Occupy dallas march
I'm fascinated with how crowds of people sound, and while I'm always recording sports crowds I find protest and riot crowds to be the most unique and intriguing. There's an energy there that you can't fake, and I was certainly trolling around for some recordings after the Madison protests and the Vancouver riots happened - but to no avail.
Yesterday I was sitting around deciding whether to go record the Texas State Fair or to head downtown and record Occupy Dallas - a protest group that's formed locally in solidarity with Occupy Wallstreet.
After checking their blog, I found that Occupy Dallas was planning a march on Goldman Sachs and I decided that I'd opt for that because I didn't know how many big opportunities I would have to record a good protest locally and in a fairly safe manner.
After a little thought I decided against going full stealth for this one. I figured that there would be tons of media out there, both from within the protest and externally so I'd probably be fine with a proper mic pair up in the air. I loaded up my low profile rig that consists of a pair of Line Audio CM3s in ORTF inside of a Rode blimp recorded into a Sony PCM D50 - all packed into a messenger bag. I went with a gray shirt and blue jeans so as to not draw too much extra attention to myself though. No hat, no sunglasses.
The blog said that the march was scheduled for 1pm, and by the time I was packed and tested it was already 1:45ish, so instead of heading to the OD headquarters at city hall I went straight to the Goldman offices in uptown. Sure enough, there they were with a pretty large presence and the police holding a perimeter around them. I parked about a block up and became painfully aware of how much like a bomb my audio rig still looks. I must change that in the future.
After a few speeches and chants the event seemed wrapped up and the crowd started its march back downtown to city hall.
I made the decision that I hadn't recorded enough material yet and there was too much gold just walking away from me, so I loaded up and started walking with the group, having no idea what the route was or how far they would be headed. We ended up heading about 3 miles south and the march took about 30 minutes, with chants and cheers going on the whole way. It was a very parade like vibe, both serious and light hearted.
It was also a pure clinic on populist chants and callbacks. One of the leaders had them all loaded up and ready to go, and the group was right on with the responses.
There were times during the march when the group was spread out enough that it had overlapping chants going on at the front vs the back of the line. At other times the group was more bunched up and had the effect of sounding larger and more cohesive. Occasionally passing motorists would honk their horns and get cheers from the group.
By far the coolest audio event of the day was when the crowd marched under an interstate overpass. All of the sudden there was this incredible city reverb washing over the entire group. Everyone perceived it affected the tempo and intensity of the chants. I have a byte of that at the end of the soundcloud link above, and I have a little iphone video as well. You can hear how much it dries up once the group comes out from under the bridge.
Once everyone reached the base camp at city hall downtown everyone kind of settled in and took a break. I bought some ice cream from a palatero down there and after resting for a moment I walked back to my car along the same route as the march and listened to the recordings the whole way back.
In all I got about 45 minutes of great stuff. very little editing needed, and a heck of a good recording day. I'll save the state fair for Monday. :)