Photographer: John Bradley
Based in: Northern Virginia
So, when I think of epic shows, there are few that have ever matched the sheer mayhem of what I affectionately call Sonic’s Last Stand. Back in February of 2006, the lead singer of Common Enemy (Sonic) was packing his bags and heading to Florida for school and one of the last shows he played with Common Enemy was at The Warehouse Next Door. What began is a pretty exciting evening devolved into parts of the fucking roof literally being brought down as the band and the crowd practically skated, stomped, dove, and ran over the whole damn place.
Photographer: Samantha Marble
Based in: Brooklyn, NY
Mike IX Williams at Club Europa in Brooklyn, NY on October 26th, 2009:
This is the photo that started it all and is very special to me. It’s what sparked the obsession with photographing Eyehategod, it’s where I found my technique and its what got me shooting for Brooklyn Vegan like my pants were on fire for over a year. It was the first time I had been asked to shoot a band I was a huge fan of. It was the first time they had toured in recent years.
Photographer: Suren Karapetyan
Based in: NYC
I was looking through gigs upon gigs of photos that I could possibly pick for this little feature, and finally found seven I was happy with. It was difficult to pick photos that I likes and wanted to “show off,” and photos that actually had a great story behind them, like these below. What I was happy to discover was that these photographs really represent the different stages I went through in the roughly three years of photographing this growing scene here in New York City. From bands that I started going to see, to formats I started to use. As a whole, these Seven Stories more so chronicle, I’d say, the growing photographer and metal head in me.
Finally, three years after hearing about the “biggest metal party of the year”, I got the chance, the money and the friends to go with. I kept telling myself, “I’m going to go, but I will not bring my camera, I’m going to have fun and not shoot a damn thing!” What a lie!
Day one of Maryland Deathfest I bumped into my friend, Justina Villanueva (who also did this Seven Stories feature!), and I was explaining to her how much I was itching to shoot something. She said something along the lines of…”do it, get a disposable!”. I couldn’t resist and I did, I ended up buying three. I didn’t want to shoot bands though; I wanted to shoot the parking lot. Why? Partly due to inspiration from Heavy Metal Parking Lot and partly because there was just so much more fun happening back there underneath the shade of the highway than outside by the stages. I shot drunken metalheads cooking, eating, raising the invisible oranges, headbanging and of course drinking! I also caught the immense number of crust punks that come to this festival year after year to just hang out in the parking lot and drink bagged alcohol. Crusties are damn fascinating! I’m real happy with the entire set and it did real well on the Invisible Oranges website.
Photographer: Adam Murray
Based in: Los Angeles
I am going to do my best to refrain from plugging my friends’ bands and name-dropping all the righteous Metal Godz that I have met or befriended over the past few years. Let me instantly negate that statement by giving a special thanks to Martin Depedro and Scott Florance for all the help o’er the years with countless photo passes, exposure and transportation.
I have selected these pictures mainly for story-telling purposes. I do not think of these as being wholly representative of my body of work.
This was taken at one of the very first metal shows I ever shot, I think in early 2008. Harassor played the Mountain Bar with Annihilation Time and I don’t remember who else. I’ve been a photographer since age 16, and into metal since I first heard …And Justice For All when I was ten or eleven, but the two worlds had never collided until about 4 years ago. After getting home and seeing what I had shot that evening, a dark little hole opened up in my brain, and I knew from that point forward that it would only ever be filled by taking photographs of heavy metal. L.A. band Harassor has always held a special place in my heart for that reason, not to mention the fact that they kick bloody ass.
Photographer: Justina Villanueva
Based in: Weehawken, NJ
Spring, 2008. It’s my very first experience touring. We’re only a couple days in and I’ve already experienced what happens when a van breaks down in the middle of Ohio. I can vaguely remember the drive to Romeo, Michigan. Well, I remember then-Psyopus vocalist Harrison Christie losing his phone … in his shoe (to be fair, the boy practically wears clown shoes).
The single most important event of the day, however, was eating Caesar’s Pizza ($5 for a pie ain’t no joke). In the small city of Romeo, Fall Out Boy played earlier in the day. To Psyopus’ luck, a bunch of kids from that show came to see what was happening on their main street. As you can imagine, people who like Fall Out Boy don’t like music and really don’t give a shit about noodly avant-garde metal. Harrison wore the head to some kid’s chicken costume for a couple minutes, which wasn’t very funny in 2008 but is somehow hilarious today. To me, this photo really sums up that day and my initial experience with touring: passing time in small cities and living on cheap food.
Photographer: Joseph Towns
Based in: London
Towards the end of my final year of university, I managed to excuse myself from exam revision to go to this show, as the line-up was unmissable – Amenra, Dragged into Sunlight and Rwake. Recently joining the Neurot Recordings family, Amenra play with a stage setup fitting to their sound, playing in near total darkness. However this doesn’t make it easy to get live shots of them. Working here without a flash, I caught the end of someone else’s which I think made the shot come out quite well. I guess there’s a bit of luck involved in getting the picture you want sometimes.
Photographer: Hillarie Jason
Based in: Worcester, MA
The images below were all taken within the past year and convey the emotion that I try to capture in my photographs. My main focus when deciding which images to include here, was based on the image itself and the story it tells on it’s own and not how famous the band is or isn’t, or how well I know a band member. I am interested in images that communicate to everyone and not just those familiar with the specific bands or their music. Since photojournalism just isn’t my style, the feeling of what it’s like being there is what I am after. These photos are a mix of bigger name bands, local favorites, and newer or relatively unknown bands. To me, photographing live shows is about the experience and not necessarily about the notoriety of those playing. By treating every show the same way, I feel that I get much more interesting shots than I would otherwise.
Photographer: Kevin Hobbs
Based in: San Francisco
Photographer: Justine Murphy
Based in: Portland
Text by Nathan Carson
Justine Murphy is a wonder. I should know–she’s a very close friend of mine, and also the fine photographer who has documented my annual Fall Into Darkness festival for the last few years. We have a date to make a blog called NVRSTSFD wherein her photography and my music writing will collide. Thanks to Cvlt Nation for providing us this opportunity (read: kick in the ass) to get the ball rolling…
The following photos were all shot at our mutually beloved Berbati’s Pan. This Greek restaurant and elegantly grungy music club is in the heart of downtown Portland, OR and has played host to every incarnation of my “Into Darkness” festival to date. The sound and vibe at this place is my favorite in town, and I know Justine agrees. In fact, this is how and where we first met, thanks to her long weekend adventures down from Victoria, BC to attend the fest. (She lives here in Portland now.) In late 2010, Berbati’s closed its club after the owner Ted passed on. Some of the room was remodeled and sold to the ever-expanding Voodoo Donut empire. But Berbati’s restaurant continues to serve up fine downtown cuisine, and has now reopened its club side with a smaller capacity, and the same great stage and sound under the new and reverential name “Ted’s.”