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Moshing: You Cannot Put A Price On Our Escapism

Our new weekly columnist James Matthews gets shit going with his first rant. This is Pipebombs & Tomfoolery!


Good tidings all!

Hope you are all well and sweet and sound on this stupidly humid July night (unless you live in Scotland), and that the summer is treating you well so far!

This is a new column which you will be seeing a lot more of weekly, about loads of stuff that is on my mind. Whether that be issues to do with the music industry, brief history lessons on different styles of music genres and backgrounds. Hell it could even be something totally unrelated and be put out there as a (hopefully) constructive yet vehement rant about absolutely anything. But you know, everyone has got to have a moan about something, right?

Anyway… in this first article, I would like to address some issues I have with all this silly bollocks stuff that I am seeing recently regarding the Vans Warped Tour ‘mosh ban’ situation, general mosh etiquette, and other stuff loosely based around these situations. but I am going to try and keep this as unbias as possible…

Now, on the 22nd June of this 13th year of the second millenium AD, one Mr Oliver Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon fame and notorious pouting, posted a tweet (that is cyber bollocks talk for posting something on Twitter if some of you do not know what that is, I personally hate the fucking thing) saying this in regards to an unofficially confirmed story that a 12 year old girl got hurt during their show at Vans Warped Tour, and was ready to sue the band, stating…

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 22.33.54
Quicker than a blink of an eye, an uproar escalated with the suggestion that Vans Warped Tour would ban all acts of moshing, walls of death, or crowdsurfing. I specifically was quite interested in the matter regarding this, due to a number of things I have been hearing about over the past couple of years in regards to clamping down on ‘crowd activity’.

Festival promoter Kevin Lyman was quick to respond via Twitter after a huge backlash stating on a couple of tweets:
If you do it fine if the bands do it they become responsible 4 all the injuries that occur, people do not take responsibility,” Lyman explains. “In America that leads to many lawsuits … I have been through many, no fun and costly.”

Essentially, what was being said was that although the art of moshing and all was not necessarily banned by any means, promoters encourage bands not to incite anything as such, due to the possibilities of lawsuits, and that fucking cancerous double-edged sword called ‘health & safety’.

Since this incident, there have been reports and confirmations that the band are not being sued, and that everything is now hunky dory. Sort of…

Now to any concert / festival goer, there are always these golden unwritten rules about the mosh pit that have just spanned the test of time, If you do not know these rules then click here to educate yourself further if you do not have a comprehensible understanding on the matter, it is a good ground to get yourself started on. But there is only one true rule that will rise above all… NO ONE GETS HURT, WE ARE ALL THERE FOR THE SAME REASONS.

But here is a couple of things that particularly grate on me in regards to this situation…

1. What the fucking hell was a kid of 12 years old doing in a pit that can knowingly get as frantic as BMTH?!
Now although there are different styles of mosh pits in different genres, Bring Me The Horizon do attract a lot of excitable younger people who will be a lot more dangerous at these types of shows because of ‘crowd surges’. That is when pandemonium breaks out, and you literally cannot move. It is worse than getting kicked in the teeth or taking a blow to the head, but when you got a crowd of people surging, you better brace yourself.

But anyway… most restrictions on shows (particularly in the UK) recommend that if you are 14 or under, you NEED to be accompanied by an adult. Which is all fair enough really. Standard procedure.

But come on now… I call shenanigans on bad parenting! Hell, if I had a kid of that age and took them to a show in the name of good parenting, I would most definitely make sure they would know what they are getting themselves in to and make sure they enjoy the show like they should. Any person with a bit of common sense would do that.

But for some morons to go ahead and sue the band, or the promoter because their kid gets hurt in a pit unsupervised?! YOU ONLY HAVE YOURSELF TO BLAME, STOP TRYING TO PROFIT FROM OUR ESCAPISM. That is like deciding that it would be an absolutely astute idea to throw your 5 year old son in the middle of the pit for Agnostic Front on his first ever show, in other words… absolute sheer madness.

2. Moshing is a natural form of expression, why capitalize?
The first time I heard anything about clampdowns on crowd activity due to health & safety regulations, or the possibilities of ‘lawsuits’ was among some previous discussions had with band members of established UK groups over the period of the past couple of years at Download and Sonisphere Festivals. There is apparently a contracted rule which is set in stone that bands are not to encourage moshing, walls of death, etc, or they will face fines or a reduction in their guaranteed fee.

Now whilst I personally have no concrete evidence of this other than what has been said previously, I have been staggered at how often this topic of conversation has come up. Now with all due respect to the festival promoters, this is not a dig at them by any means. But it just seems to me that even though (as every self-respecting promoter should know) that the safety of their punters is absolutely vital, and they proceed to go through every possible avenue to ensure our safety whilst being their guests.

Additionally, without the barricades (for the much bigger stages), security (who actually know what they are doing and are aware of their surroundings and crowds), and persistent medics on site at events as grand as these, it would be a totally different experience. So with that in mind, thankyou for putting our safety priority and helping to avert nasty situations. You do a great job (98% of the time) in order to make that happen, so kudos!

HOWEVER… with all this talk about lawsuits in terms of suing bands and promoters because people get hurt in the pit, or bands would encourage a perfectly natural act which regularly occurs in heavier music crowds, in this day and age is a new fad for tactically sneaky people to make a move on an expression and escapism, in order to capitalize  and make a few extra quid to make sure they are well off?
Whatever the case maybe, I am not entirely sure… but if anyone could educate us on this legal matter, then please speak up and let us all learn. But it is very fucking concerning that the prospect of a loophole to which it is now possible to sue promoters and bands because of mosh pit injuries, is more realistic than ever.

In terms of a brief history lesson, moshing has been going on for decades. Whilst there is no definitive origin, it can be traced back to the mid-1970’s in the US and UK punk movements. Over time other styles of moshing and aggressive dancing was more evident in the rise of hardcore punk  in the early 1980’s at the live shows of bands such as DOA, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, and Minor Threat.

But the first time that moshing was ever brought in to the public consciousness is even more of a surprise…

You remember the actor and comedian John Belushi, right? Well if you don’t, you bloody well should. He was one of the greatest American actors of his time, and he was punk as fuck. Well in a nutshell, he basically got LA punk rock band Fear on Saturday Night Live on Halloween of 1981. What resulted was the first visual evidence of the nature of these kind of things which were merely but an underground legend. The response was one of awe and sheer terror among the naive public.

Since then over the course of time, the art of moshing and its alternative activities has progressed and evolved in to many new different techniques and has been a staple to live shows of alternative genres live environment ever since then. But more importantly, NO ONE GETS HURT. Everyone looks out for each other and no matter what happens, if you fall down someone will pick you back up. For a few hours on nights like these, you have an external family who will look after each other and go with (predominantly) the same intentions to just escape and have a great time.

But you know… sometimes, unfortunately you do get the odd asshole who has no regard for people’s safety and does intentionally hurt someone. But they usually get dealt with.
But on the other hand… there is this act called ‘crowd killing’ that seems to have sprung up in recent years. Personally speaking, I think you are a fucking idiot if you get involved in that shit. The first time I saw something like that was when I saw Desolated just over a year ago. Now usually at these kinds of shows, there will be injuries and occasionally people do get hurt.
However, when someone intentionally kicks and punches people who are on the outside of the pit watching and enjoying what is going on, and that person happens to hit the wrong person (who could be a hardnut paramilitary fella, you never know)… then you are in for one serious beating of a lifetime.

I mean I think Desolated are cool as there is so no personal dig towards them by any means, but at the same time there are some people attending these kind of shows who are the ‘crowd killers’ just have no fucking clue what they could  get themselves in to. Like check these examples of videos out below from a couple of incidents at Desolated and Crowd Deterrent shows (one being an official music video)…

It is different if the entire crowd are friends with each other and they ALL know what is going to go down, they are aware of the dangers of the ‘crowd kill’ and all that, and it seems quite a friendly environment. So in that respect, all for it. Get wild.
But at the same time, you are going to get some people in that crowd who have no idea what the fuck they are going to get themselves in to, and that is not on.

Hell, even that is a double edged sword in itself really isn’t it! But at the same time, if there is an escalation of ‘crowd killing’, then I can definitely see there being a few hefty lawsuits and kick ins in the future. But at the same time, it is all down to the individuals who do also get in to the pit as well, they should KNOW what they are getting themselves in to.

We as a community, or an external family wish to have no fatalities in the pit by any means, as that is where everyone is allowed to express themselves and live for the moment.

So… the morals of this particular rant?

Know what you are getting yourself in to when entering the pit, and follow the unspoken rules!
If you are that parent who has no idea of what you are letting your kid in to when it comes to the pit / crowd, and contemplate suing a band / promoter… then get a fucking reality check and educate yourselves before having a pop at us. If you are tight on money as the rest of us, and fancy a bark up the wrong tree, then be prepared to be bitten.
Crowd killing? Nah mate, hitting people for fun will not be a way to boost your ego or machismo. You are not Razor Ramon, you are a Grade A shitcunt.

But more positive yet pivotal note, let me end this with a small lyrical excerpt from the song ‘Pride (Times Are Changing)’ by Madball. Let it serve you well as a mantra of the pit…

I know my family is there for me, and without them where the hell would I be?

Remember, you got a family in the pit as well as home. Just provide the knowledge and well being to others to make them feel welcome and knowledgeable in their temporary surroundings. Knowledge is power, after all!

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