Moshing

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Moshing
Moshpit3.jpg
Audience members moshing in front of the stage at a concert
GenreLive punk rock and heavy metal
InventorDave Wood
OriginEarly 1980s, California and Washington, D.C., United States

Moshing or slamdancing is a style of dance in which participants push or slam into each other, typically performed in "aggressive" live music. Moshing usually happens in the center of the crowd, generally closer to the stage, [1] in an area called the "pit". It is intended to be energetic and full of body contact.

Dance A performing art consisting of movement of the body

Dance is a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture. Dance can be categorized and described by its choreography, by its repertoire of movements, or by its historical period or place of origin.

Contents

The dance style originated in the hardcore punk scenes of California and Washington, D.C. around 1980. Through the 1980s it spread to other branches of punk rock as well as thrash metal and grunge, which exposed it to the mainstream. Since then, moshing has occasionally been performed to energetic music within a wide variety of genres, including alternative rock, EDM and hip hop, while remaining a staple at punk and heavy metal shows.

Hardcore punk Subgenre of punk rock

Hardcore punk is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. It is generally faster, harder, and more aggressive than other forms of punk rock. Its roots can be traced to earlier punk scenes in San Francisco and Southern California which arose as a reaction against the still predominant hippie cultural climate of the time. It was also inspired by New York punk rock and early proto-punk. New York punk had a harder-edged sound than its San Francisco counterpart, featuring anti-art expressions of masculine anger, energy, and subversive humor. Hardcore punk generally disavows commercialism, the established music industry and "anything similar to the characteristics of mainstream rock" and often addresses social and political topics with "confrontational, politically-charged lyrics."

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Variations of moshing exist, including "pogoing", "circle pits", and "wall of death". Dancing can be done alone as well as in groups. Some moshers, known as crowd killers, swing their arms back and forth and move their legs in a rhythmic fashion.

The pogo is a dance in which the dancers jump up and down, while either remaining on the spot or moving around; the dance takes its name from its resemblance to the use of a pogo stick, especially in a common version of the dance, where an individual keeps their torso stiff, their arms rigid, and their legs close together. Pogo dancing is most associated with punk rock, and is a precursor to moshing.

While moshing is seen as a form of positive fan feedback or expression of enjoyment, [2] [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 "Wall of Death" moshing, an offshoot that developed when fans at thrash metal shows adopted punk-style slamdancing. [4] [5] [6] [7]

History

Etymology

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]

Fanzine magazine published by fans

A fanzine is a non-professional and non-official publication produced by enthusiasts of a particular cultural phenomenon for the pleasure of others who share their interest. The term was coined in an October 1940 science fiction fanzine by Russ Chauvenet and first popularized within science fiction fandom, and from there it was adopted by other communities.

Scream (band) American band

Scream is an American hardcore punk band from Washington, DC that originally formed in the suburb of Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia. Scream originally formed in 1981 within the vanguard of the Washington Hardcore explosion. In 2009 the band reunited, and as of January 2012 were on tour in Europe. As of 2017, the band was still touring in both America and the United Kingdom.

H.R. Vocalist for D.C. hardcore band Bad Brains

Paul D. Hudson, known professionally as H.R., is an American musician who leads the hardcore punk band Bad Brains. His vocal delivery has been described as diverse, ranging from a rapid-fire nasal whine, to feral growling and screeches, to smooth near-crooning or staccato reggae rhymes. He has departed the band periodically to pursue solo efforts that are more reggae than Bad Brains' punk/metal sound. He is the older brother of Earl Hudson, Bad Brains' drummer.

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. Scott Ian and Charlie Benante of Anthrax and S.O.D. have both been credited with the term originating from Vinnie Stigma of the New York hardcore band Agnostic Front. Through the mainstream success of bands like Anthrax, Stormtroopers of Death, and multiple thrash metal bands in the late 1980's the term came into the popular vernacular.[ citation needed ]

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

Anthrax (American band) American thrash metal band

Anthrax is an American heavy metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by rhythm guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. The group is considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene from the 1980s and is one of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer; Anthrax is the only one of the four from the East Coast, and often credited as one of the early thrash metal bands to emerge from there, along with Overkill and Nuclear Assault. The band has released 11 studio albums, several other albums, and 26 singles, including collaborating on a single with American hip hop group Public Enemy. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Anthrax sold 2.5 million records in the United States from 1991 to 2004, with worldwide sales of 10 million.

<i>Among the Living</i> 1987 studio album by Anthrax

Among the Living is the third studio album by American thrash metal band, Anthrax. It was released on March 22, 1987 by Megaforce Worldwide/Island, and was certified gold by the RIAA on July 31, 1990. The BBC has described the album as "arguably their big breakthrough", and "often cited by fans as their favorite Anthrax album". Drummer and principal songwriter Charlie Benante has referred to Among the Living as Anthrax's "signature album". The album was dedicated to the late Cliff Burton of Metallica who died in a bus accident six months before its release.

Origins

Crowdsurfing over a mosh pit. Moshpit2.jpg
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. Dave Wood, an avid concert-goer and roadie of The Weirdos, popularized moshing at a show at The Roxy in 1977. The show at The Roxy is said to have been the first to have a mosh pit. At the time California hardcore punk bands such as the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Fear and Dead Kennedys were popular in Orange County.[ citation needed ]

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.[ citation needed ] 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.[ citation needed ] 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]

Variations

Variations of moshing exist, and can be done alone as well as in groups. Variations on the traditional mosh include "pogoing", "circle pits" (where the participants bump and jostle each other as they run along the circular perimeter of the pit) and the more extreme "wall of death" (where the crowd splits into two groups that run at each other). Some moshers swing their arms back and forth and move their legs in a rhythmic fashion.[ citation needed ]

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 American 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 slamdancing. The song consisted of audio recordings during concerts from the audience and members of Consolidated, arguing about moshing.[ citation needed ]

A no-moshing sign at a concert No moshing sign, Bumbershoot 2010.jpg
A no-moshing sign at a concert

In the 1990s, the Smashing Pumpkins took a stance against moshing, following two incidents which resulted in fatalities. At a 1996 Pumpkins concert in Dublin, Ireland, 17-year-old Bernadette O'Brien was crushed by moshing crowd members and later died in the hospital, despite warnings from the band that people were getting hurt. [15] At another concert, singer Billy Corgan said to the audience:

I just want to say one thing to you, you young, college lughead-types. I've been watchin' people like you sluggin' around other people for seven years. And you know what? It's the same shit. I wish you'd understand that in an environment like this, and in a setting like this, it's fairly inappropriate and unfair to the rest of the people around you. I, and we, publicly take a stand against moshing! [15]

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. La Gente Mosheando.JPG
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 festival during a performance by nu metal band Limp Bizkit.[ citation needed ]

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."[ citation needed ]

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 criminal wrongdoing in the death of a concertgoer, despite being held "morally responsible". 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

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References

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