I went to a show with my friend Derek on Saturday. Thrice, Circa Survive and Pelican played at the Roseland in Portland. Before I get into the show, I have to mention that this venue has a metal detector and security searches before entering. I have never had to walk through a metal detector before going to a show. This made me feel more nervous rather than safe…what kind of people were going to be at this show? Murderers? Yikes.
Now, I generally listen to “coffee shop music” pretty mellow, acoustic music. I recently got the new Thrice album, The Alchemy Index. I like it, the mellow songs more than the heavy ones of course, but I’m still a fan. I would place them on the periphery of my musical taste. Anyhow, it was a great show, and it’s been a while since I’ve been to a show where every member on the stage wildly jumps and thrashes around while playing their instrument with the ease of brushing one’s teeth. Where the lead singer jumps around almost monkey-like, slapping his hands on the floor and slamming the microphone to the stage at the end of the performance…a different kind of show than I'm used to... We lucked out and scored spots in the balcony section, where we could sit and still see perfectly with a birds eye view to the show. I couldn’t help but notice out of the corner of my eye, the crowd. In the middle towards the back, occasionally a circle would open up and a mosh pit would form.
Now, I need help understanding the whole concept of mosh pits. I was fascinated by this circle. Young guys, scrawny and brawny would launch themselves into each other, using other people for extra momentum. Slamming into each other, challenging each other, I saw one guy, who was shirtless at this point, throw his arms in the air and yell. It was as if he was king of the hill for a moment, before another guy slammed into him. The whole circle would come and go. Sometimes I looked over and there they were. Other times, I looked over and nothing, just watching the show…How do they know when to mosh and when not to mosh? Sometimes, they would leave the mosh pit via crowd-surfing toward the stage.
One last thing, I saw at least five shoes thrown at the stage, sometimes hitting stage equipment. I’ve never seen that. Is that an attack on the band, like throwing tomatoes or something?
…I decided to look up moshing on wikipedia and wikihow. Here are the main points I got from it.
-Moshing (and a mosh) refers to the activity in which audience members at live music performances aggressively push or slam into each other. Moshing is frequently accompanied by stage diving, crowd surfing, and headbanging.
-If you crowd surf, keep your feet raised. Hitting people in the head with your shoes will guarantee removal of one or both of your shoes which will then be flung towards the stage with maximum velocity, rendering you shoeless for the rest of the gig/day/festival weekend.
-"Slingshot" into the sides by using another person's momentum to launch you.
-"Crowd surfing"-At most concerts and festivals the crowd surfer will be passed towards a barrier in front of the stage by the crowd, where they will be pulled off and put onto their feet by the security stewards. Then, they will be sent back to the side or rear of the crowd at the end of the barrier or they may be ejected from the venue.
-"Falling" Lift that person and make sure they are not hurt. They will probably just laugh and thank you before joining back in or stepping out but if they are hurt (which isn't as likely as one would think given the normal goers of metal shows recognize the metal brotherhood for what it is and will try not to hurt another.) contact someone working in the venue and maybe signal to some people around you, chances are they will gladly assist. This could possibly be the most important rule of all, you must pick up a falling mosher at all times.
-"The Lift Up" If someone is hurt but no one will move to let them out of the crowd (which is common at larger festival pit & crowds), ask the people around you to lift the person up and body surf them to the front so security can help them out. Make sure to ask if it's okay first though as getting lifted freaks some people out at first.
While, I will probably steer clear of mosh pits for fear of injury or death. I feel better knowing there is proper mosh pit etiquette and courtesy.