Into Focus: Johnny Anguish’s rock photography installation opens tonight at the Verb
At most live music shows around town, Boston rock and roll photographer Johnny Anguish of Daykamp Music usually has his camera focused on the stage. Tonight at the Verb Hotel, the stage is set to showcase him.
Anguish’s work over a 15-year career will be on display at the rock-themed Fenway boutique hotel through April, following previous exhibitions of Boston’s musical past from photographers Allan Dines and JJ Gonson. The opening reception is tonight from 6 to 9 p.m., and is expected to spill over int the Verb’s restaurant space, Hojoko.
Anguish’s art installation provides a forum where local bands like Sidewalk Driver, The Organ Beats and Dirty Bangs are shown alongside legends like Slayer, Superchunk, and X. And when the installation wraps in the spring, many of the images will relocate to other areas of the Verb, including the guest rooms, next to other local music memorabilia and vintage cover designs from the Boston Phoenix.
“Nicole [Anguish] and I have done a couple of Daykamp Poster & Photo shows where we hang our respective works and have our favorite bands play,” Johnny Anguish tells Vanyaland. Those are tons of fun. We had just done one on Thanksgiving Eve at The Sinclair when Lauren [Recchia] at The Verb Hotel asked me if I’d be interested in hanging some photos at the hotel. I loved the idea, but wanted this to be a little different. I have a bunch of shots from national (international, even!) acts that I don’t always have a home for since Daykamp Music is so locally focused. I thought this would be a great opportunity to display some of those photos side-by-side with the bands I usually cover.
Anguish, a nominee in last year’s Boston Music Awards for Best Live Music Photographer, says the trick to consistency is treating all bands with the same reverence, whether they’re playing an arena or a dive bar in Somerville. “It’s the way I feel when I see the bands,” he adds. “I hope it comes across that way in the photos.”
One photo in the Verb installation captures this perfectly. It’s of since-departed metal band Motherboar during the 2012 Rock And Roll Rumble at T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge.
“I was in my usual spot right up front,” Anguish says. “The place was packed. I couldn’t move. Beer was flying. I was getting pushed and shoved all over the place. My camera was wrapped in a plastic bag. Basically, everything that should have made shooting a show miserable. It was wonderful. I don’t know if it was the most fun show I ever shot, but it’s up there.”