The All-American Rejects : Portraits / by Liz Brown

Friday I got to the venue 2 hours early. I'm never early, but I was nervous as anything and wanted to make sure I was fed (at the mall next door) and changed (in the Barnes and Noble bathroom) and ready to shoot (by location scouting around the venue). Then I sat on the curb in the shade, in my giant bright silk shirt, and waited to be let inside. I texted: “I’m here; I’m the only one who looks like a 90’s grandparent vacationing in Florida and not a security person.”

Before I could even finish my LaCroix, I was ushered into the back of the building.

We decided to take photos inside, so everything you see here were locations I found with Mitch and Tyson in the first 5 minutes of entering the building. We hustled; they helped me with lighting (what gems of photo assistants) and we made it happen and I’m so proud of how these turned out. New motto: don’t make excuses; make art.

From there, my expectations for the rest of the weekend were low. I would go downstairs and wait in the lobby until the show began. I’d shoot AAR’s first three songs, watch the rest of the show, load up into my car, edit and sleep at my Airbnb, and begin again in the morning. I expected the weekend to be fun, but also a little lonely, living in my car, not knowing anyone, traveling through three cities.

But nothing happened as I expected.

We got done shooting early, and the fellows walked me back to the green room, offered me a drink, and we talked. And they went out of their way at the entirety of the weekend to make sure I had AC and wifi and water and food and somewhere to stay at night. Who is that kind to someone they met a day or two ago? Nothing was as I expected, but all of it was better. 

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm really grateful for kind humans. They were under no obligation to talk to me or befriend me at all, but they did. I left with new friends. 

I started the weekend with the words: thankful, hopeful, ready. And I think they ended the weekend well, too. I don’t know if this story is a beginning or an end, or both altogether, but I’m thankful, hopeful, and ready for whatever is next in my story. Thank you, Mitch, Chris, Tyson, Mike, and Nick, for welcoming me into your little framily for a weekend. You're good eggs and I'm grateful to have met you.