Joseph Szabo 'Rolling Stones Fans' Exhibition

Joseph Szabo 'Rolling Stones Fans' Exhibition
The Chelsea-based Michael Hoppen Gallery is now showing an online exhibition on its website by veteran American photographer Joseph Szabo. A short reel of 19 black-and-white photos, the collection sets out to portray the experience of fans at a 1978 Rolling Stones concert at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium.
In exploring the gamut of raw emotion associated with adolescence in true Szabo-esque style, he manages to successfully capture the simple, pure reality of young fans enjoying a performance by one of the 20th century’s most seminal bands.
Joseph Szabo, Bump (1978)

Although documenting a subject matter that has been shot, idealised, packaged up and sold-on manifold times in the years since the Stones’ heyday, Szabo’s collection manages to bring something original to the table. Photos of the youth of the ‘60s and ‘70s usually tend to be heavily-stylised depictions of the epoch’s most beautified bohemians, caught in a pose most suiting to portray the generational stereotype of free-loving, post-modern liberation. And in doing so, they perpetuated a myth that at least has one leg to stand on.

Joseph Szabo, Salute (1978)
A few of Szabo’s photos do capture that same essence, rendering the free-wheeling, hope-filled, epicurean energy that is typically the associated with the youth of the day. But the collection delves deeper, grounding that essence in the reality of gritty human imperfection. Some of the photos show a darker side of that youthful hedonism, picturing fans in catatonic states of drug intoxication that was certainly a grim omnipresent reality. But they portray more a feeling of numbing escapism rather than the one of mind-expanding experimentalism that is usually associated the drug-taking of the time.
Joseph Szabo, Smoking (1978)

Another earthing element to the collection is the simple variety of youths represented - from soft, soul-searching bohemians; to libertine, aggressive-looking rockers; to innocent, geeky Jagger-devotees. All are caught in the purity of their temporary existence: an iconic pose, a drug-induced stupor, a bashful dance or a vivacious whirling dervish of inexplicable, joyful self-expression.

In capturing the very real experience of the very real fans in a completely observational, non-judgemental way, Szabo succeeds in grounding the myth of an age and transmitting the eternal reality of youthful music-induced exuberance: change the clothes and the haircuts, and it could easily be a Kings of Leon concert at Glastonbury.

See the full exhibition here.
All images courtesy of Joseph Szabo and the Michael Hoppen Gallery.