Thousands of sand-trampling Michael Franti fans yodeled feral at the night sky, some shin-deep in Kootenay Lake, as blinding rain pelted them and lightning spiderwebbed the night sky. It was Friday night and the dreadlocked headliner was nearing the climax of his set when things started to get supernatural.
“Fat, fat raindrops started coming and within minutes it went from heavy rain to this torrential deluge,” Argenta photographer Louis Bockner, who was shooting the Kaslo Jazz Etc Festival concert, told the Star.
“It got more and more intense. The wind was coming sideways and I was of two minds: one mind was thinking how beautiful it all was and how incredible the power of nature is, and the other mind was thinking about the destruction and mayhem that must be ensuing with the sound, the vendors, the camping.”
He looked down at his camera, which was advertised as being weather-sealed.
“I started to wonder what weather-sealing really means. But then you get lost in the moment, you put aside your rational mind of ‘am I about to lose my multi-thousand dollar camera to this’, and you look at Franti in the middle of the crowd all backlit by those stage lights and you just go for it anyway.”
Bockner fired away, drenched head to foot, and captured the moment the guitar-wielding musician triumphantly raised his arm to the night sky. The crowd was singing along, sloshing up and down with frenzied energy, surrounding Franti on all sides.
The way Bockner sees it: “To capture that moment seems worth it.”
The Kaslo Jazz Etc Festival has seen some memorable moments over the years—a bear was once shot on the grounds, for instance—and local residents remember each one based on these events.
The 2016 festival, it seems, will be remembered as “The one with the lightning storm”. And that has a lot to do with Bockner’s image, which has since been shared by Franti on Instagram and Facebook.
“From sunshine to thunderstorms — THANKS to the thousands of #Soulrockers who rocked with us through it all last night at Kaslo Jazz Festival!!! Thank you to Louis Bockner Photography for capturing it all!” Franti posted on Facebook, sharing a slideshow of his images.
The concert went on longer than organizers wanted, as Franti continued despite requests to shut things down.
“It all ended dramatically when this rain hit us and took out all the power for the #soundsystem. I tried to carry on leading the audience through some acapella versions of Imagine and Three Little Birds, until the lightning started hitting near by and the promoter called it a night due to safety,” Franti posted on Instagram.
“It did lead to some magical photos.”
Bockner’s been blown away by the response to those shots.
“Someone said to me ‘it went viral’, but I don’t know about that. I’d maybe call it ‘Kootenay viral’ because on the grander scheme it’s not the same, but I think it’s totally awesome.”
Bockner took Franti a print that night from his photo booth, where he had been taking pictures of festival-goers as part of his Community Futures-backed business, and the pair shared a moment backstage.
“Especially in a world where you’re constantly seeing these images online that get caught and have their moment in the sun—it feels great.”
He’s just disappointed he didn’t get the lightning.
“Can’t do it all, I guess.”