To mosh or not to mosh

I went to Pearl Jam, got thoroughly moshed, and survived! Mostly thanks to my BFG’s amazing crowd manipulation skills.

Moshing is a bit controversial if you ask me. I understand that some people enjoy it and that is their way of expressing their love of the music. But I think it is very important for them to remember that not everyone enjoys it and that people can die in mosh pits. Ten years ago 9 people died at a Pearl Jam gig. The band members all considered retiring after that. Eddie Vedder, the lead singer, received many  alerts over his earpiece on Friday to warn the crowd to stay calm because it was pretty rough out there. From where I was standing the moshing started even before Pearl Jam came on.

There was a group of young but BIG boys who were determined to have a good time, seemingly with no regard to whether other people were having a good time or not. And to me that is where moshing goes wrong.

When Pearl Jam did come on, it got pretty hectic. Within the first few seconds people were being rescued like flies by the security, being pushed to the front through a bone-crushing mash of people where they could be pulled out to safety. There were many tiny girls around me who were absolutely terrified, screaming for help, begging for it to stop. We all did our best to help them to the front asap. Loads of guys were scrambling to the front to be rescued too. They had a harder time being saved because the moshers kept throwing them back in.

The BFG seemed to be enjoying the mosh so I hung around, thinking I could survive, but I realised sometime into the second song that I was spending all my time trying to stay alive rather than enjoy the music so I told him I wanted out. He managed somehow to steer us sideways out of the pit. I have no idea how this worked. My feet hardly touched the ground, but he somehow managed to use the force of other people’s bodies to steer us in the direction he wanted. It was amazing.

The people on the edge of the mosh pit were great, and seemed to take it upon themselves to do all the saving. They offered to get me to the front but I was pretty happy drifting sideways. It was a bit squeezy and squishy but it worked and the BFG and I popped out amongst a quieter crowd to the side.

Shoowee. I normally enjoy dancing at gigs but after that crushing experience I was happy to chill and stand still.

My usual experiences of moshes have been much safer. They were usually at local gigs where there were not 50 000 people all pushing forwards. Usually at local gigs people make space for the moshers and you can join in and bounce out again at will.  But this Pearl Jam thing was a bit scary. There was no space, no way to get in and out. It would be fine if everyone was like the guys who were helping other people escape, but of course there were some guys who were so into their own enjoyment that they didn’t notice that some people were scared or getting hurt, and they didn’t seem to care.  And that is why moshing is so dangerous. If you can be aware that other people may not enjoy something as much as you then it will be safe, but these guys didn’t appear to see the tiny sub-five foot girls being crushed and thrown around, looking scared and not having a good time at all.

I felt so bad for Eddie Vedder. After the first two songs, he had a little chat with the audience, asked us to be cool and look out for our neighbour, make sure everybody was having a good time. A few songs later he asked again, and got us all to take a few steps back to relieve some pressure on the front. He spoke to us again about it a few songs later, and he was so full of emotion that he couldn’t finish his sentence.

He told us how cut up he was to see people being dragged out of the crowd like they weren’t having a good time. He couldn’t carry on speaking and after that song he told us that it was ten years since the tragedy when the 9 fans died at their gig, and more than anything, his concern was with our safety. The poor guy! Shit I felt bad for him, and mad at those boys who were so selfish. Moshing can be safe if you make it safe, or it can be dangerous. No one was badly hurt that night, everyone was safe, but I wonder if those guys were really the true Pearl Jam fans that they considered themselves to be, because their actions were causing the band so much grief and worry.

Anyway, after I escaped my mosh mashing, I could focus on the music, and it was just wonderful. Eddie’s voice really is amazing. He played the songs I wanted to hear and more. He played songs I have never heard before that were beautiful. It really was awesome. Hearing 50+ thousand people singing the first verse of Better Man was pretty special.

Another awesome moment was before the Pearl Jam gig when Eddie Vedder and the awesome Ben Harper did a cover of Under Pressure. It was probably one of the best songs of the evening, it’s pity I was too busy being squished to totally enjoy it…

I had a great time, but maybe from now on I should stand further back, because I may be getting a leetle bit too old for that level of intense moshing. My back is not so good these days, you know?

What do you think about moshing?

Here is Pearl Jam’s setlist if you are interested.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Damaria Senne
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 09:17:26

    LOL. I didn’t know what moshing was, so I had to go check wikipedia first. And now that I understand, I’m kind chicken and like my personal space, so it doesn’t sound like something I would enjoy.

    Reply

  2. Momcat
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 10:05:31

    That sounds absolutely petrifying. Glad you enjoyed the music though.

    Reply

  3. Helen
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 10:48:50

    Concerts are one of a few occasions where I love being almost 6 feet tall! I’ve done the right-in-front-mosh-squish a few times and enjoyed it, but nowadays I’d rather be more relaxed and hang out where there’s some breathing room and I can get out to go to the bathroom if I need to rather than being terrified of losing my spot… getting old? Will need to psych myself up if the rumours of Billy Talent coming here turn out to be true!

    Glad you had a good time though!

    Reply

  4. Shannon
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 14:36:49

    I thought moshing went out in the 90s with flannel shirts and Kurt Cobain. I had no idea it lived on.

    Reply

  5. Kirsty
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 23:46:43

    Man! I dated a metalhead a year or two ago, and so sort of learned a lot very fast about metal and moshing. My little group of male friends are all quite into their metal, so we used to do it for a laugh in the Union Bop on a Friday night when a cheesy dance song came on! And man, does it hurt your neck the next day! I’ve never been to a proper metal gig, but the same guy I was dating went to see Orange Goblin, and came back absolutely covered in bruises. I think the adrenaline must get to you – but it is a bit crappy that even the bands can’t enjoy the gigs because they’re so worried about people dying!!

    Reply

  6. sonnyvsdan
    Jun 29, 2010 @ 08:37:53

    I used to love a good mosh. But that was back in the old days – the early naughties. I think you hit it on the head. You need to know what you are in for and look out for the people around you, but it’s not for everyone.

    Reply

  7. Tamara
    Jun 29, 2010 @ 21:12:19

    Eish! At my height, I am terrified of moshing. I get claustrophobic enough in big crowds coz all I can see is armpit. Blegh!

    Reply

  8. DT
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 22:38:53

    Ooooh so jealous! I love Pearl Jam. I also realy loved moshing at some point, especially to Nelly The Elephant for some bizzarre reason…it is not entirely impossible but highly unlikely I will be keen to give that another go any time soon! I am glad you loved the music!

    Reply

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