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Diehards: Erin Feinberg’s Portraits of Music’s Most Intense Fans

The rock photographer takes us through some of the best shots from her new book

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

For the last decade, photographer Erin Feinberg has been jumping into mosh pits, balancing on barricades and spending hours in hot, sweaty parking lots, photographing fans from New York to Sweden. The best of those shots have been compiled in Diehards, her new book, and a few of her favorites appear in the following gallery, captioned with memories and observations from Feinberg's travels.

Below, read excerpts of the original Bruce Springsteen and Neil Peart essays that open and close the book:

Springsteen: "My band now has fans who've followed us for 35 years and for 35 days, who are 70 and 17. On our recent tour, I met kids who'd just seen us for the first time, along with folks who've been to hundreds of concerts over three decades. With the exception of age, they're more similar than different. And every night at eight o'clock, it's those faces jammed up to the front of the stage, smiling, singing, living every note of your song, their song, taking every breath with you, or dancing in the rafters that continue to fuel your rock & roll passion. A passion reaching all the way back now to the small bedroom where you sat young and alone, clumsily playing, singing, writing, hoping, dreaming of … this exact moment … of your fans."

Peart: "In a very real way, we, as performers, ought to bring everything we have to every show. It is also important to remember that people in the audience often bring everything they have, too. That is part of the reason why good ol’ Shakespeare was so right, 'All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.'"

Reporting by Katelyn Behrman

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Fans Screaming for Joan Jett, New Jersey

"I call that my Beatles shot, because to me that's such a Beatles moment: the screaming with the hands on the side of her face. It's just that front row euphoria.

Back then, you were allowed as a photographer to stand on the barricades and shoot over the crowd. I could just freely roam. It's harder to do that now. I couldn't have made this book now. There are too many rules and restrictions and everyone has a camera."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Young Fan Awaits Korn, New Jersey

"This is at the Mayhem Music Festival right before Korn headlined. I just sort of crouched down and got to his level and he gave me that look. He was just really intense. I really had a good time photographing the metal crowd because of that intensity they let it all out during the show."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

The Line for Gaga, New Jersey

"Those were Lady Gaga fans standing in line for a show in Newark. Her fans are just so nice, cool to be around and so happy. I loved the camaraderie among them."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Kiss Fans Prepare For a Show at Jones Beach, New York

"I remember being outside of a Kiss concert and watching everyone sort of prepare themselves for the show and put their makeup on and dress up like the members of the band, and it was so visually exciting for me that I couldn't stop photographing. And I remember that I thought, 'This is a whole culture.'

I actually met mini Kiss that day too. They're dwarves, and they're a cover band. They came in a limo. That was my first Kiss experience, actually, tailgating with the Kiss fans."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Tailgating Before a Phil Lesh Concert

"There's a whole show before the show at these gigs. Especially for the Deadheads, I think the experience of being around other fans and traveling together and setting up your car is almost as important as the actual concert. This guy was just hanging before Phil Lesh."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Wayne Coyne Floats Over His Audience, New York

"Part of his set in every show involves getting into this big inflatable balloon and walking over the audience. I can't believe he did it indoors. I had always seen him in festivals outside, and here I was like, 'Oh God! It’s going to pop! It’s going to hit someone and pop!' But he made it through."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Disturbed at Nassau Coliseum, New York

"I was just roaming in the crowd at Disturbed when that happened. I loved the silhouette and this happened right in front of me. So I snapped it! A classic, right?"

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

A Bad Religion Fan at Warped Tour

"I've always felt that black-and-white has a timeless quality to it. For me, the photos, regardless of if you were to take away the fashion and the haircut, would have the same feel and energy that you might have seen in the Fifties. So for me, black and white has this timeless quality.

In general, I don't listen to metal very much, but I really enjoy photographing the metal heads because there's just so much energy. They're so dynamic and I enjoyed watching that scene. But, I was spit on a few times at metal shows and I didn't enjoy that. It definitely is a different thing in the mosh pits. But I was fascinated by their passion, which was a different kind of passion then any other audience."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Keith Urban Hold Down the Front Row, Canada

"When there's an artist in the frame, I tried to keep it a little anonymous because it was more about the crowd and the energy. I didn't exactly want you to know what show it was and on what date. I just wanted people to get a sense of that energy and the passion involved. But you can pretty much figure it out if you know music."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Front Row at the Katy Perry Concert, New Jersey

"That was early on in Katy Perry's career when she was just breaking. I photographed her fans really early on. I don't think I have any photographs of the stage, but I got her fans!"

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Crowd-Surfing at the Warped Tour, New York

"I was obsessed with crowd surfers at the Warped tour because they just go for it. I ended up with a few bloody noses, a few broken pieces of equipment. I thought I had a concussion at one point — someone came down right on top of me and I hit the pavement pretty hard, but I was okay. I had to be taken to the paramedics at the music festival, but you know, it was worth it! You’ve got to be in it in order to really convey that feeling. You have to be inside of it."

Diehards

Erin Feinberg

Judas Priest Headbangers, New Jersey

"That's a woman. I kind of love that it's not gender specific. The Judas Priest fans were my favorite metal fans. They were so dedicated and loyal. They knew every word to every song. I loved them — just a bunch of headbangers. I think in the corner someone's being carried off or something. Maybe it was a casualty of some sort? But they're being carried off."

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