The Atlanta photographer served as the MC of his own event.
You’ve probably seen a Gunner Stahl picture before. In the late 2010s, Stahl has become Atlanta’s go-to photographer, snapping photos of the city’s rap artists and the culture that defines them. 21 Savage, Future, Gucci Mane, Key!, Metro Boomin, Migos, Young Thug — the list goes on and on. He’s even expanded beyond Atlanta and taken pictures of Earl Sweatshirt, Mac DeMarco, Toro Y Moi, Tyler, the Creator, and others.
But Stahl’s pictures weren’t the focus of his event. As a part of the Red Bull LA Music Festival, Gunner Stahl & Friends was a celebration of the friendships the photographer has made along the way throughout his career, the creative stepping from behind the camera and hosting his first show ever.
The event, which took place at the Unnamed Warehouse, featured opening performances from Osh Kosh, Kenny Beats, and Cozy Boys, before Stahl took to the stage for the rest of the night. As fellow Atlanta DJ and producer Sushi Ceej dropped songs from A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, and others, Stahl brought out his special guests to perform brief sets. Considering the range of artists Stahl has shot, the uncertainty of who would pop onstage added to the thrill of the event. Ceej’s song selection only fueled fans’ speculation as he dropped tracks from artists the photographer has worked with.
But Stahl’s show, particularly the final last hour-and-a-half of it, was surprisingly lackluster and disorganized. He’d cryptically build anticipation for the artists that were about to take the stage, but rarely, if ever, properly introduced them when they started to perform. This created a disconnect and lessened the momentum he had built up for them. Only when Ceej started playing an artist’s song was when audience members finally were able to recognize who was onstage.
By the end of it all Stahl even seemed flustered, having Ceej start and stop tracks as he paced back and forth onstage, his guests hitting and leaving the stage abruptly. The most notable moment of this was with Rae Sremmurd. The duo served as the night’s last performers, playing several songs before the sound was cut off onstage, the event abiding by its call time of 10 p.m. PST.
Although Stahl had several other notable acts aside from Rae Sremmurd — Chief Keef, Key, Tisakorean, and Young Nudy also performed — the order in which they appeared also contributed to the disarray of the set. Tisakorean and Key were properly placed but Keef, Nudy, and Sremmurd weren’t. Considering the recent resurgence of Keef’s 2014 track “Faneto” from Back From the Dead 2, it would’ve made more sense to have Keef as either the headliner or before Sremmurd. Instead, the Chicago rapper performed before Nudy and Sremmurd, the momentum of his set — which included “Faneto,” as well as classics “Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa” — fueled out by the time Nudy took the stage.
Surely, the disorder of Stahl’s set wasn’t his fault and it was unfortunate to see an event with so much potential descend into disorder at its most important moment. If Stahl hosts another show in the future, hopefully it won’t be hindered by the same problems that plagued this one.