Yesterday, I went to a free concert at Seattle Center. It was the last concert in a weekly summer concert series hosted by a local radio station, featuring the best of local bands. It's usually a lot of fun. I say usually.
The band that played yesterday was folk-rock at best. In fact, all the bands that played weren't punk, or metal, or even hard rock. So would someone explain to me why there was a huge, seething mosh pit down towards the front, making it impossible for people further up the hill to see the band?
I am all for free expression and freedom of speech. And I cut my teeth going to punk rock shows in New York City -- Black Flag, Flipper, the Dead Kennedys, and English bands like the Clash. I'd go stand right down front in front of the stage every single show. It may have been tight and hot and sweaty, and the crowd might surge back and forth, but it was never anything like what I saw yesterday in even the worst circumstances.
Mosh pits are respectful of the other people in the audience and of the people in the pit. You watch out for others, you pick them up if they fall down. You don't try to start fights or drag people in. You don't fuck with the people down front (who in most cases got there way early in order to be there). And most important, mosh pits are NOT appropriate for every band or every type of music.
Audiences today however seem to have very little regard or respect for themselves or others. If they did, crowd surfing wouldn't exist. I'm tired of hearing girls complain that they got groped surfing -- what the hell did you THINK was going to happen??? I'm tired of assholes who arrive five minutes before the band comes onstage pushing and shoving and manhandling people out of their way to get to the front, when we've been there for hours. And I'm tired of the crash barrier being a survival of the fittest: if I'm enough of a fan to get on line 5 hours (or more) before the show, I'm entitled to be down front. I shouldn't have to be a large, obnoxious burly male in order to maintain my position.
If you want to mosh, here's a suggestion: go to the BACK of the venue, where you won't bother the people who are *really* there to hear and see the music. If you want to be down front, get there early like the rest of us. Don't crowd surf; it's stupid and tired already. And moshing in 1996 is an anachronism. You aren't 'punk' or 'alternative' or 'cutting edge' or I don't care what. You're stupid, inconsiderate and self-centered.
Bands are starting to speak out against moshing, and it's about time. The Smashing Pumpkins have been very forward in stating that they think it's stupid and out of place, and told stories about playing "Disarm" and looking out and seeing people crowdsurf and mosh. Ironically, it was at a SP show earlier this year that a girl died because of stupid idiot moshers. Other bands, from They Might Be Giants to Fugazi, have made it a policy to stop playing during a show if the crowd starts to mosh. It's about time, and I hope that more and more bands adopt this policy, or if not, move the damn mosh pit to the back. General admission down front isn't necessarily the best way to go. Put your fan club down front and you won't be short of an enthuiastic crowd. All you get with GA now is survival of the fittest -- not your loyal fans who have waited it out.
Our biggest fear is that someone will get seriously hurt or heaven forbid killed at a PJ concert. Eddie has strong feelings about the pit and surviving the front -- years ago, before I ever had the chance to see them, I remember listening to a boot and hearing him say at the end, "Thanks to those who survived the front". I wanted nothing more to be one of those people. I didn't realize what that was going to mean. Eddie obviously doesn't have a clue what the pit is like now. It's drastically different from what it was when he was one of the people down there. The band has had such trouble touring -- if something happened at one of their shows, I fear that it would stop them from touring ever again. Of course, not one of the dickheads down there ever thinks about that.
The best comment I ever heard about crowdsurfing was from Mike Watt in 1995: "Why do you do that?? If you want everybody to touch you, go outside and stand in the bathroom, and everybody who wants to touch you can go in there and do it. And don't say you're more punk rock than me, motherfucker."
letting off steam this month: caryn rose
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