"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." – Bob Marley

Rapper Chris Brown performs at the Summer Splash concert at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton.

This past weekend my earplugs got a workout when I shot the Summer Splash concert put on by radio station 97.7 KWIN at the Stockton Arena. Shooting the performers at these types events is relatively easy. Trying to maintain the proper color balance is a bit tough because the different and changing colored lights that are used. But enough light is thrown onto the stage that exposure isn’t a problem. For me the biggest challenge was enduring the staggering volume of sound that is produced.

The group Deepside performs at the Summer Splash concert at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton.

Just below the leading edge of the stage was the biggest bass speaker I’ve ever seen. It was about four feet tall, three feet deep and about thirty feet long. The stage itself was only about 50 feet wide, so to get a shot, there was almost no avoiding standing in front of it. Some of the performers even stepped down onto it and used it as a mini-stage. Photographers were allowed to shoot the first two songs of each performer before getting escorted backstage to wait for the next act. It’s a good thing too. The music was so loud, everything from my ribcage down to the floor and out to the audience suffered an acoustic barrage. My earplugs held, but just barely. I don’t know how¬† the people in the first row (about 4 feet away) survived. Me, let’s just say I’m glad I’ve already had my kids.

Hip hop music fans Andrea Delsied, 15, left, Mikalah Edmerson, 16, and Lisa Garcia, 15, all of Stockton move to the music at the Summer Splash concert.

The earplugs can be a double-edged sword, though. While they keep my ears from ringing, I can also hear things that might otherwise be drowned out by the music. One teenaged girl sang along with the songs at the top of her lungs, all off key. Another kept yelling to any male performer on stage, “take your shirt off!” You can only imagine how crazy she went when singer Lloyd actually did.

Singer Lloyd croons to the women in the crowd at the Summer Splash concert.

Speaking of Lloyd, the singer looked like a pre-surgery Michael Jackson. Dressed in a crisp white suit, red shirt and a white fedora, he looked like he’d be right at home on Jackson’s Off The Wall album. With his handsome good-looks, slick dance moves and fine singing voice, he conjured visions of a young Jackson at his start.

Audience members raise their lit cell phones into the air.

Back in the day, when the audience wanted to show their appreciation for the artist or call for an encore, they lifted lit Bic lighters into the air. At the arena, people opened their cell phones and raised them overhead. At one point Lloyd called for everyone to wave the phones in the air. I looked back an saw a sea of tiny blue-white screens.

Singer Paula DeAnda performs at the Summer Splash.

Being completely out of the radio station’s demographic, the only act I had even heard of was Paula DeAnda, and that’s only because she performed at Summer Splash last year which I also shot. The rest were completely unknown to me. That isn’t because of any kind of lack of popularity on their part, but rather evidence of my 40-something lack of knowledge of today’s pop culture.

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