moshing: an evolving culture | music
I stumble home battered and bruised. My muscles ache and there is a continuous ringing in my ears. I’ve been drained of all energy. A mixture of sweat, beer drenched hair, and ripped clothing can only make you wonder of the horrors I had experienced that night. What ordeal could cause such a tranquil man to be in such a state? I can tell you that I am part of a culture that has grown popular around the world over almost 40 years: Moshing.
It’s an activity that is the perfect oxymoron, with men and women of all ages releasing all of this built up anger and tension that our current societal and political state causes within us. But, despite the intensity, violence, and painful action, it’s filled with such strong community and togetherness that any possible negative connotations can be instantly dismissed.
Mosh Pits started around the early 80s in both California and Washington D.C, and before long the trend had spread across America in the Hardcore and Punk scenes, only to later hit harder music scenes around Europe. In 2019, this act of controlled and safe aggression is not exclusive to the genres that birthed The Mosh.
My first ever mosh pit took place on the 5th April 2014 at Alexandra Palace seeing the Pop Punk band, You Me at Six. I went in with nerves-a-plenty and left full of adrenaline and excitement. To be in a whirlwind of chaos and destruction was such a beautiful experience, weirdly. Jumping, pushing, falling down with half a dozen others landing straight on your head; it’s an experience like no other. I was immediately hooked and desperately searched for my next fix. The more Pits I entered, the more extreme my searches would become. I went from Pop Punk Most Pits to Rock and Metal pits in less than a couple of months. Each experience more intense and painful than the last, but I didn’t care about the inevitable aches and bruises. For the first time in my life I had found a community where I could truly be myself and be surrounded by others who felt exactly the same way.
Over the 5 years I have been Moshing, this sense of community has been ever present in such a strong way, as comes with most music. When I began, it would predominantly be a male activity, with women steering clear of the rough vicinity of the standing area. This is something that bands such as Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes and IDLES have worked extremely hard to tackle over the last few years. Their ethos and attitudes to equality at live music events have created a space that all genders can feel safe in. I have noticed more and more women joining in the fun and it creates such a great vibe.
The crucial message in most music is one of inclusion. Once upon a time, a whole demographic of people couldn’t feel safe in Mosh Pit culture and that completely goes against the spirit of it. Equality, respect, and love are what these events should be filled with, and I feel extremely proud to be part of the generation who are shaping the live music experience to suit all.
Since the beginning of its history, this phenomenon has boomed across the world and has become extremely popular to heighten the live experience of thousands of spectators. But, rarely do such prominent aspects of culture stay the same, especially when spreading internationally. I went to see the Grime artist, Giggs, at the soon to be deceased venue, Borderline, and was shocked to find a Mosh Pit breaking out halfway through his set. Of course I joined in and it was extremely fun. I left with a cut lip, which was standard of most gigs I’ve been to, but it was to a genre of music where I’d never experienced this vibe taking place.
As I quickly discovered, Mosh Pits are alive and kicking in the Grime and Hip-Hop world and I fully dig it! This became instantly fascinating for me because, on paper, you wouldn’t think of Rap and Punk to share many, if any, of the same characteristics. If you’d have told a 1980s Punk they would be moshing to Hip-Hop in a few decades time, they’d have laughed in your face. Now, it’s become a normality.
So as I’m stumbling home, hurting as if I’d been dragged into a pub brawl, you wouldn’t believe that I had spend the night watching the acoustic G-folk artist Hak Baker, who I would say is leading the way with most unlikely atmosphere for a Mosh Pit. “You just don’t Mosh to an acoustic guitar”, my friend exclaims before walking through the venue doors. I just smile at him.
I know exactly what to expect from this gig, and it didn’t disappoint. I just remember seeing the joy on my friends face halfway through the song ‘Fuck You’ as the Pit opens, causing a moment of madness that would tear my shirt and give me a black eye to prove I gave that gig everything I had in me.