Mega Producer gets by with a little help from his friends..

Thursday February 23rd, 2006

Skateboard P!!! Pharrell Williams concert with a couple buddies at the Arrowhead Pond. On the bill were of course Pharrell William, Bobby Valentino, Keisha Cole, Tierra Mari, and One.
I had to go through about 100 hoops to try to get some access to the event. I have never heard the company who is handling promotion for the concert event. I had to get send an application; send a letter and a business card. After I was approved, I was going through more hoops trying to get tickets and a photo pass. They would only allow one name attached to either the review tickets or photo pass. Too much trouble. I decided to get the photo pass and I made sure that I wasn’t going to taken to a holding area after the song allowance. I was assured I wasn’t going to be, yet when I was sent a photo release with the media rules; it stated photographers would be going to a holding area. I emailed the PR chick about it and didn’t hear from her. Oh well. Off to the Pond.
Picked up Leslie, and took her car to the Pond. I didn’t want to drive it but my car was acting up. The Escalade is a larger car than what I am used to driving and I had to be aware of the size and streets. The drive took about a good hour. Anaheim isn’t too far and traffic isn’t too bad. Just the merging of the 60 and 10 freeway to get on the 57 is horrible.

Got to the Pond, it wasn’t crowded at all since it was only 6. Got to the usual gate 6, checked my name, and parked. Headed into the North Eastern private entrance thingy and checked in. I didn’t have my tickets; tickets weren’t available until later an hour before doors opened. There was some VIP pre party thing going on and had to go to the other entrance. Before I got there, Ben was right behind me. I knew he was going to cover it and I haven’t spoke to him for awhile. We headed on to the other entrance and no one knew anything. The security guards didn’t have a list, the chicks checking people in didn’t know what was going on. It was ridiculous. They had a make shift red carpet with no flood lights, very unprofessional if you ask me.
We stood around trying to figure out what was going on. Security guard asking other people what was going on, someone that looked like he knew what he was doing asking someone else. It was much unorganized. Eventually one of the guards gave us little lanyards with no badges on them. Got to love that. After being dicked around for awhile, and standing there for like 10 mins. We decided just to go to the check in desk, tell them our names, flash our ID cards and get some wristband for the party. We already knew we were on the list, so it didn’t matter.

Took the elevator up to the third floor. I’ve never been up there and thought it was pretty awesome to see. Right when you get off the elevator, there is a Josh Groban concert photo to the left. I guess this is the level where they have all photos of the artists who has performed there. When I was outside waiting, I heard the Clipse going through sound check. When I was up on the third floor, Pharrell was. I went to check it out and it pretty cool to check out a sound check with no one in the audience.
Now to the VIP room which was towards the left, down the hall. It was kind of crackin I guess. There was a table full of Cold Stone cups in the right side of the room. The usual finger foods at the main table, Buffalo wings, fruit, cheeses, crackers, drinks and such. They had a DJ from K-Day tearing it up. Just chatted it up with Ben and seeing whats up with such. I noticed these two chicks, who were pretty cute. Gave me a little eye candy.
One of the chicks knew Ben, it ended up being Julio G from K-Day’s daughter and her cousin. What’s even funnier is that I noticed my homie Darry chillin. I haven’t seen him since High school and knew him since elementary school. I used to call his Deuce, well I still do. Just funny if you asked me. Small ass world and such. After chattering it up, headed off to the restroom and down to get my tickets. Section 209, Row D, Seats 5 and 6.
Not too bad, just headed back up to the VIP room. Chilled until it was over. People were dancing it up and enjoying the time. I was thinking weather or not if i should meet with whoever was in charge, and have them escort me back and forth to take photos, or just shoot from my seat. Ehh we shall see. I was thinking I would shoot where I was suppose to and go to my seat when escorted back.

After the VIP room was done, we decided to go to the service floor which pretty much is the backstage area. Walked around down there and there was nothing defining anything down there. We did pass by Pharrell dressing room and Robin Thicke’s. I saw another photographer by Tierra Mari dressing room and asked him what was cracking with him. He was totally lost too. I didn’t want to run into the publicist running the concert, and have her make me be escorted. Pretty much booked it out of there and went to our seats.
Saw the other photographers near the sound board. I went over and talked to Wild Don Lewis. He shoots for the LA Weekly, and asked him a few things about what was going on. Initially the photo allowance was 3 songs per artist but he said they changed it to 2 songs. I also asked him what the situation was, and they were seated in front of the soundboard and the publicist was sitting at the far end.
Headed to my seat and Tierra Mari was opening. I pulled out my camera and took a few shots. It kind of weird to be sitting in a seat with a 2 foot camera hover over the people sitting in front of you. The next act was O.N.E. Not too sure about them, at one point they had some big booty chick come out in booty shorts walking around on stage. Before that, I saw another photographer just walking around randomly. I was like, why isn’t anyone stopping him. I caught up with him, asked him what was going on and he was doing his own thing. So, I am going to do the same thing. I flashed my lanyard to the Pond security guard dudes and they left me in to the area in front of the stage behind the barricades. It wasn’t too much of a problem since there were other photographers there also.

Bobby Valentino was up next. It took awhile for him to come out. One of the other photographers told me he was taking long since he didn’t do a sound check. I felt bad talking to the photographer because I guess he was trying to talk to me when we were waiting outside to get in. I didn’t notice at all but I guess Ben and Leslie did. I didn’t mean to be a dick or whatever. While out there, rumors of Jay-Z showing up were in the air along with Snoop Dogg. Snoop Dogg is the typical suspect. Bobby was so not in tune, it sounded like crap big time. Shot my photos and hung out stage left. There were a lot of people chillin there but what you going to do. After Mr. Valentino was done, it headed into intermission. They weren’t allowing free access to the backstage area from the stage and had to take the elevator down. I have never been at the Pond without it being sold out and tonight was a little over half capacity. Whoever promoted the event did not do a very good job or Pharrell doesn’t have that much of a pull. Who knows?
Headed back to meet up with Leslie and Ben and then went to meet up with the girls from the VIP Room, Dominic and Doreen. Went down to staging/service area also known as the VIP area. Pharrell was chilling and the girls got a photo with him. He was sporting his Ice Cream clothing brand; the shoes, hat, shirt, letterman’s, and pants. The whole sha-bang.

I wanted the whole gang down there because a backstage view is a better and closer view. However the security and the so called fire marshal weren’t letting people to the sides of the stage. Of course I pleaded my case that I was taking photos and was allowed, however the others were not. Hung out until the next act and Tyrese was coming up to me and the door to the stage I was at. He was bitching about why he was coming through the door and not the other. I guess it’s understandable since everyone else was going through that door.
Ran out and took a few photos of him. People hate on him since he’s been all movies and not music much anymore. He had a chick on stage and pretty much groped her while she was sitting on stage. Nothing too special outta him.
Headed back to the back stage and hung with the girls. Met a dude from Dub magazine and saw Omarion heading out to the stage. I didn’t even catch Robin Thicke go to the stage and ran back out there. His first song was on Piano and it seems to have a lot more photographers in the area along with videographers. Those video guys were running into everyone and getting in shots. It was quite annoying.
No one was really following the songs. Robin was saying how his first album didn’t go anywhere. I don’t recall him back in the day but only heard of him when I downloaded a video and Pharrell was on the track. He recently was signed to Pharrell’s Star Trak record label and the beat is totally a Pharrell beat. The last song Thicke performed was “Wanna Love You Girl” and I expected Pharrell to pop out but he didn’t. Oh well.

Pharrell was up next. Went back backstage, nothing was going on really. Told the guards to let Ben to the side and they did. Now for Pharrell, that got everyone out of their seats. There was a chick in the front crying and she didn’t stop even after he was done.
Pharrell started off with “Can I Have it Like That,” went into one song I don’t remember and then into “Frontin” and then introduced the Clipse. The Clipse did their hits which was pretty tight. Reminded me when I saw them and Pharrell at Jimmy Kimmel. One of the tightest shit I saw during this event was when during one of the songs, Pharrell was air producing. Like instead of air guitar, he was acting he was on the drum machine and on some turn tables. It was soo tight, it went alogn with the song and just man so tight to see..
Omarion came out after to perform. I was surprised, I mean I saw him but didn’t think he was there for a reason. As I think about it, I think Pharrell did some beats for Omarion. He did his songs and his dance solos and such. Pharrell was chilling by the DJ and I tried to get his attention to shoot a pic.
The next guest was an oblivious one, Snoop Dogg. He didn’t come up until Pharrell introduced his Ice Cream Skate team which consisted of 2 dudes and his bro. Snoop came out with ice cream hoodie. That looked pretty damn tight. They did the usual “Drop it Like its Hot” and “Beautiful.” At this point, I was already damn tired and once I had my shots, I left towards the back. I did that prematurely because once I stepped foot back there, someone else was on stage and the audience went crazy.

It was friggin Nelly. I noticed Pharrell was looking back to the backstage a lot when he was up there with Snoop. Guess that’s why. What the hell was he doing here? I was totally caught off guard and was so hyped up from it. Some chick behind me kept on screaming, “Show us your girlls Nelly, show us!.” Annoying real fast, real quick. When i turned to look at her, that chick that was crying, was STILL crying. They went into “Play it Off,” it was soo tight to see. After that song, Pharrell put him on blast and had him perform “Hot in Herre.” You can tell Nelly was surprised but got into it quickly, then of course into “Grillz.” I haven’t heard much of the song but everyone is saying they hate it because it’s being played too much. I enjoyed the heck out of their performance and went back to the stage.
Met up with Ben and Nelly was running off, while lotta people were trying to take photos with him. It was a human traffic event back there. I looked over to Ben and was saying how Snoop had like 6 huge body guards on stage. I mean I understand it when it was his premiere, but on stage? Goodness. I noticed this dude in front of me look back and I could kinda tell what he was thinking. He was thinking, “This guy is an idiot.” Then I noticed it was Lil Fizz from B2K, what is he doing here? Guess he’s cousins with Omarion and is apart of his entourage. Walked pass Pharrell’s dressing room and the night was finally done.
Leslie and the girls were at their seats watching it from there since the Robin Thicke performance. As for Robin Thicke, the last name was familiar, I mean Alan Thicke from Growing Pains. I didn’t think a thing of it, until one of the security guards asked me and I didn’t know for sure. One of the event dudes confirmed it and was totally surprised.
Met up with Leslie, and left the place. It was barely 10 minutes after the show as done before we got to the car. Usually the exit from the parking would be a pain, but it was such a ease tonight. It was really really weird. Oh well. Headed home in record time, didn’t worry so much about the driving. Got some food and that was that.
You can have it like that….

About Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen is a Los Angeles based freelance photographer. Over the past six years, he has covered various concerts, movie premieres, red carpets, parties, and events. A southern California native, Anh attended UCLA and holds a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and a minor in Accounting. In addition to photography, he is currently pursuing his license as a CPA and hopes to go law school. Adding to his many interests, Anh also loves to cook and has worked as a line cook for Food Network's celebrity chef Scott Conant's restaurant, Scarpetta, in Beverly Hills.