Nick Bezzina – “Release The Crowd” (http://www.releasethecrowd.com/)
Spanning 5 Years, 5 countries and 11 unique festivals, “Release The Crowd” ‘….turns the camera away from the bands and captures the emotion of the crowd, that amorphous, vibrating creature with a thousand faces, revealing both the intensity that comes with letting go, as well as the close communities inside which fans can truly be themselves…’! An award winning Australian portrait and fine art photographer inspired by fringe cultures, experimentation and story telling, Bezzina, along with VICE AU journo Toby McCasker providing comments, have compiled this 80 tri-tone black and white portfolio through a Kickstarter campaign into a limited edition 140 page book. The festivals include Wacken (Germany), Download (UK), Sonisphere (UK), Bloodstock (UK), Hellfest (France), Primavera Music (Spain), Big Day Out (AU) and Soundwave (AU), and certainly capture the joy, stress and emotional overload of being part of the ‘crowd’, which on each of these special outings, becomes one comprised of thousands of individual bodies often acting together. As an attender of many a festival, I can attest to the euphoria he is trying to capture, given how festivals have mushroomed from being simple laid back events to lavish extravaganza communities, and going beyond that, a bonding of a fraternity or even a rite of passage especially for the younger generations brought up on metal genreisation. Still, I’m unclear as to whether Bezzina is a metaller at heart himself, but with his professional mindset, seems to have taken his perspective from safety the photo pit and the occasional foray into the masses accompanied by his photographer peers – only to rapidly retreat back into the sanity of the VIP Area – as I’ve witnessed many times? What seems to be lacking here is the actual journey: from the queues of hungry metallers building their emotions to finally being orgasmically released into the festival area or the off site camaraderie and hi-jinks on the camp sites long after the bands have departed to their hotels where the friendships, true social networking and honest relationship building take place – in my case seeing the same people year after year at different events even if almost never hearing from them during the rest of the year lol! Equally, I’m not sure whom the book is aimed at – whether being another example of Bezzina’s talent behind the lens or from bemused arty snobs in galleries who are certain to see as freaks what in truth are normal people while perhaps harboring an envy of not being able to indulge themselves – who knows? Still, at £35 a copy, I can’t help but feel that the most memorable and heartfelt photos are the ones instead captured by the crowd themselves – many with zero artistic merit, usually on crappy phones and often while drunk – perhaps someone should publish the best of these instead…?