My first time – N.E.R.D
Lokerse Feesten, 7/08/2009.
The day of my birthday ànd the day I decided to begin this project. I was nervous. I waited while hanging backstage. I managed to get a backstage pass through a friend of mine. But only for me. My other friends had to wait for me in the crowd. I clearly felt out of my place. When are they coming? Will I succeed? I tried to focus and convince myself that they are just normal people; they eat, shit en breath just like we do.
A van pulls up and I can literally feel the backstage area gasping for air. You could hear a needle drop on the floor. They are here. First the posse/entourage leaves the car, and then Pharrell Williams appears. He mùst be aware of the fact that everybody is staring like zombies. He seems relaxed, checking his blackberry and walks straight into the artist-village. So far nothing but a glimpse. The minute I saw somebody from the entourage leaving the artist village, I took all my courage and walked up to him. I stuttered nervously while introducing myself and asked the guy what my chances were to catch Pharrell Williams & Shae on polaroid. He looked at me funny, and said: “There is no way I can let you in the village, so I advise you to catch him on the run” and he left, doing what he is supposed to be doing. Catch him “on the run”? How am I supposed to do thàt? Stalk him?
Suddenly I see the bandmembers taking another road to the frontstage. They left the artist village from the back, not from the front, where all backstage members where waiting to see Pharrell Williams walk by. I started running to the spot I guessed they would pop out, and yessssur there he was. The ground was muddy and dirty and he smoothly manouvered his way towards the stairs that leads him to his stage, since he had clean spotless shoes on, he clearly did not want to stain them. My voice trembled while I hear myself asking: “Mr Williams, could you plèase pose for my polaroid…”. He looks up while screening me fastly and then his gigantic mean bodyguard yelled at me the following “NO POLAROIDS, HE’S GOT TO GO ON STAGE RIGHT NOW!!”. He looked at me like: “can’t argue with that, now can we?” and got on stage. Damn! No polaroid.
I started running to the front stage. Fuckkkk. The festival was pàcked. Impòssible to get to the frontrow. I decided to go backstage again and found a little corner between the stage and the public area were I could stay hoping they would see me, with my polaroid. I made a deal with the security, explaining them I needed to be as close as possible, since a polaroid camera can’t zoom, and a digital one can. They understood, and let me be at my safe spot. All of a sudden, Pharrell starts pulling people on stage…! Girls, boys, kids, he picked them out, to join the band with the rest of the song line-up and maybe join him for a dance while he was singing that he was “a dirty dog” just for you. Tempting. I started waiving with my polaroids. Felt kinda stupid, since nobody noticed. I pulled my leopard hoodie over my head and started waving the polaroid towards Shae. Halleluja, he noticed me, gives an OK-sign to the security and voilà I see myself taking the stairs from the frontstage.
Once I arrived on stage, I froze. I noticed a sea of humans screaming and yelling. I saw the bandmembers doing there thing only inches away from me. So what do I do now? The boy from the entourage I was talking to earlier knodded and said to me: “Well done! Now go and take your picture.” I was in awe by his response and replied: “What now? In the middle of the gig?” So I see myself walking on the middle of that gigantic stage, walking straight up to Pharrell Williams and making him clear to ‘strike a pose’ please… and he did, while the entire public was watching. I see myself jumping up and down like a 15 year old girl that got hir first kiss. Embarrassing.
I couldn’t believe I actually pulled it off, but while I see the colours of the picture coming through, I noticed it was blurry and well. I wasn’t happy with result. The show came towards an end and all the girls on stage were hugging, kissing, taking pictures of Pharrell Williams, most of them all on the same time.I waited politely, but I quickly noticed that politeness doesn’t really help as much. I asked him a second time, while he was busy giving attention to all those girls, but he was done posing, and wanted to get off stage. He told me: “Sorry baby, gotta go!” and off he went, in his tail at least eight girls, bandmembers, crewmembers, and the entourage guy again who was looking at me with a concerned ‘You again!’ face. There I was, Dazed & Confused. ‘Baby’? I was kind of intimidated. You know; girls, backstage, clichés,.. but, I had to continue my quest since I was not happy with the results.
I finally managed to get in the artist village through Baloji, a Belgian artist whom I promised to take pictures of him and his band. While I was taking the pictures I could see the N.E.R.D. trailer. Honest? I was too intimidated by seeing all the girls, and I chickened out to enter the trailer and ask for a third time. Also, I àlready felt like a stalker, wasn’t planning on feeding that feeling, and he said no the second time, remember?Suddenly, Pharrell leaves the trailer. He slowly watches me while I’m taking the final polaroids for Baloji’s band. He knodded politely and said: “Well, bye…” and walked towards the exit. I managed to squeeze a small ‘bye’ out of my throat while I froze. Again. Damn, Is this what people call ‘starstruck’? My thoughts were racing through my mind. Dare I to ask him a third time? But, it was allready too late. He had reached the exit of the village where a nervous crowd was already waiting and snapping pictures and screaming his name. I did notice how chill and polite he reacted to all the hysteria. I was impressed. He seems… nice.
I learned that taking a digital fan picture, while kissing the artist, is clearly much easier than making the artist pose – alone – for a polaroid. Oh well, I did succeed. Just not really how I wanted to. I’ll take a raincheck on N.E.R.D. Until the next polaroid. I hope.