Music Fans Are Crazy

The Photo Blog
July 14 2014 11:53 AM

Music Fans Are Crazy

AF_Diehards_01
Fans screaming for Joan Jett, Englishtown, New Jersey.

Erin Feinberg

Erin Feinberg began her career photographing concerts as a way of getting to see her favorite musicians up close and for free. But as digital photography got more popular, photo pits became overcrowded and restrictions for photographers at shows became overbearing. “The creative freedom I once had photographing concerts was disappearing and so to make things interesting for myself I needed to find other ways to document the live music experience,” Feinberg said via email.

About a decade ago, Feinberg began turning her camera toward the other show at live performances—the activities of the sometimes weird, sometimes wild, but always joyous fans. Her photos of audiences from all over the world are now collected in the book, Diehards. “I just loved observing the excitement and joy surrounding a given show—everyone expresses it a little differently. While you are surrounded by complete strangers there is this unique bond that forms over the course of a show because, together, you are part of that show. It’s a shared experience that is so incredibly powerful,” she said.

AF_Diehards_18
James Taylor concert, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Erin Feinberg

AF_Diehards_23
Jimmy Buffet fans tailgating before show, Jones Beach, New York.

Erin Feinberg

AF_Diehards_06
KISS fans preparing before a show at Jones Beach, New York.

Erin Feinberg

AF_Diehards_32
Bob Dylan fan, Long Island, New York.

Erin Feinberg

Feinberg’s main challenge was getting access to enter the venues. When she was on assignment, she would shoot what she needed for her client and then spend the rest of the time photographing fans for her own personal archives. When she couldn’t get access to a particular show, she would have to find a way to sneak her camera in. “There was a lot of finagling over the years! Most event promoters and producers couldn’t understand why I’d be interested in photographing the audience over the performer, so it was often a struggle,” she said.

Advertisement

In the last 10 years, Feinberg has met fans of all different types of music. She felt the raw energy of mosh pits at heavy metal concerts, captured crowd surfers at punk concerts, and admired the scarily precise air drumming at Rush concerts. She also hung out at tailgates in parking lots with Parrotheads, or Jimmy Buffet fans. “They’d always feed me whatever they had on the grill, and they made me cocktails from their mobile tiki bars! They know how to have a good time,” she said. “The Parrotheads are kind of like Deadheads in that respect—the social ‘hang’ in and around the shows can be as important as the show itself. It’s a lifestyle!”

AF_Diehards_30
U2 fan with band-related tattoos covering his back, Long Island, New York.

Erin Feinberg

AF_Diehards_19
Judas Priest crowd, Holmdel, New Jersey.

Erin Feinberg

AF_Diehards_33
Young Elvis Presley fan, Memphis,Tennessee.

Erin Feinberg

Along the way, individual fans have left their mark on Feinberg’s memory, like the U2 fan whose back was covered with tattoos celebrating his favorite records, and the Bob Dylan fan who had a picture of the artist on her prosthetic leg. While many of her images are straightforward portraits of those fans, others capture people in candid, unexpected moments. “One of my favorite crowd moments was at a James Taylor concert. He has incredibly loyal, diehard fans, but he’s not exactly known for boisterous crowds—so when this girl climbed up on a man’s shoulders and screamed out towards the stage clasping her favorite record above her head, I grabbed my camera and framed the moment as quickly as possible,” she said.

While Feinberg’s black-and-white images often feel timeless, if she’d started her project today, her images would likely look a lot different, as the proliferation of cellphone cameras have increasingly changed the look and feel of live shows. “I can’t imagine how hard it must be for artists to perform in front of all those little bright lights and fight for some eye contact in the crowd,” she said. “I recently worked on a tour with a very popular country artist and each night I was just so perplexed —and irritated!—by the sea of cell phones out in the crowd. It was impossible for me to capture that thrill and radiance in the faces of his fans because all of those ‘personal vanity appliances’ were in the way,” she said.

AF_Diehards_11
Young punk fan at Warped Tour, Englishtown, New Jersey.

Erin Feinberg

AF_Diehards_16
Front row of a Katy Perry concert, Englishtown, New Jersey.

Erin Feinberg

AF_Diehards_08
Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips floats over his audience at Terminal 5, New York City.

Erin Feinberg

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Learns That Breaking Up a Country Is Hard to Do

Are You Attending the People’s Climate March? Nine Reasons You Should.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 19 2014 1:51 PM Meet the New Bosses How the Republicans would run the Senate.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Never Remember Anything
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.