Review: 'Diehards' by Erin Feinberg

“Diehards,” Erin Feinberg’s touching new book of photographs of music fans, many of whom are captured in moments beyond words, offers little context. Mostly there are no names, places or dates — nothing but a T-shirt, tattoo, some face paint or a prosthetic limb (with a custom Dylan mural) to cue us in on who these diehards are diehard about. And that, flipping through the first time, was my literal-minded, music-geek reaction: I wanted to know who these people were, what they were listening to.


This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email. Click here to learn about joining Printers Row.


I had flipped right past the picture on this page, at the front of "Diehards." I don't want to know too much about it. If you can't pull yourself away from it long enough to read these words, understandable. You are looking at pure rapture. The girl on the left, hands at her head, singing or screaming, is having her mind blown. She's young, and if it wasn't for the buzz cut on the girl beside her (or the mohawk behind them), she could be listening to Elvis, the Beatles, Hendrix, Sonic Youth, Kanye.

The specifics are less important than what Feinberg recognizes — that perfectly guileless connection between a song and a fan. It's often at its most intense when the fan is young and open. Bruce Springsteen, who contributes a short essay, describes that moment eloquently as "a publicly disseminated secret you and your fans make one another." Feinberg, a freelance writer based in New York (Northwestern University graduate), gets this. She has been photographing audiences for a decade — "the other show," she calls it in her introduction. There are parking lot fans wearing denim and stoned faces, kids floating over mosh pits, Johnny Cash tattoos and Jimmy Buffett diehards on the roof of an RV. There's a wonderfully funny photo of a girl screaming while holding a picture of James Taylor's blase face. That photo also says everything I want to know about that scene.

As Rush drummer Neil Peart puts it in the book's afterword: Let's not forget "that people in the audience often bring everything they have, too."

Christopher Borrelli is a Tribune features reporter.

"Diehards"

By Erin Feinberg, Anthropy Arts, 123 pages, $50

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 'Great team effort' by joggers saves man in the lake

    'Great team effort' by joggers saves man in the lake

    During an early morning jog along Lake Michigan with his wife and children Tuesday, John Corba spotted a man struggling in the water nearly 30 yards from the shore.

  • Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    As a founding member of the Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann watched the world change from behind his drum kit, shoveling coal in the wildly tribal rhythm section as the Dead went from San Francisco underground curio to ground-breaking indie outfit, then progenitor of the improvisation-based rock...

  • Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    The three clichés that color every good rock star story is “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll." For the Grateful Dead, the trailblazing rock band known for its improvisational style, revelatory live shows and dedicated fanbase, there was that and so much more.

  • 10 best movies of 2015 so far

    10 best movies of 2015 so far

    The year’s half-over! How did that happen? No idea. With six months of a good year of movies in the books, let’s see how the Top 10 list is looking, with a quote from each respective review. Note: There are a few I’ve seen that I really like that haven’t yet opened in Chicago, and those aren’t...

  • If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    Nearly 5 million more Americans would qualify for overtime pay under new rules proposed Tuesday by the Obama administration, a long-anticipated move expected to affect a broad swath of salaried employees from store managers to social workers to restaurant shift supervisors.

  • Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Unlike previous summers, UniStaff is experiencing a spike in job applicants at its Little Village location, a trend the branch manager says is tied to the city's minimum wage increase to $10 per hour beginning Wednesday.

Comments
Loading