Life on Tour: Soft Cushy Floor

January 14, 2010

Pat Graham is a professional photographer who lives in London. He has spent the last 20 years working primarily as a music photographer, traveling the world with touring bands. Pat continues to tour, documenting musicians, as well as shooting for commercial clients. In a piece for, Pat talk about the bounciest floor in Boulder.

It’s not always easy to get a great picture that sums up a concert’s atmosphere from the front of the stage, or even from the stage itself. On the last Modest Mouse tour the band played a concert in a field house in Boulder, Colorado. This place was different; it had a brilliant high ceiling and a running track in front of the stage. The floor had the texture of a hardened sponge, meaning the venue could double as a great place to see a show while getting a decent work-out in at the same time.


Modest Mouse took to the stage with their usual power. I positioned my self front and center in the pit at the front of the stage. Earlier on in the day I had taken a bunch of photos of the stage and lights coming through the windows and I really wanted to get that same feeling but with the band in the shot.


Being in between the crowd and the band, I could sense the excitement and anticipation of both, but it was way too dark for me to get any usable shots. I decided to stick around for a bit anyway; even photographers get lost in the music sometimes, so I just listened.

At one point Isaac asked the crowd if there were any runners in the audience. A few hands shot up. He then invited a guy up on stage to do some running while the band played a song. The guy didn’t look like a runner but he gave it his all as Isacc yelled “JOG! JOG!,” into the microphone, in perfect unison with the music. The crowd, at Isaac’s insistence joined in some chanting: “Soft cushy floor! Soft cushy floor!” The rest of the band played away brilliantly as usual.


I took this opportunity to grab some great shots. I hiked around the crowd, up some stairs, and through some doors, flashing my AA pass at security guards until I eventually made it to the back of the running track. Looking out it was like I was at an alien landing sight, with silhouettes and bright warm lights blasting from the center point.


I was blocked off from the back-centre of the room, which is where I really wanted to be. So I hopped over a chain and found my self in the perfect spot, surrounded by piles of twelve-foot high gymnastic mats. If I could bounce on these and get a good angle, I was sure I would get a phenomenal shot. If only.

I managed to climb up on to the mats and stabilize my camera with elbows to get the shot at the perfect angle. I got my picture of Modest Mouse giving an out-of-this-world performance as they always do, sprawled out on a makeshift gymnastic practice set. All in a day’s work.

PS: Pat’s first book of photography, ‘Silent Pictures,’ was released through NYC’s Akashic Books and can be ordered from His second book, ‘Instrument,’ is being published by Chronicle Books and is due for release in Spring 2011.

Comments (1)
  • margie that is so amazing how many things happen surprizing ducez love always your gurl margie Fri Feb 05, 2010
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