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Moshing

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Moshing

Moshing
Audience members at a concert moshing in front of the stage
Genre Hardcore punk dance
Inventor Fans of hardcore punk, heavy metal, ska punk, rock, punk rock
Year Early 1980s–present
Place of origin Orange County and Los Angeles, California
Related topics
A crowd of moshing fans.

Moshing, or slamdancing, is a style of dance where participants push or slam into each other. It is usually associated with “aggressive” music genres, such as hardcore punk and numerous styles of heavy metal. It is primarily done to live music, although it can be done to recorded music.[1]

Variations of moshing exist, and can be done alone as well as in groups. Moshing usually happens in a "pit" (sometimes called a "mosh pit") and is intended to be energetic and full of body contact. Variations on the traditional mosh include "pogoing", "circle pits" and the more extreme "wall of death", and are typically done in an area in the center of the crowd, generally closer to the stage.[2]

While moshing is seen as a form of positive feedback or expression of enjoyment,[1][3] it has also drawn criticism over dangerous excesses occurring in offshoots. Injuries have been reported in mosh pits, and a few deaths have occurred in a "Wall of Death", an offshoot that developed when slamdancing was adopted at metal shows from its origin at punk shows.[4][5][6][7]

Contents

  • History 1
    • Etymology 1.1
    • Origins 1.2
    • Crossover into mainstream genres 1.3
  • Physical properties of emergent behavior 2
  • Opposition, criticism and controversy 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

History

Etymology

A crowd of moshing music fans.

The term mosh came into use in the early 1980s American hardcore scene in Washington, D.C. Early on, the dance was frequently spelled mash in fanzines and record liner notes, but pronounced mosh, as in the 1982 song "Total Mash" by the D.C.-based hardcore band Scream. H.R. of the band Bad Brains, regarded as a band that "put moshing on the map,"[8] used the term mash in lyrics and in concert stage banter to both incite and to describe the aggressive and often violent dancing of the scene. To "mash it up" was to go wild with the frenzy of the music. Due to his Jamaican-accented pronunciation of the word, fans heard this as mosh instead.[9]

By the mid-1980s, the term was appearing in print with its current spelling. By the time thrash metal band Anthrax used the term in their song "Caught in a Mosh",[10] the word was already a mainstay of hardcore and thrash scenes. Fans of Billy Milano and the band Stormtroopers of Death have often used the term mosh as an acronym for the phrase "move over shit head" during crowded shows. Through the mainstream success of bands like Anthrax, Nirvana, Stormtroopers of Death, and the Melvins, the term came into the popular vernacular.

Origins

Crowdsurfing over a mosh pit.

The first dance identifiable as moshing may have originated in Orange County, California, during the first wave of American hardcore.[11] Examples of this early moshing can be seen in the documentaries Another State of Mind, Urban Struggle, The Decline of Western Civilization, and American Hardcore, as well as footage from the shows of the era. At the time California hardcore punk bands such as the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Fear and Dead Kennedys were popular in Orange County.

Crossover into mainstream genres

By the end of the 1980s, the initial wave of American hardcore punk had waned and split into other subgenres. The Seattle-based grunge movement was among the many styles of music that directly evolved from hardcore. Through the mainstream success of several grunge bands, the word mosh entered the popular North American vocabulary and the dance spread to many other music genres. According to John Linnell of They Might Be Giants, "it didn’t matter what kind of music you were playing or what kind of band you were; everybody moshed to everything. It was just kind of the enforced rule of going to concerts."[12]

Physical properties of emergent behavior

A clip of moshing music fans.

Researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca studied the emergent behavior of crowds at mosh pits by analyzing online videos, finding similarities with models of 2-D gases in equilibrium.[13] Simulating the crowds with computer models, they found out that a simulation dominated by flocking parameters produced highly ordered behavior, forming vortexes like those seen in the videos.

Opposition, criticism and controversy

The Washington D.C. post-hardcore band Fugazi opposed slamdancing at their live shows. Members of Fugazi were reported to single out and confront specific members of the audience, politely asking them to stop hurting other audience members, or hauling them on stage to apologize on the microphone.[14]

Consolidated, an industrial dance group of the 1990s, stood against moshing. On their third album, Play More Music, they included the song "The Men's Movement", which proclaimed the inappropriate nature of slam dancing. The song consisted of audio recordings during concerts from the audience and members of Consolidated, arguing about moshing.

A no-moshing sign at a concert.

In the 1990s, Billy Corgan said to the audience:

Another fan died at a Smashing Pumpkins concert in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on September 24, 2007. The 20-year-old male was dragged out of the mosh pit, unconscious, to be pronounced dead at a hospital after first-aid specialists attempted to save him.[16][17][18]

A crowd of moshers, with a few people "crowdsurfing" on top of the mosh pit.

Reel Big Fish's 1998 album Why Do They Rock So Hard? included their mosh-criticizing song "Thank You for not Moshing", which contained lyrics that suggested that at least some individuals in the mosh pit were simply bullies who were finding conformity in the violence.

Mike Portnoy

, founder and ex-drummer of Dream Theater, and Avenged Sevenfold where he briefly filled in after the death of The Rev, criticized moshing in an interview published on his website:

Sixteen-year-old Jessica Michalik was an Australian girl who died as a result of asphyxiation after being crushed in a mosh pit during the 2001 Big Day Out music festival during a performance by nu metal band Limp Bizkit.

Groove metal group Five Finger Death Punch had an incident when, during the song "White Knuckles" at a concert in Hartford Connecticut, a young man received a compound fracture on his ankle in a mosh pit. Ivan L. Moody, the band's lead singer, stopped the show, leaped into the crowd with Zoltan Bathory, the band's rhythm guitarist, and carried the injured fan onto the stage, where he was taken to the hospital. Moody has been quoted as saying: "I looked him square in the face and asked him if he was okay, or if there was anything I could do for him. He looked over at me, still in shock, and said 'You guys fucking rock!'" Moody stated "I've felt bad because of what has happened. I miss the old Pantera kids who would just throw each other. Just respect other people; come on." Bathory stated: "Because he broke his leg I threw down my guitar. We just finished when he broke his leg, and I came out and I stayed with him until the paramedics picked him up. These are my people and that's how it is."

Joey DeMaio of American heavy metal band Manowar has been known to temporarily stop concerts upon seeing moshing and crowd surfing, claiming it is dangerous to other fans.[20][21]

Slipknot percussionist Chris Fehn spoke about the state of audience interaction following the onstage incident and subsequent legal issues involving Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, who was eventually found innocent of any wrongdoing in the death of a concertgoer. Fehn briefly addressed the Blythe situation, stating "I think, especially in America, moshing has turned into a form of bullying. The big guy stands in the middle and just trucks any small kid that comes near him. They don’t mosh properly anymore. It sucks because that’s not what it’s about. Those guys need to be kicked out. A proper mosh pit is a great way to be as a group and dance, and just do your thing." [22]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Tsitsos, William
  2. ^ "10 Epic Walls of Death". LoudWire. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Nussbacher, Mike (2004) A Survivor’s Guide To The Mosh Pit. The Martlet. Archived September 28, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ UpVenue's Moshpit Etiquette
  6. ^ Sacahroff, Reaz (1996) Music: Pit Etiquette. Tucson Weekly.
  7. ^ Irvine, Martha (1996) Moshing Exciting but dangerous. Associated Press. at rockmed.org
  8. ^ "Bad Brains biography". From 2004's The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Rolling Stone. 2004. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  9. ^ "Bad Brains – History". peacedogman.com. 2002. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  10. ^ Christie, Ian, Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal
  11. ^ Erryroachpresents.com
  12. ^ The Gothamist, Interview with John Linnell of They Might Be Giants
  13. ^ Silverberg, Jesse L.; Bierbaum, Matthew; Sethna, James P.; Cohen, Itai (2013). "Collective Motion of Humans in Mosh and Circle Pits at Heavy Metal Concerts" (PDF). Physical Review Letters 110 (22).  
  14. ^ Azerrad, Michael (2002). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981–1991 (Reprint. ed.). New York, N.Y.: Back Bay Books. pp. 392–393.  
  15. ^ a b Unknown (May 19, 1996). "Fan Crushed at Smashing Pumpkins Show". MTV.com. Retrieved 2006-06-23. 
  16. ^ "Man dies in Smashing Pumpkins mosh pit". yahoo.ca. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  17. ^ "Man Dies After 'Crowd-Surfing' At SMASHING PUMPKINS Show". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  18. ^ "B.C. man dies after crowd-surfing at rock show". cbc.ca. 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  19. ^ John Kotzian (11 January 2002). "An Interview with Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy" (PDF). mikeportnoy.com. 
  20. ^ Heavy Metal Monday blog
  21. ^ Joey Demaio Anti Mosh PSA YouTube Video
  22. ^ [2]

External links

  • MTV: The Social History of the Mosh Pit (2002)
  • Berger, Tom (2004) In the Pit – How to survive mosh pits and bodysurfing! (online book)
  • How to Mosh in a Mosh Pit on wikiHow (detailed listing of steps to follow, tips, and warnings)
  • "Crowd Surfing and Moshing" at Safeconcerts (includes information on injuries sustained)
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