The magic of music festivals: Lucia Graca Remedios takes us behind the scenes

Argentina-born, Toronto-raised photographer Lucia Graca Remedios has been hooked on music festivals ever since she attended her first — the 2003 edition of V Festival in Chelmsford, England, where she saw The Doves, The Roots and Kaiser Chiefs perform. “I had the best time and was just obsessed,” she says. “There’s something amazing about lying in a field and listening to soundcheck in a tent with all your mates.” Next came Glastonbury in 2003, from which there was no turning back. “It’s like a whole other universe that I couldn’t even begin to describe accurately,” she says.

Fortunately, these music festivals provide a unique opportunity in terms of portfolio building. With a speciality in music and performance photography, attending these events allowed Graca Remedios to shoot up to 50 bands in a single weekend, versus the one or two she would usually manage each week. And after running from stage to stage during the acts, she became fascinated with the eerily quiet aftermath, too. “At Glastonbury I would go to the Pyramid field after everyone had cleared out at at two or three in the morning. You see plastic cups, lost wellies, upturned mud and god knows what else,” she says. “It looked like a battleground.”

Glastonbury. Photograph by Lucia Graca Remedios

Glastonbury, Somerset, England, June 2010 • This photograph of Glastonbury remains one of Graca Remedios’s favourites. “People are leaving, looking a bit bleary-eyed, dragging themselves out of the festival site. The big installation arts are a bit dilapidated from the weekend and it really looks like an apocalypse.”

Graca Remedios started out studying at Montreal’s Concordia University specializing in fashion photography until she had an “aha” moment while travelling in Brazil when she realized music photography was the way to go. “I was like, ‘Why don’t I shoot bands? I go to gigs everyday anyway for fun,’” she explains. After switching her focus, she completed a Master’s degree in photojournalism at Westminster University in London before returning to Toronto, where she opened Analogue Gallery on Queen Street West in 2009, which relocated to a new home on Emerson Avenue this month. “I don’t think my profs knew what to make of me,” she says. “Most of the students had aspirations to be conflict-zone photographers, and there I was saying, ‘I want to photograph festivals!’” she says, laughing.

In terms of what Graca Remedios has left to photograph, The Rolling Stones and Beyoncé are on her bucket list. “All those big name acts have such visual shows so that’s a lot of fun to shoot,” she says. But she’s also enjoys turning her lens on the fans. “British crowds are known for going nuts, but I think Toronto is actually getting more like that,” she says of music-goers and the growth of music festivals in the city with Field Trip, Turf, Bestival, Ovo Fest, Digital Dreams and North by Northeast, to name a few. “People have always been passionate about music here, but they are being more physically demonstrative of that passion.”

Coachella. Photograph by Lucia Graca Remedios

Coachella, Los Angeles, April 2014 •
In terms of spectacles, Graca Remedios captured Coachella’s energy perfectly. “Arctic Fire closed the festival with confetti cannons. They basically went onto the crowd and played like a marching band for an hour after the set ended, and just kept going. You could hear them on the other side of the fences.”

This summer Graca Remedios hit Field Trip, Way Home festival, held north of Toronto in Oro-Medonte, Ont., and Montreal’s Osheaga, at which Radiohead headlined. But, having photographed the band five times already, she left the lens cap on and took the night to simply enjoy the music. 

The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of music festivals. Check out these top tickets happening this fall and winter

Pitchfork Paris
Grande Halle de La Villette, Paris
Oct. 27 to 29; Price: €120
The City of Lights is bumping for three days (and nights thanks to the official lineup of after-parties) with dance and pop-music faves like DJ Shadow, Explosions in the Sky, Bat for Lashes and M.I.A., making it impossible not to shake it.

Iceland Airwaves
Rejkjavik, Iceland multiple venues
Nov. 2 to 6; Price: 19.900 kr.
This citywide party is the biggest celebration of Icelandic music and also spotlights international heavy-hitters, which this year will include PJ Harvey, Of Monsters and Men, Santigold, Sigmund and Axel Flóvent.


Le Guess Who
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Nov. 10 to 13; Price: €125, 4-day pass
Curated by Wilko, Julia Holter, Savages and Suun, Le Guess Who features stellar international performances by the likes of Daniel Bachman, Beak, Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba in everything from churches to galleries and music venues.


Rise Festival
Les Deux Alpes, France
Dec. 10 to 17; Price: £199 for ticket and lift pass
After carving up the slopes, take your après ski to the next level with the dance-worthy beats of Artful Dodger, Dynamite MC, Seth Troxler and DJ Kano.


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