When it comes to being in-the-know in music scenes, photographers are some of the most connected, hardworking folks around, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a guy more liked and in demand by up-and-coming Oklahoma City bands than Doug Schwarz.
On any given night, you’re likely to spot him at shows, using his Nikons to capture all the energetic, crowd-surfing, cymbal-crashing, sweat-flinging moments musicians around town create. So it’s not a stretch for the guy to throw a big party for his birthday, dubbed Schwarzstock, featuring a slew of Oklahoma’s best bands.
Saturday marks Schwarzstock’s third incarnation, and we caught up with Schwarz himself to talk about it.
Gazette: Being a local rock photographer, just how easy is it for you to get bands to come play Schwarzstock?
Schwarz: It is actually not as easy as it might seem. It looked like we weren’t going to be able to get off the ground this year — it took all the bands a month to get back to us, and there were maybe five that I really wanted who couldn’t do it for their own reasons.
Gazette: This year’s bill is just a little bit scaled back from last year’s: 12 acts to 10. Any particular reason for that?
Schwarz: Actually, last year turned out to be only 11, due to the date being pushed back with the weather, so it wasn’t that big of a change. We also wanted more control over time.
Gazette: You’re on your third year running now. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from the previous two incarnations of Schwarzstock?
Schwarz: Communication. You might feel like everyone is on the same page, but if they aren’t, it’s going to bite you in the ass. This year has been all about communication.
Also if you are going to do something like this, charge for tickets. We haven’t the last two years and were relying on donations, I ended up at a personal loss in the thousands. Totally worth it, though.
Gazette: It being your birthday and your festival, will you be shooting it or enjoying yourself? Or maybe a little bit of both?
Schwarz: Last year was hard because there were people who were supposed to be helping me run the festival who were drunk by 7 p.m., and I ended up taking over multiple jobs, and had been up 48 hours, and when I retired after the last band played, I was apparently ridiculed for doing so.
But this year, I have friends and family who both have said they hated seeing me not be able to enjoy it as much as I should have been able to last year, and a lot of people have stepped forward to help.
Gazette: Craziest/most embarrassing thing that’s happened at a previous Schwarzstock?
Schwarz: Craziest thing was Moon and The Electric Primadonnas getting tons of people naked and body-painted up. Couldn’t believe how many naked people were walking around last year.
Most embarrassing? I don’t have anything embarrassing, but there was a fellow last year who was apparently a fifth wheel and nobody liked him because he kept trying to steal people’s beer. He ended being left out there, and he was from Stillwater.
Gazette: Anything else you’d like to add?
Schwarz: Sure. Come out, have fun, be safe, this year is our biggest year yet, and we have a lot of amazing acts who are sure to deliver!
Schwarzstock 2012 schedule:
• 5 p.m., Painted Wolfe
• 6 p.m., Junebug Spade
• 7 p.m., Skating Polly
• 8 p.m., The Wurly Birds
• 9 p.m., Feathered Rabbit
• 10 p.m., Shitty/Awesome
• 11 p.m., Saucy Gentlemen’s Club
• midnight, Horse Thief
• 1 a.m., The Gentle Art of Floating
• 2 a.m., Crystal Vision