I spent last Friday at Urban Music Festival in Austin, running the Austin360 Instagram account yet again to capture street style and live music photos. To be honest, I had never heard of the festival until I was asked to photograph it—despite it celebrating it's 13th year—and I couldn't help but feel like the lack of pre-coverage of the event might have had something to do with the fact that 90% of its attendees were Black.
So I was proud of the Statesman for its coverage and felt honored they trusted me to document the first evening of the festival, which was ostensibly dedicated to Draylen Mason—one of the victims of the Austin bombings. Dray was apparently a genius musician and a member of the Soul Tree Collective Band, a group of up and coming R&B artists who perform every year at the festival. Every aspect of the festival was undoubtedly dedicated to Dray—from the buttons that every one wore to the video played that celebrated his life as hundreds raised their flashlights to every single performance that seemed to be done in his honor.
It was weird to me to feel like one of the few members of the media who came out to cover the festival. Sure, there were others out with cameras, but after the fest I could only find coverage from the Statesman and Fox 7. A huge two-day music festival dedicated to someone who just died during a domestic terrorist attack strikes me as something incredibly newsworthy — where were the reporters?
Urban Music Festival has already ranked as my favorite festival to shoot this year and I'm sure it will stay up there. The day was a whole family affair and everyone I talked to was incredibly friendly and sweet to talk to. There were no hyper aggressive bros drunkenly hitting on me and folks were genuinely excited to have their photo taken (something that was sometimes hard to find during SXSW.) By the time En Vogue came on stage, the yard filled with chairs had turned into a huge dance party. Publications who opted to skip covering the fest missed out big time.
Just like I did for SXSW, I'm now going to share some of my favorite photos I shared on Austin360's Instagram.