Vintage Trouble recently played their biggest gig in front of 115,000 people as the support act of AC/DCs “Rock or Bust” Tour 2015 at the Red Bull Ring in Zeltweg, Austria.
I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to join the band and work with them directly on stage. It was life changing for me and this experience once again showed me that being a concert photographer is the best job in the world!
I first got in contact with Vintage Trouble at the Blues Festival in Ottawa, Canada. I was touring with Shantel and the guys from Vintage Trouble had their backstage container next to theirs. They were scheduled to play after Shantel and, as Shantel walked off the stage after their show, I saw 4 guys, dressed in suits, getting ready for their gig.
I thought to myself, “Those guys look pretty awesome, I’ve got to get a portrait of them!” So I walked over to one of them and started chatting. He told me that he was originally from Sweden, but had been living in LA for quite a long time. He was the guitarist of the band Vintage Trouble and they said they’d be happy to pose for a portrait photo. 2 minutes later, the portrait shot was done and I went to the photo pit to take some stage shots. They blew me away with their energetic stage performance and the photos turned out great. When I was back from the tour, some weeks later, I got in touch with them again and sent them my photos.
Fast forward 2 years and I read that Vintage trouble would be the support band on AC/DC’s “Rock or Bust” tour. Actually, I read it 2 days before they were going to play in Austria! I thought, why not ask the guys from Vintage Trouble if I could work with them again? I got in contact and 12 hours later, I got a “Yes, let’s do this, we can get you on-stage!”
This was one day before the biggest concert in Austria, with more than 100,000 people attending!
First of all, I had to figure out how to reach the festival area. It was already too late to get a parking ticket and taking the train and bus route with thousands of AC/DC fans wasn’t really an option either. So I decided to drive my car to the next village and take a taxi from there to reach the concert venue.
Although I was there 5 hours before the show started, there was already a traffic jam on the highway where shuttle busses were ferrying AC/DC fans to the venue. I set up a time and a meeting point with their tour manager and we agreed I would give him a call when I arrived. This time, it seemed as if everything was going to work out well, but, all of a sudden, I realized that the cell phone signal in the area was non-existent. Too many people were using or trying to use their cell phones, so there was no chance of reaching him.
As I didn’t have backstage access, I had to find a way of solving this problem — and quickly!
These are the challenges you will face as a music photographer when working with bands. Learn to work with what you’ve got, because it’s already a huge privilege that bands allow you to shoot and work directly with them. A couple of minutes later, I was in the backstage area and finally met up with the guys.
The great thing about Vintage Trouble is that they are the friendliest guys I’ve ever met. I have a feeling that they are totally grateful for everything they get from life and love what they do, namely play awesome shows and make music. I was able to shoot in their backstage container and to shoot on-stage with them in front of 115,000 people!
I had already shot on-stage for The Prodigy and Shantel in front of 50,000 people, but this was an unreal situation and I guess the guys from Vintage Trouble were also a bit overwhelmed, playing such a large crowd. When I walked on-stage during the first song, I was blown away.
The funny thing is, when you’re working for bands on-stage, time flies and you just have to concentrate and do the best job you can. I wasn’t frightened or worried, but the adrenaline kick was a biggy, that’s for sure! Everything worked out (almost) perfectly and I’m quite proud of myself for accepting this challenge and getting some awesome shots.
About the author: Matthias Hombauer is a photographer of rockstars who is currently based in Vienna, Austria. He writes about photography at How to Become a Rockstar Photographer, where this article originally appeared.
Image credits: Photographs by Matthias Hombauer and used with permission