it like shooting Lil Uzi Vert at Rolling Loud Miami in 2019?
Miami was amazing. That was the show where I took that photo of Cardi B and Offset that I told you about. Uzi’s set was amazing. He’s one of the best artists to shoot, in my opinion, because his security is really cool and he’s pretty cool about cameras. I had no problem being onstage and I have some great shots that I remember from his set. He was still teasing his album. People were still upset that Eternal Atake hadn’t dropped yet. He walked out on the catwalk, I was in the booth, and he went, “So, are y’all ready for my album?” Everyone screamed and then, he said, “Nah, it sounds like y’all ready for someone else’s album. Are you ready for my album?” Everyone screamed and he just went, “OK, bye,” dropped the mic and walked off the stage. It was the most hilarious moment of the entire weekend.
What other artists are the most open and helpful to getting you the photos you need?
Lil Skies is definitely one. A lot of the younger guys because they are younger, [they] have more fun in front of the camera. Surprisingly, the times I shot DaBaby have been good. As long as you’re not up in his face and pressing him, he’s really cool. NLE Choppa is really cool. He had his mom and dad up on the stage. I try to read the security and the vibe the artist has. If they’re up there having a great time and they don’t have a ton of people up there with them, then most of the time, they’re going to be cool with it. Playboi Carti and Travis Scott are a lot tougher to be around with the camera.
You shot Lil Tjay’s show at St. Andrews Hall in Chicago. What’s a show with him like?
He’s young and I didn’t have a problem shooting him. I got as close as I needed and wanted. He’s an awesome performer in my opinion. I really enjoy him as an artist. When he performed in Chicago, you could tell the crowd was super engaged and knew every song. A lot of times the crowd is there and excited, but they don’t know all the songs. When a crowd is good, know all the songs, and love an artist, it makes the show that much more fun. He played “F.N.” It was a couple of days after Pop [Smoke] passed and did a little tribute section to him. It got the crowd going and it was super emotional. It was also a cool moment because they were so close to each other.
Back to Rolling Loud. What song do you think got the biggest reaction live?
I would say “The Box.” It was Rolling Loud L.A. (on December 15, 2019) and Roddy [Ricch] dropped his album [nine days before]. “The Box” was already huge. Everyone knew it would be crazy. I was up there with one other kid shooting YG’s set. Roddy wasn’t even on the lineup, surprisingly. Mustard came out and said, “I want to have a party with L.A.” I saw Roddy standing to the side of the stage and I thought, “Man, I really hope he comes out and performs ‘The Box.’” Sure enough, he came out, performed “The Box” and a few other records. As soon as “The Box” intro came on, everyone went crazy.
Have you seen other artists stand to the side and watch other artists perform?
I’m always trying to pay attention to that because a lot of artists will come a couple of minutes before their set, perform, and then leave a couple of minutes after. After MGK set, he stuck around for the rest of the night. His set was about 7 o’clock and was around for the rest of the night. He was in the pit for Young Thug. That was the first time I saw an artist hangout to listen to someone else. It was a cool moment to see that.
Have you seen any interesting riders?
The funniest and most interesting rider I’ve seen was at PRYSM Nightclub in Chicago for Shaq. They made him a huge pizza that had to be three feet long and four feet wide. It was a massive pizza. The pizza slices were the size of my arm.
How has Coronavirus affected your work?
It’s rough, honestly. I had a lot of gigs lined up. They haven’t canceled Rolling Loud Miami yet, but it’s a little over a month away and could very well get canceled. It’s affecting everybody’s lives and works. It’s affecting ours specifically because we rely on the entertainment industry heavily — festivals, concerts, or whatever it may be. Live Nation and AEG canceling all of their tours means there are no tour shows. There’s nothing. I came back home to Wisconsin a week ago and my classes got moved online. I’ve been on go mode for the last three years on top of doing school. So, it’s nice to reflect and put some time into learning new 3D stuff and new skills.