When I heard Entertainment Weekly wanted me to go down to Dallas to spend a day shooting One Direction, I must say my first thought was “Who?”. If you find yourself asking the same question, then you must not be a teenage girl. But I quickly learned that One Direction is the latest British boy band sensation who had just debuted their first album at #1 in the US on the Billboard charts. Something no British act has ever done. Not the Beatles or Rolling Stones or anyone else you’ve heard of. Pretty impressive. So off to Dallas I went. When I arrived at the hotel at about midnight the night before, the first thing that seemed odd was the 30 or so teenage girls running around in the bushes in the parking lot and the state police guarding the entrance to the hotel. One Direction were in town for a fan appreciattion mini concert and autograph signing after a contest on Facebook to determine which city had the most fans. Dallas seems to have won and the event had to eventually be moved from a mall to the minor league ball park to accommodate the expected 10000 fans.
My assignment was to shadow the band all day and shoot whatever happened. A day in the life, if you will. I enjoy a nice day of taking pictures and have shot my fair share of concerts and live events. What I was not prepared for was the level of fan hysteria. Sure I’ve heard stories of screaming girls going back to Beatle mania, but does that kind of thing still happen? Well I can report that it most certainly does. And now the fans have Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to exponentially ratchet things up.
After sound check and some interviews in the locker room, the stadium was full and it was time to take the field. The picture above is the boys as they were about to walk out of the tunnel into the stadium and face the fans for their first real solo gig in America (they had only played the today show before this). It was a cool moment and I’m glad I was there to capture it. Thank you to their publicist Mike Navarra for helping make it happen. No matter what they do from here and how many other countless shows they will undoubtably play (Including being the musical guest on SNL tomorrow), there is only ever one first time.
What happened right after that picture as they walked past me onto the field can only be described as ear splitting. The girls (I only saw one boy and he was wearing a teletubby costume) erupted into an enormous collective scream that they then sustained for the rest of the hour long event. I’ve never heard anything like it and it was so high pitched and loud that my ears were actually cutting in and out at times. I’ve heard that screaming girls have set a decibel record at some venue beating out the previously loudest act, Mottorhead. I believe it. This is one of the many fan videos on YouTube, if you want the full experience. Here are a few of the shots from that day. You can also see some others on EW.com. I wish the boys the best of luck as they start out on their upcoming tour and thank you for letting me tag along.