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Fred Pessaro // BBG’s favorite Live Music Photos of 2012 ———(that he took)

by Fred Pessaro // BBG

Svarttjern at Inferno Festival

Its been quite a ride for me personally and as a photographer in 2012. I’ve had the distinct honor to cover some of my favorite bands in the world this year, including legends and favorites that vary as widely as Morrissey (HERE), New Order (HERE), Autopsy (HERE and HERE), Godflesh (HERE), Dead Can Dance (HERE), Swans (HERE), Jesus & Mary Chain (HERE), Chain of Strength (HERE) and many many more.

But I’m also very interested in the new, and 2012 afforded me the ability to shoot great younger bands like Terrible Feelings (HERE), Whitehorse (HERE), White Lung (HERE), Milk Music (HERE), Nude Beach (HERE) and loads more. Its been a great year, and though I still have some shooting left in the tank for 2012, here are my favorites as of right now along with brief blurbs on why . We’ll start with the above photo….

Let’s be fair, shooting black metal bands can be sort of like cherry-picking. Theatricality is an understatement. That said, even though they weren’t my favorite black metal band during my trip to the Inferno Fest (that distinction goes to One Tail One Head), Svarttjern were the subject of my favorite photo.

Quicksand at Bowery Ballroom
While this isnt the most jaw-dropping photo, what lies between the lines really tells the story. The show was Quicksand‘s first reunion date in NYC, so there was an electricity in the air. The crowd could feel it, and I personally think that the band could feel it too. I got a sense of nervous tension coursing through the band as they went on stage, who were laser focused on delivering a good performance. This photo was taken about eight songs into their set when, I think, some of that nervous energy had subsided…. there’s Walter Schreifels kneeling and cracking a slight smile.

Pinkish Black at WIERD
Pinkish Black
I both love and loathe shooting at the infamous WIERD parties on Wednesday nights at Home Sweet Home. The bands that play the party are more often then not really great, but the lighting in the room is not very photo friendly a lot of the time and the DJ always blasts the fog into the room to create an eerie atmosphere (I’m guilty of doing the same thing when I DJed). On the other hand, that presents a challenge, which I always look forward to. With this shot of Texas duo Pinkish Black, I lucked out and got the perfect mix of light and fog, plus the fact that I got to see an incredible band play to such a small group of people. While I love that, it kind of feels like my little secret, this is a band that deserves so much more. See them if you can.

Gehenna at Acheron
The myth of Mike Cheese precedes him, and as such Gehenna’s live shows always contain a hint of danger. This was Gehenna’s first show in NYC in many years, and Gehenna had built up a considerable amount of anger capital in that hiatus.

Eyehategod at Saint Vitus
I’ve met Eyehategod on a few occasions, and that band is populated with a bunch of larger-than-life characters. Add to that the well known fact that the crew have gone through their share of ups and downs (Katrina, substance abuse), and that amounts to character in their faces as well. I love this shot of guitar deity Jimmy Bower because of seriousness of his pose, but also because I feel like I can see a bit of pain trickling out as he plays those cathartic and massive riffs.

Ceremony at Terminal 5
Ross Ferrar
Opinions vary on the efficacy of Ceremony, if there is one thing we can agree on, its that Ross Ferrar is an excellent frontman. Ferrar spends most of the show climbing on things, acting unhinged/generally insane, and being just plain… entertaining. I love this shot of Ross because to me it signifies a moment on stage when he catches his breath to look at the crowd and survey all of the damage he’s done.

Kvelertak at by:Larm
The scene is a giant Radio City Music Hall style theater in downtown Oslo called Folketeateret, home of a headlining set from infamous party-metal band Kvelertak. Ida Maria had just set down her Stratocaster to make way for Orange full-stacks after her by:Larm performance. With the flick of a distortion pedal, the peppy pop has been replaced by beer-guzzling rock n roll, and I feel like this shot captures what Kvelerak is about: wild, unruly and out-of control.

Morbid Angel at Maryland Death Fest
Morbid Angel
Morbid Angel’s return to the stage this year was, in the words of Ron Burgundy, “kind of a big deal.” So whenever that occasion strikes, you know that the stage will be littered with, what my friend refers to as, “stage potatoes.” In this case, Trey was surrounded by a cadre of scantily clad women that I just barely managed to capture in between a strobe. Psht, the life of a rock star.

Iceage at LPR
Iceage are punks. Luckily I snapped this one off quickly at LPR in July before the lead singer swatted away my camera. Its one of my favorite shots at one of my favorite shows by the Danish band, and I have seen (and shot) them several times.

Pick Your Side at A389
Pick Your Side
Jeff from Haymaker/Left for Dead brought his new project Pick Your Side to the US and despite the insanity involved with any pit he’s involved in, I luckily got this shot of him after knocking over the guitarist’s microphone. Two mics full of Canadian screaming in your face is definitely better than one.

M83 at Terminal 5
The M83 light show is nothing short of spectacular, much like the band’s live presence. In the above shot that I took at Terminal 5, I captured the band dancing during a breakdown in the song while the lights flared all around.

The Who at Barclays Center
The Who
It was an absolute honor and privilege to shoot one of my favorite bands  a few weeks ago. Pete Townshend is a legend, and I am glad that I was able to catch him in the middle of one of his patented windmills.

Feist at Pitchfork 2012
I am not a Feist apologist nor a Feist fan, but I am a fan of an energetic live show. While I would never throw on Feist as my background music while I do, you know, anything, girlfriend definitely knows her way around the stage and has some serious pipes. Here’s my favorite shot of Feist, commanding the crowd to bounce.

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