Tagged: Blackie Lawless

YouTube is your friend, not your enemy

“We are against YouTube. We don’t like it.”

Those words were uttered by a musician a while ago, and if there had been more time, I would have loved to discuss that further.

Every successful business spends a lot of time and money on understanding their customers. A band or an artist is most definitely a business – and a tough one to be in too. You need to understand the mentality of your customers, i.e the fans.

Unfortunately, many artists seem to be stuck in the 80’s and the 80’s way of thinking. It’s 2013 – the minute you choose to get your ass up on a stage, you will end up on YouTube – if you’re lucky. Even back in the hayday of the glorious movie stars in the 50’s and 60’s they knew that ALL publicity was GOOD publicity.  

You’ve got a crowd of a few hundred or a few thousand people with cellphones and built-in cams or little compact cameras with HD-video, in front of you. What’s the smartest thing to do? Thinking of it as a threat or using it to your own benefit? There is an old saying that goes – If you can’t beat them – Join them. 

Every smart artist nowadays will do the latter. Even those who were initially against YouTube have now realized that it’s a powerful marketing-tool. If you’re not on YouTube – you simply don’t exist.

The more videos a band has on that thing, the more popular they will seem, because nobody’s gonna waste time and effort filming and sharing a boring, uninteresting band. It’s a compliment that someone has taken time from their concert-experience, to share it with others.

Cause unlike records, a live-experience can’t be copied. You can’t distribute and share the feeling and the buzz of being in a crowd, that true live-experience that people pay tons of money for. The ONE thing that artists today actually CAN make money from, if they know how to do it properly.

So, a fan-filmed YouTube-video should be looked at as a PR-video for the NEXT show a band is gonna do. I’ve had people commenting or e-mailing on my videos, saying that the show I filmed looked so awesome that they’ve decided to go see the band when they’re playing in their town.

Being the one uploading live-vids, I’m not making ANY benefit from it whatsoever. I’ve not made as much as a penny doing that. But the bands – as much as they may be bitching about it (some of them) HAVE.

Most of them are probably even totally unaware of the two or three extra people that bought a ticket to their next show, based on a live clip they saw on YouTube. But those three people may be the ones telling THEIR friends about the kickass band they saw last night! That’s the way it works.

Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P) has always been against cameras at his shows. But a few years ago, at a press-conference at Sweden Rock Festival, he had to admit that there’s no point trying to fight it. Instead, he had chosen to subscribe to the Grateful Dead-way of thinking.

Now THERE’s an interesting band to take a look at from a marketing point of view.

There is too much to say about how they’ve profited BIG TIME on allowing fans to participate in the live-experience of the band. I suggest you Google it, it’s pretty interesting actually.

Grateful Dead were early pioneers of “how to let fans have your music for free and still make a profit”. They even let fans plug right into their soundboards.

To learn more – go check this out: http://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Lessons-Grateful-Dead-Business/dp/0470900520

What are some of the marketing lessons that businesses can learn from The Grateful Dead?
Brian: The fundamental assumption in almost every band’s business model was that they were going to make their money on album sales. The Grateful Dead rejected that assumption. Their fundamental business model was based on making money from the concerts.

Because of that change, there was a cascade of decisions that fell from that. For instance, each concert was completely unique night-after-night, so there was a strong incentive to see them for several nights in a row – this ultimately led to fans following them around the country.

In addition, they allowed their fans to make tapes of the concerts and freely spread them to their fansthe more concerts they played, the more tapes there were, the more people were exposed to the music, the more people paid for concert tickets.

David: The Grateful Dead let their audience define the Grateful Dead experience. Concerts were a happening, a destination where all 20,000 or more audience members were actually part of the experience.

Making fans an equal partner in a mutual journey, the Grateful Dead teaches us that our community defines who we are. In an era of instant communications on Twitter, blogs and the like, we learn that companies cannot force a mindset on their customers.

Not that I’m a big fan of the Grateful Dead, but they definitely knew what they were doing.

Going back to the musician who was saying that he didn’t like YouTube because he had no control over what was being distributed and he couldn’t edit it and such… That’s all just an ego-thing. I understand it, I don’t like people taking pics of me where I look goddamn awful, uploading it to their Facebooks and Instagrams. I have no control over that either. It’s a pain in the ass. But I’m not an artist who has chosen to be looked at/listened to.

If the bands think of YouTube as a threat because they have no control, I don’t see why they don’t simply TAKE control?!

Unless they give people an ALTERNATIVE, people will go to the “unofficial” material, cause there’s nothing else to choose from.

Why not bring someone on tour who’s good at filming and editing – who they can “control” – open a YouTube-channel called XXX On Tour 2013 – watch it here! And put good quality videos up there regularly?

Maybe even take a small fee for letting people download these good quality clips each day? I for one would prefer that anytime, to the crappy iPhone-videos with horrible audio that people upload on YouTube.

I’m far from a pro, but I feel that the least I can do for a band and their fans, is to provide videos with decent audio. At least as decent as you can get with the size and type of cameras you’re allowed to use without getting into trouble with security.

GRASPOP festival did a great thing last year – filming every day, then uploading it within 24 hours – great quality, multi-cam footage! Who’s gonna want to watch something that’s not as good, when there’s the real deal?!

My point is – instead of being uncomfortable with the evolution in social media, USE it wisely and let it work for you. I don’t see the point bitching about something when you’re not providing an alternative.

Being in a band today means you’re up against tough competition. The more you’re seen and heard, the more likely that you’re going to survive – it’s ALL about keeping your name and reputation alive.

YouTube is a big part of that.

Message to bands: Be creative and proactive – YouTube is your friend, not your enemy! :)

Interview nightmares!

It will be a quiet evening today. Things really happen very quickly in this fickle business…
An interview opportunity turned up only about a day ago and was supposed to take place here in Malmo this afternoon or evening.

The tour manager didn’t get back to me all day. But he finally explained why the whole thing fell through – in the last minute: The interviewee was sick and had to rest today, in order to perform scheduled duties tomorrow. An explanation and an apology is all I need. Everything OK, no prob.
Maybe sometimes it’s only a last minute excuse for something else, but that’s fine, as long as people don’t compromise my time.

Looking back, there have been a few interviews from hell. Artists that have only answered “yes” or “no” to everything, artists that got drunk, turned the interview into a circus, trashed the bar before passing out, artists who have flirted instead of doing their job, and well, a little bit of everything. ;P

Not only the artists, the people around them can be quite a pain in the ass too.

The first time I experienced it was back in 1990 when Alice Cooper was in Malmo and was staying at the SAS Royal Hotel. I had an interview scheduled and had booked a photographer as this was supposed to be a center spread. A professional photographer who charges by the hour. You don’t want to waste his time.

Alice’s assistant called me three or four times that day telling me that it WAS okay with the photo-session, then it wasn’t okay, then it was…and then it wasn’t.

I kept calling the photographer yes-no-yes-no... It was embarrassing and annoying. It all ended with this: I wasn’t allowed to bring a photographer, but was welcome to do the interview on my own.

Thank god I brought my own little simple camera – and then asked the assistant to take a pic of Alice and me. It wasn’t a good shot, but it’s the ONLY one from THAT particular meeting. I’ll never forget the drama though!

[Alice Cooper in his hotel room at SAS Radisson, 1990]

A similar thing happened with Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P) in the beginning of 2000 when W.A.S.P played in Malmo. My cellphone kept ringing off the hook that day. Blackie would do the interview. Blackie was not going to do the interview. Blackie WAS going to…. oh, geeez! The last thing I heard was that Blackie was fine with doing the interview and I was welcome to the venue at five o’clock or whatever it was, right after sound check.

I got there, set up my recorder, prepared my questions… I looked up, and in walks… Stet Howland (the drummer)!??

They sent STET to do the interview instead of Blackie – cause “the man” had decided to go and TAKE A NAP on the bus…. *sigh* Don’t get me wrong, Stet is a funny and a nice guy, but you want to know who you will be talking to BEFORE you get there.

Or Pete Steele – Type O Negative (RIP) he acted like a rock star diva at first. He did the interview alright, and it was a really good and interesting one by the way, but then he suddenly decided that he didn’t want to do the photo session. And the photographer was already on her way to the venue with all her studio equipment…!

But then, when she started taking pics of the other guys in the band, Pete got curious and walked  over to check it out. He ended up getting so into it that it took hours before the photo session was done! Killer, killer photos! Wish I had a few of them….

Then there was Ville Valo, HIM-frontman. The first interview I did with him, he was great. Interesting conversation, very polite and all that… The SECOND time, maybe one or two years later, his attitude sucked..!

When I got there, Ville and the drummer were…not exactly sitting, more hanging, in their chairs looking bored before I had even as much as said hello. Oh, lovely… Didn’t matter what I asked, they just didn’t want to talk. Instead, they would give deliberately stupid answers or laugh at eachother’s jokes.

I was pissed off. We both have a job to do, why waste my time if they weren’t going to do theirs?! Got even worse when the photographer tried to take a pic of Ville. He had some beanie on his head that he had pulled so far down his face that his eyes barely showed.

She asked if he could remove it. His response was: “No!” So she asked if he could maybe lift it up slightly. He went: “No” then she asked if he could maybe look up a bit at least. He barely felt like doing that. She managed to take one – maybe two pics before he just got up and walked out of the room! WTF?!

Oh and by the way – I didn’t write a word about HIM after that. Total waste of time.

[Ville from the first interview, maybe a year earlier. Nice guy, good interview. Things can certainly change quickly]

Shortly thereafter, same venue – interview scheduled with German band Helloween. The guy I was about to interview was at the venue, but didn’t show until 2 hours too late. His excuse? He had to “take a shower”…. Must be the cleanest rock star in the business…

Mike Monroe – oh my god. This is a long story but the “worst” one yet. :) The photographer and I were working on a book project in collaboration with Sweden Rock Magazine many years ago, and Mike Monroe and Andy McCoy were to be featured in the book.

The photo session was supposed to take place at Savoy hotel – photographer had managed to negotiate an hour in a very old and cool part of this hotel’s restaurant, before they opened that day. When Mike didn’t show, I went to the hotel down the street to find out what was going on.

It didn’t take so long for Mike to come downstairs but…when he realized that there was a photo shoot involved (that was the most important part of the whole interview!) he disappeared back to his room, stating that in THAT case, he needed to fix his makeup.

It took FOREVER for him to get back and the clock was ticking… the location wouldn’t be available for much longer. Once he got there and did the shoot – he did a brilliant job I can’t say anything about that. He was an absolute pro in that respect. But then, before leaving, he climbed into an antique grandfather clock from the early 1800’s, causing us to get banned from the hotel because of it…

He and Andy wanted to eat “before the interivew” and asked if there was good Indian food somewhere nearby. There was only ONE, and a pretty expensive one, since it’s right in the tourist district… Neither me or the photographer had counted on anything like that, and we were both pretty much broke.

[Don’t take these guys to a restaurant if you’re short on cash…]

I ordered a soda. Mike and Andy (and Mike’s girlfriend) ordered starters, entrees, dessert, drinks –everything on the menu, well, not far from it. The table was FULL of plates and glasses. The interview? Well…. He said “ask whatever...” while eating, so it was an unusual scenario but he wasn’t really in the mood for an intrerview and I got some stupid or very short answers. Funny, cause I had spoken w. Mike the year before and THEN he had been really cool.

Anyway… Suddenly, Mike takes his napkin, wipes his mouth, gets up and says: “Thanks! Bye!”

Andy and the girlfriend followed him, left the restaurant…and left us with the bill! That bill was as long as my ARM! We didn’t have money for representation and this had not been in the plans at all.

The magazine, of course, didn’t want to pay for it, the record company said they had nothing to do with that and the management said they knew nothing about a restaurant visit. So, we emptied our pockets and used our credit cards to the last penny we had. And the interview hadn’t even been worth it….

Oh – and I’ve STILL got that receipt as a souvenir! 

Interviews don’t always turn out as planned. But I guess that if they did, I wouldn’t have all this stuff to look back on – in the rearview mirror. ;)

 

 

I made it to W.A.S.P – 30 Years Of Thunder at HMV Forum in London!

W.A.S.P played in London, the same day that I arrived last night, and I had no idea…! This is what happened:

During my lunch break, I logged into my Facebook account and accidentally saw it – “30 Years of Thunder” so I clicked on it and realized that it was in London, and uuuuh, I was on my way there for the 50 Years of Marshall-thing.

I went to Ticketmaster to check times, tickets, prices…. Only to find out that the whole thing was sold out. What?! I haven’t heard of a sold out show in ages! But I decided to go to the venue anyway, there’s always someone outside selling tickets, I might get lucky.

Then, while I was killing time at the airport later that evening, I got a message from Jon Oliva’s former drum tech, who had noticed my status update: “Say hello to Chris from me!”

That’s when it hit me, I probably knew someone on this W.A.S.P-tour. Chris, I never thought of that. Last time I saw him he was out with Doro, but yes he was with W.A.S.P a few years ago too, now that someone mentioned it.

I didn’t have his contact info, so I thought it didn’t matter, if I managed to get into the show, I’d go and say hello to him, always good to see a familiar face!

And then – while I was standing in line to board the plane, it dawned on me that my friend “Mommypig”, Oliva’s former tour manager, knew Chris. So I texted her to ask if she knew how I could get in touch with him, because the W.A.S.P show was sold out and I was on my way over to London.

She said she’d see what she could do and get back to me. I received her last text seconds before takeoff when we had to switch off “all electronic equipment”! :)

By the time I landed in London, two hours later, there was a text when I switched on my phone again: “Guest list is confirmed for you. Have fun!”

I could have hugged the WORLD at that point, was so relieved and so happy! 

So now, the race was on to make it to the show on time. Thank god for GOOGLE! I had printed directions so I raced through the airport, one of those “excuse-me-excuse me-excuse meee!”-sort of zig-zag walks and got on the Stansted Express within minutes, a combination of luck and determination.

After a train ride and two subway changes, and a walk, I finally got to the venue. All sweaty after the run, I checked in at the guest list booth. The girl smiled and said “Hello Daniela, yes you’re on the list, welcome!”

I MADE IT!!

The Beatles-song “With a Little Help From My Friends” came to mind. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the lucky circumstances and good friends. The place was PACKED and I mean….PACCCKKKEDDD!!!

I couldn’t see shit, I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know where the stage was, all I could see was PEOPLE and beers everywhere. I finally located the stage. I’m not kidding when I say that there was no spot a-n-y-w-h-e-r-e in there that didn’t have someone standing there, forget the usual “I’ll just squeeze my way through”. No way you could squeeze in anywhere.

I wanted to say hi to Chris but he saw me and shook his head, to let me know he had no chance in hell to communicate, it was nuts over at the merch as well.

Well, I don’t know if some high rock’n’roll forces like me or what, but I had ended up behind a bunch of really tall guys and suddenly they all left to go get more beer – and I found myself standing right behind the wheelchair section with a perfect view!! :)) And nobody pushing me. I heard angel choirs at that point – “hallelujah!”

And so the show began. Oh my GOD. W.A.S.P has always been a brilliant live-band. I’ve seen them many many times through the years and they always deliver, you can be sure of that. I don’t even care if Blackie is “helping things along” nowadays with pre-recorded vocals here and there, as long as it’s nicely done, I don’t care.

It was like a machine gun just shooting out all the hits that we love, one after another, framed by this really cool stage set, three big screens showing the classic videos in the background while the band was performing the songs live.

I was happy to hear one of my favorites, the old ballad from the first album “Sleeping In The Fire”.But you got all the other stuff too, I Wanna Be Somebody, Forever Free, The Idol, Blind In Texas, The Torture Never Stops, Hellion – whe whole razzamanazz! :))

The crowd was in ecstasy, the guy next to me was crying! During the short break, before “part two” of the show continued, he told a girl standing next to him that he had had a tough childhood and when he was 15 he heard “The Idol” which changed his whole life and he kept telling her that he owes W.A.S.P so much for turning his life into something positive with their music. Wow, that was amazing. And then you have religious nuts telling people that heavy metal kills. I would say that in more cases it saves.

Anyway, the show was packed with explosive energy where all you remember is Blackie’s intense, piercing look and Duda’s bass-pirouettes – accompanied by Mike Dupke’s KILLER drums and the cool riffs from Doug and his blinking and spinning special guitars. But then they went onto the more dark and gloomy side of W.A.S.P where you had to watch and listen to political and religious messages and watch really depressing videos on the screens (from the crimson idol story). I don’t know, it totally killed the mood.

People even started leaving. I can see why Blackie doesn’t want to live in the past and I understand that he wants to show where he’s at now as a person and an artist, but on a Friday night in London, in a packed arena, it might not be the most perfect time or place for that. People wanted classic W.A.S.P, not be reminded of the shitty reality of things. Music to many people, including me, is escapism. You just want a bit of fun during the one or two hours that you spend in a sweaty crowd. 

Anyway, after maybe 20 minutes of gloom (good music, intelligent thought behind it all, don’t get me wrong, it just simply didn’t fit into the party-setting) they finally turned the heat back on.

When W.A.S.P is good – they aren’t just good, they are… outstanding. Kicks everybody’s ass. 

I’m so glad I heard about this gig in the last minute, I guess that piece of crap Facebook-thing can be good for something sometimes. :)

I waited till the place had cleared, to say hi to Chris. He was totally drained. “This is only the beginning, we don’t get off the road until December…!” I could tell that it was good business but also VERY demanding.

Was good to see him, I left HMV Forum to grab a cab back to my hotel at Wembley. Today it’s GUITAR HERO TIME! 

It’s almost unreal, I can’t believe that I’ll get to see Yngwie AND Paul Gilbert, two of my absolute favorites, on the same stage, the same evening! A moment in music history, for sure!

Stick around for more!

(took a few simple phone pics last night but this piece of shit hotel Wi-Fi doesn’t allow any uploads so…. later!)

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You don’t have to be stupid to rock!

Rockers have often been brushed off as stupid airheads with nothing in their heads but chicks and parties. You know – bad vocabulary, bad choices, not much to contribute with. Kind of like these guys:

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But after almost 25 years in the business, interviewing more bands and artists than I can even remember, it hit me that I’ve rarely thought of anyone as “stupid”. Some have formal educations, some are street smart, and some are just naturally intelligent. You don’t always have to be a rocket scientist to be smart. Very few have been total airheads actually. 

Then I started digging into it. You’d be surprised how many rockers you’ll find that have fancy titles and impressive degrees to brag with.

Brian May (Queen) for instance… PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College in London. He began working on it 30 years prior to completing it in 2007, but got sidetracked when Queen hit the big-time. Apparently its never too late to finish what you started…!

Offspring’s Dexter Holland: He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, both from the University of Southern California.

Phillip Taylor Kramer (Iron Butterfly) earned a college degree in aerospace engineering.

Rage Against the Machine‘s Zach DeLaRocha has a PhD in Anthropology from UC Irvine and RATM Guitarist Tom Morello is a Harvard Graduate. 

Frank Zappa is widely considered to be one of the most intelligent musicians ever, with a reported 172 IQ.

Then of course, there’s Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden). Where do you even BEGIN with that guy?!

He has been a top fencer, written two novels. Left school with A-levels in English, History and Economics, competed internationally in fencing, placing 7th in Great Britain, and has founded a fencing equipment company under the brand name “Duellist”

According to Wikipedia: Due to the wide variety of Dickinson’s pursuits, the Winter 2009 edition of Intelligent Life named him as a living example of a polymath.(=a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas)
He regularly flew Boeing 757s in his role as captain for the now-defunct UK charter airline Astraeus, which, as of 16 September 2010, employed him as Marketing Director.
 

Then you’ve got a guy like Gene Simmons (Kiss). As much as people might want to label him an idiot with stupid makeup, spandex, platform boots and fake blood, he’s definitely not an airhead. Well, us rockers know that, but the general public might not know it. Or maybe they do now, after seeing him on TV….

In 1970 he graduated from Richmond College with a degree in education and four languages- English, German, Hungarian and Hebrew. Not to mention his clever head for business.

Marilyn Manson has a degree in journalism and a background as Associate Editor at Fort Lauderdale’s 25th Parallel Magazine.

Dokken-guitarist Jon Levin is an attorney, who actually handled Dokken’s business until he filled the position as a guitarist instead in 2004.

[Jon Levin]

Greg Graffin of Bad Religion has a double major in geology and anthropology, he went on to get a Master’s degree at UCLA and then a PhD at Cornell University. He can reasonably be called Dr. Graffin, PhD of zoology and lead singer of Bad Religion. 

One of the guys who most people would probably brush off as an idiot is the “drag-queen” Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. But most of us who have seen and heard his speech in the US Senate (1985) know that Dee is anything but stupid. He proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that you should never ever underestimate anyone or judge a book by its cover.

There are plenty of examples, Alice Cooper had gained admission into the University of Arizona, University of Colorado and University of California-Davis – he declined all these offers.

Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P has always been interesting to interview, because he is incredibly intelligent. Listen to any interview you can find online and you’ll see what I mean. He might be slightly… unpredictable at times but once you get into a conversation with him, you know he can be thrown in to discuss anything with any academic. Same goes for Dave Mustaine (Megadeth).

You see these rock stars on stage in crazy clothes, makeup, decapitating themselves, drinking blood, using profanity and what not – and you’ll mistake them for brainless idiots. It’s just so far from the truth. Maybe Vince Neil doesn’t exactly strike me as a brainac, but thank god there are others out there who will show the world that metal isn’t for idiots – it’s for thinking people.

Well…. maybe not always… Angus Young is still wearing his school-uniform and guys like this probably should! :-)

 

SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL – MEMORIES #2

Like I said in the last Sweden Rock Memories-post, there is a LOT more where that came from.
I found a whole bunch of photos and videos that I thought I’d share with you.

This one, for instance, is a classic…! It’s from Sweden Rock Festival 2006.
Venom had just finished their set and they had actually left the stage maybe 10-15 minutes before this was filmed. THIS Venom-fan apparently never even noticed that. He was TOTALLY into his headbanging, whether or not it was accompanied by the soothing sounds of…Venom:

Or this – Skid Row were doing a spontaneous photo-shoot outside the press-tent. They were actually posing for the photographer when I walked by and Scotti just walked out of the group-shot cause he was so happy to see me…! :-)
These guys are really like old friends, we “grew up together”. I met them for the first time in 1989, we were all in our early 20’s and our careers had just begun. I love them, the most wonderful guys one could imagine:

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Rachel Bolan on stage before the show:

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So what else have we got here….  On stage during Lita Ford’s set. Jon Oliva’s Pain played that year, I think it was 2009, and their dressing rooms were right next to Lita’s.

Since JOP’s bassplayer Kevin is a good friend, he knows that I am a HUGE Lita-fan (well, check out the URL for this blog “lita77777” – guess where the “lita” part comes from ;-)). So, he just grabbed me by the hand and pretty much dragged me up on stage during her show.

There I was, as close as I’ll ever be during a Lita Ford-concert. :) Thank you Kevin, one of those things that will definitely stay in my memory for a long time! :)

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Matt LaPorte (R.I.P…) Oliva’s lead guitarist wating for showtime and Kevin Rothney (bass) walking up on (Festival-)stage:

Kevin behind the stage, about to go up there and rock people’s asses off:

Jon Oliva’s tour manager Anett on the stage during early sound check:

And why not a few clips from some of the press conferences…. there is just so much more, I need to find all that stuff – press conferences with Ronnie Dio, Sebastian Bach, Heart…. Every band that’s ever had a press conference at Sweden Rock Festival… Well, pretty much. It’s all here somewhere.

Judas Priest-short clip from 2008:

Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P):

 

And just some random photos of artists, fans, stage area, backstage area and just other…stuff!
Guest pass (for Alice Cooper), typical Sweden Rock fans, Spike (Quireboys), Suzi Quatro, backstage-bar, stage (Heaven and Hell), Meatloaf, Nightwish, Wilson-sisters of Heart, Judas Priest, Dio, Sebastian Bach, Rudy Sarzo…

And a few snapshots from the camping-, food-, and merch areas taken by my friend Beatrice in 2005 (I think, might have been 2004):