Contrary to what you might think, when you photograph a show you're not just there to photograph the band.
You're there to photograph the concert.
And a concert isn't just a band playing on a stage; the crowd is the other essential half of the equation!
Concert go-ers who either wait in line for hours or spend lots of money to get front row spots are usually more excited than others. Once you point your camera in their direction the only thing that could get them more excited about getting their picture taken is if the band members themselves were taking their photo. So TURN AROUND! (When you're in the pit, of course.)
A big excited crowd can make for some pretty epic shots; when I can I love using a fisheye lens to capture a crowd's moments of elation. And, depending on the show, you can have some pretty enthusiastic crowd surfers.
The lighting on the crowd depends on the venue and the show, but one thing remains constant: when the band addresses the crowd the house lights will come on (but usually only for a moment). Whether you're in the pit or in the crowd, be ready! Because that's also the time when fans will have the best expressions on their faces and/or their arms up in the air.
(Except for the girl on the left... sadly she just looks bored and unimpressed.)
Most of the time the folks right in front will always be caught in the stage lighting.
And if they ask you take a photo of them, take one!
I think this goes without saying, but if a band member goes up to greet the crowd, stands on the barricade, or even reaches out to touch fans' hands, get a good angle and press that shutter button CONSTANTLY. Or shoot in burst mode. Or both. Capturing a fan's reaction to touching one of their favorite musician's hands is so fun to watch because it's just such a happy moment.
Or how about singing into their microphone?
And, of course, at outdoor shows during the day getting good crowd shots is almost a piece of cake. Especially Warped Tour. No matter what kind of music you like, every music photographer should photograph Warped Tour AT LEAST once.
Although I must admit, sometimes I get so caught up in the show that I forget to turn around; or sometimes dealing with tricky lighting takes precedence over making sure I get that good crowd shot.
But if the crowd is good, excited, and big enough to where it doesn't look like a sad turnout, try and snap a photo!
Also, if it's allowed, go to the back of the crowd and get a few nice, wide shots. And again, wait for the lights to go up, if they do.
Do your research before the show to see if there might be any confetti or similar effects you can possibly capture.
Or something unexpected might even happen.
And, of course, at festivals there are several opportunities to take photos of fans only, outside the concert setting. If you're into that. Or, of course, if it's required by your publication.
Last but not least, if you post your photos on facebook you can get people to share, like, or tag themselves in your photos, increasing the word-of-mouth about you and your photography. Free marketing! Woo!
If I'm missing anything please feel free to add it in the comments below!