I remember my first mosh pit; Soundgarden, 1994, at the Verdun Auditorium, Montreal. I was 14 years old. Sure, I had no idea what to expect. Surrounded by enormous men with long hair, I was thinking, “What did I get myself into?” Soundgarden began their show with (of course) “Jesus Christ Pose” and the circle pit began. I fell; I was picked back up by a few awesome dudes, and brought to the side. I ended up sticking to the side for the rest of the show. That was my first experience. I gave it a shot, was helped when I was taken down, and kindly brought to the side to make sure I was not hurt. Today I have to ask, what happened?
I remember reading articles in former Montreal mags The Mirror, The Hour, and our local newspaper The Gazette about the “dangers” of mosh pits. These were stories of people getting ambushed, bodies getting crushed against fences at big festivals, and security doing their best to resolve these issues.
Luckily, for the most part at huge festivals, these things have improved drastically compared to back then. The unfortunate thing, however, is that if you are looking to check out a smaller show, there are not always barricaded areas for media personnel to do their jobs, and security has really, really lacked.
I experienced a brief ambush a few weeks ago at a Black Dahlia Murder show, during the set of one of my favourite hardcore bands, Harms Way. Three of these kids (what would be called ‘hardcore kids’) decided to start a fist fight as soon as Harms Way got on stage. Harms Way is an aggressive band. They’re music is brutal, their singer is huge and muscular; it definitely brings out the rage in some people. I get it. But for someone like me who was not even in the mosh pit (after my little Soundgarden experience, I choose to keep out of pits), these dudes decided to grab whoever was around and try to involve them in their fight, including myself and a few super tiny girls. A few scratches and bruises later, the security came in and took those guys away.
A few days later at an Atreyu show, Bucketlist photographer Stacy Basque got hit in the face while she was trying to do her job and take photos of the band. The person who hit her did not even look back and apologize, nor did security protect her. It is with some surprise that pits have definitely got a lot more violent, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get any better.
If there is no photo pit for media, and no barricades, there will be violence; some have had cameras punched in, faces punched in, or gotten bruised up as a result.
I am completely not against people wanting to have a good time in the pit. But if you’re going to do Kung Fu moves at a hardcore show, or if you’re going to grab people to push around, please be aware of your surroundings. Be cautious. STAY IN THE PIT. If you think I’m lame in bringing this up, you can have your little tantrum. I don’t really care. I’m just tired of people getting carried away in thinking that this is their chance to start a fight. Mosh pits are meant for people to enjoy the music in a physical way, with respect towards one another.
Written by Liz Imperiale
*edited by Kate Erickson