If you have ever been to a metal, punk or even rock show there is a very good chance you’ve moshed. And if you’ve been to enough you’ve probably seen a mosh pit turn sour.
Every time I’ve seen a friendly mosh pit get busy, young men are the ones chucking elbows while everyone around them are just trying to have a good time. Is there a weird masculine identity crisis in the live music scene? Even if this is the case, sucker punching some random at a gig isn’t the best way to prove you’re the toughest bloke in the world.
Most punk, hard-core and metal fans aren’t particularly big people anyways so it’s really nothing special.
It’s not hard to keep a mosh fun and the pit isn’t a dick-measuring contest, so why are so many dipshits still acting like it is?
I was recently at a gig at Brighton Up Bar watching Crocodylus and Top Lip when the night took a turn for the argy-bargy. What started out as pure vibes turned into a bunch of dudes just punching each other and no longer listening to the music.
There are ways for a group of guys in their 20s to and kick a gig up a notch. None of them are shoving the shit out of each other and knocking people over who are still buzzing off the music.
Bands have noticed this as well. I spoke with Otto Wicks-Green, guitarist for Sydney post punk band SleepMakesWaves, who thinks faux masculinity is playing a large role in the violent nature of pits.
“Over the  years we’ve played 100% its men being the dickheads. It’s a weird masculine thing to fuck up a gig.”
“There are guys who are pretty ripped coming to these gigs throwing punches and kicking people. It almost looks like something out of Kill Bill at times.”
Strangely enough we tend to think punk gigs and hard-core gigs are meant to get out of control. Some bands love this, Dune Rats and The Bennies are definitely two acts that encourage their fans go crazy. But this doesn’t mean that you have to be a dickhead clocking fans in the head and Otto knows this better than most.
“We want people to feel safe at our shows but also they can have a fun time, have a heap of beers and stuff but we would totally stop a show if we saw something really unsafe.”
It wasn’t alcohol and drugs fuelling the aggressive male mosh behaviour at the show at Brighton up Bar these dudes were just looking to shove and tackle people because that’s what they thought moshing is.
“It definitely wasn’t the craziest one I’ve seen but you could definitely notice the shoving and kicking happening and it took some people by surprise.”
However, it could have been naivety that caused these young dudes to think they had to knock each other over to have a good time.
“Some of the reason why there are problems with mosh pits” Lachlan continues, “are because the people causing trouble aren’t regular gig goers and they don’t know how to behave at live shows. They hear punk and they think be a cunt.”
“Once at a Tired Lion gig I saw this skin head looking bloke just shoving and punching people all night. He even punched the manager of Tired Lion. It was a shame because it was a big gig for this venue in Mona Vale and people couldn’t feel comfortable with that guy there.”
When this type of violence and aggression comes into a gig the scene can suffer. People aren’t going to feel safe and interested in returning to see their favourite bands or check some new ones if they know they might get a wild haymaker to the back of the head. Otto shared my thoughts.
“DIY punk gigs are so important for the scene. But if the shows end in someone getting hurt people will stop going to them.”
I asked the licensee of Brighton Up Bar – who at this point in the saga was standing in the mosh with a security guard to try and make sure the guys hit them rather than other punters – why he was just standing there and not taking them aside. His response was “you have no idea. You weren’t here for Dune Rats years ago.”
So because people aren’t getting as beaten up as they were at gig years ago this kind of stuff is okay. We are just letting this shitty male behaviour continue. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of the hip and shoulder in the mosh. Shit I played AFL for 10 years – controlled violence can be oddly therapeutic. But if you’ve forgotten the band you came to see and just felt your fist crunch against the back of some poor girl’s skull, something needs to change.
If you are going to mosh at your next gig, be respectful, and this may sound batshit but you can still get loose, sweaty, drunk and rowdy without kicking the shit of someone. Bands don’t want you hurting people at their shows, no matter how big of a man it makes them feel. In the words of Lachlan Wyllie:
“If you going just to be a dickhead, fuck off! We don’t want you at our shows.”
Which I think sums it up better than anything else.
While you’re here, check out our feature on how to promote your band, featuring some sage advice from some of Australia’s best publicists.