My First Moshpit

By , Park Ridge, IL
Decision making has never been one of my strong suits. Not that I necessarily make bad decisions, it is simply that I can sometimes make very rash decisions that stay with me for a long time. I usually think through my decisions carefully, but when I`m frazzled, or in a stressful, confusing, or exciting environment, I tend to be neglect the decision making skills that I have developed all throughout my life, the skills that I have learned as consequences to making bad decisions previously. In most cases, this is a bad thing, because I end up screwing myself over as a result of my poor thought process, but on the night of the 14th of July, 2010, I made a very rash, and potentially very harmful decision to try my hand at what some refer to as “moshing”.

It was a sunny summer day, and it was the day of my second concert. I had butterflies in my stomach all day. I had heard the stories of what metal concerts got like, I had seen several videos on youtube.com, of seemingly angry, vicious, long haired metal heads running in enormous circles that resembled tornadoes. They were huge, fast, and they looked incredibly dangerous. The circles only broke when they formed into huge crowds of what looked to me like pissed off skinheads the size of Professional football players, crazed, overly-hyper “head bangers” and anyone else who was too foolish or too unfortunate to get out of the way before the hitting started. They were hopped up on weed and booze. Being the young, inexperienced, and timid 15 year old boy that I was then, I had no intention on joining in on one. I remember the day like it were yesterday, I remember every detail of it in fact: My day driving me from the Chicago and Milwaukee train stop to the concert venue; a grungy, dark, place called Reggie`s located on state street, just off of Cermak and China town, The place was a dump, not the actual venue but the street located around it, Cermak and China town is a rough place, and stories of robberies, beatings, and even shootings that take place literally down the block from Reggie`s are a constant floating around my group of friends who go there regularly for concerts. The street is littered with cops, hobos and colorful people of all forms (no pun intended). You probably cannot go walking that block without 2 homeless people begging you for change, and you probably cannot go walking anywhere in that neighborhood with guaranteed safety. Personally, I was scared shitless as I walked up the block to the building. I saw my friends Bob, Mark, Adam and Dennis all waiting in line for the venue to open, surrounded by the pudgy, the dirty, those dressed in all black, those dressed in all leather, those dressed in all denim and still more varieties of seemingly strange looking metal aficionados. Band t shirts were the most prominent features of those attending, T shirts which portrayed dark, scary imagery of death, dying and epic, graphic, and ridiculously illustrated gore. There were lots of men who looked like they hadn’t washed in days, and even more whose skin was so pale that it seemed like they this had been the first time they had been released from the protective custody of their basements. I was nervous, yes, but I was also incredibly excited. This was the first metal show I would go to that was strictly general admission. It was also the first concert I was going to that would be featuring the aforementioned mosh pits. It was going to be a night of new experiences.

The doors opened, and we filed into the venue. Bright sunlight which brought on baking heat soon transformed into cool sunlight providing a comfortable, air conditioned atmosphere contained within the sound proof walls of the venue. I walked into a room that I was expecting to be twice as large as it actually was, featuring a stage about 3 feet high above the ground, which was about 3 times smaller than I was expecting. The first thought that went through my mind was that there was no way a crowd for a stacked metal lineup would even have a chance of fitting in here. About 15 minutes after entering the building, and witnessing the merch stands which were beautifully decorated with all manner of t shirts, CD`s and other band-affiliated apparel the first band went on. Me and my friend Bob got to the very front of the stage, looking up at a band of five. Each man was dressing roughly the same, with black band shirts, depicting scenes of gore and dismemberment, long, unkempt hair, and a general appearance of dirtiness and grime that came as a result of touring for months on end without the most basic of day to day comforts. The band played somewhat well, for an opener, and did a good job of entertaining and priming the crime for the nights show. People were still trickling in by the time the second band went on. A band called “Enfold Darkness”.

Their set went by quickly. They were a mediocre band, with a decent vocalist and entertaining songwriting, but for the most part they were just another opening band. Finally, one of the main bands, Vital Remains, prepared to play.

They stood on the stage in a line of five members. Each one was grizzly, pissed off looking and very intimidating. They began their set with an intro tape of some epic opera singing and went into their set. It was the loudest thing I had ever heard, so loud, in fact, that for the first thirty minutes of their set I could barely even hear what they were playing. It sounded to me like straight noise for awhile. It was so loud and impossible to make out what was going on that everyone in the audience was asking each other what song they had just played after the first one was over. Immediately as the guitars started screaming and the drums started banging, the entire crowd started pushing and shoving. I was in the middle, somewhat close to the stage, and I got caught right in the middle of it all.

I panicked. Keeping my arms up in a protective fashion to cover up my head, I stayed as low and inconspicuous as I could and tried to pry my way out of the melee that had developed. It was brutal and indiscriminate. It was as if 30 middle aged giants had decided to clobber the heads of anybody standing in their way. I fought my way out of the chaos. Feeling up and down my body for serious injuries and bruises was the first thing I did. My heart was pounding my breathing was intense and heavy. I looked back into the pit. They had now begun the infamous “circle pits”. All of the moshers had started to run around in giant circles. They moved fast and uncontrollably. Anybody who wasn’t able to keep up was shoved out of the way or trampled under massive, steel-toed boot. I saw many of my friends in that pit, and I had to admit, after awhile of flinching and cringing, It looked quite fun. They looked like they were having the time of their life. The sheer energy and energetic dancing nature of the act of moshing served to accelerate the already lightning fast pace of the concert. It created such a profound atmosphere that was nothing like I had ever experienced. The entire crowd was moving, there were long haired guys and girls whipping their hair frantically back and forth as they headbanged to the extremely fast pace of the music. Even the more conservative audience members who did not want a part in the violence had to take part, as the overly packed crowd would push either way to make more room on one end, only for the other end of the crowd to push right back.

All of the sudden I was overcome with excitement. I embraced the energetic nature of the metal concert. My mind was split in two, half of me wanted to dive right in, to take part in all the action, to be a true part of the crowd. OF course the other part of me, (and possibly the more sensible part), simply wanted to stay alive, but sometimes in order to have the most fun you have to take the greatest risks. That being said, I made the choice to step into the breach.

I jumped right in. Keeping arms slightly above my head to avoid punches to the face. I moved from side to side, making a conscious effort to watch what I was doing and stay on my feet. Unfortunately I didn’t do a very good job of that. I felt an elbow in my side. It was a sharp, stabbing pain. Another limb or some other body part came and hit me in the face. I could feel the blood in my face swelling up. I stepped back, trying to keep my balance, trying to keep myself from being harmed, but a large man with a body of rock came at me from behind, pushing me back and throwing me into a face plant. I panicked even worse. For a second I was almost assured that I was not going to walk out of that venue that night. I tried to push myself up but then I felt another man trip over my legs. The body came down hard on me. I started to freak out, flailing my limbs and struggling to get out of this death trap that I had found myself in. I became claustrophobic. I could feel my own chest pumping as I began to hyperventilate. Then I felt something I had absolutely no idea I would feel. I felt arms, multiple arms, wrapping around my body and grasping me. They pulled me up from below, I stood up back on my feet, it was as if I had been picked and placed down nicely and neatly. I swear I could feel a pat on my back.

After the first traumatic experience, most people would not want to go back in for another try. I did. I`m not quite sure what it was that made me want to go back. Perhaps it was the feeling of being truly alive in a situation where so much is going on at the same time. Everything was happening in this intense, uncontrollable fashion. It was speed and chaos and anger and emotion and raw power and I loved it all. I jumped back in, this time much more confident. Instead of simply running in and trying to keep my head from getting punched off, I actually tried pushing back. It was strange pushing back at much larger and scarier men people that I had absolutely no previous relation with. It was as if I was fighting someone, I didn’t feel like I had to defend myself and in fact I barely even felt a threat from these people. They were just like me, normal concert goers who just wanted to have some fun and let loose. What better way for someone to do that than mosh? The sheer intensity and chaotic nature of everything that was happening was incredible, but even more so was the fact that these were people that I would never actually go up against in my right mind. I wouldn’t even think about fighting some 200 pound muscle ridden concert-goer in a one on one fight, I wouldn’t do anything to provoke one of these guys. Yet I wasn’t fighting them, I was in a large mosh pit with them yes, but I wasn’t trying to harm anybody. That wasn’t the point. The point was to let go of all the tension and emotion that builds up in our lives each day. It was to live for the moment and make it count by doing something that could let out everything that had built up in months.

Since I had tried moshing that first time in my life, I have been a regular concert goer. I go to concerts all the time. Whenever a band comes around that I want to see, and they are in an excellent line up like the one that night, I waste no time in procuring the money I need and going out to see it. I love moshing more than anything, its incredibly fun, of course its really not for everyone, but if you like hard, chaotic, physical activity I highly recommend coming out to reggies or another venue and seeing a show with me and my friends!





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