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Sometimes it’s easier to capture the essence of a rock act by photographing its fans instead. On a good night, bands might show real emotion onstage. But often, a concert is just one more night on the road for them. For lots of fans, though, a show is a once-in-a-lifetime (or at least once-in-a-year) opportunity to see their idols face-to-face. Those in the front row have usually waited in line since the wee hours of the morning to stake out their spot on the barricade, and some of them spend the entire show screaming out their devotion.

Atheist at Jaxx, July 10

Absu at Maryland Deathfest, Sonar, Baltimore, Jan. 15

Metallica at Verizon Center, Jan. 15

Lady GaGa at Landmark Theater, Richmond, Va., Sept. 28

Britney Spears, Verizon Center, March 24

Mates of State at Virgin Mobile FreeFest, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Aug. 30

Mudvayne at the National, Richmond, Va., March 6

Yo La Tengo at 9:30 Club, Sept. 17