In the beginning, there was the fist-banging mania, which evolved into the far more psychotic (and substantially less foolish looking) head-banging. Head-banging was great. It continues to be great. It's an easy way to enjoy metal in a way that people that don't like metal can't understand. Why would you want to throw your brain around like that? Why not, I say.
As part of the rise of American punk/metal there came the mosh pit. (Historical note: many credit the Bad Brains with the invention of the mosh pit, but I’m sure there’s an ongoing debate.) A chance for people to feel the rhythm let loose their stress and do a healthy amount of banging into each other. The mosh pit was an amazing innovation. It was low-level sanctioned violence, an easy way to get catharsis and burn off a few hundred calories. A tax free opportunity to make a fool of yourself by jumping around indoors and have no one judge you.
So what's the point of all this? The point is this; the modern mosh pit has lost all sense of reason. Alright, fine, that sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn't. During the era of slam dancing, the mosh pit was an easy way to get knocked around without getting damaged, to channel some of that heavy metal potential into kinetic. Life was good. Now, the game has changed. Take a look the next time you're near a mosh pit. What do you see? Five, maybe six guys, flailing away, arms and legs firing out at nothing, and....nothing else....no one else in the pit. The word "pit" becomes a misnomer. This is why the mosh pit has lost all sense.
Rarely do I see a true throng in the pit these days, and that comes from an extension of the fact that no one really wants to take a fist in the jaw. As opposed to slam dancing, moshing has just become a handful of attention-seekers swinging their arms into empty air as furiously as they can, like some kind of ridiculous martial arts demonstration. So everyone else stands clear while a couple freaks spin kick their away into an empty place on the floor. And if it isn't those people driving away the rest of the near-stage floor, it's the hyper-inflated gym rats that go into the pit specifically to dole out punishment, which is questionable in and of itself. What perturbs me most about those latter individuals is that they rarely pay any heed to the actual music. They just mill about and shove people. More often than not, they get extremely angry if they get shoved back, which makes even less sense. This fails to impress me.
So who do I blame for this? Two groups come into my immediate crosshairs. Hardcore kids are the first. And why do I blame hardcore kids? Analyze the facts. Metal fans may be jumpy, and may be charged, but how many serious metal fans do you know who think to themselves "I know how to get into the pit, I'll do a wheel kick!" No. Doesn't happen. Hardcore kids brought that nonsense to moshing. Metalheads are more of a pushing and shoving crowd. They don't have the ambition to start swinging and punching and flailing. The second party are the people you see at the more “mainstream” punk/metal concerts, who haven’t been part of the scene long/often enough to realize that there are rules to these things. You! Yeah, you! Pick someone up if they hit the floor, don’t kick him again!
Moral of the story: the pit is on life support. It lives on in a state of unorganized disgrace, a collective miasma. But that's not to say it can't be revived to its former glory. Recently, I’ve seen signs of improvement, as the mainstream popularity of hardcore has waned somewhat. All of us, everyone can work together on this and take our pit back. You throw anything that looks like an intentional punch; gone. Act like a hideous sack of crap looking to hit people, and you're not welcome here anymore. If we all work together, we can make it better. Think globally, act locally. Violence can be dignified once again.
Couple quick pit stories: I saw Rob Zombie in a small venue in July of 2005 (Priestess opened, before they even had an album out.) It had to be 110 degrees in the heart of the crowd, and this was the best type of pit to be in: it was packed so tight, that you couldn’t help but be involved in the pit. More than a hundred people in a confined space relentlessly smashing into each other. Over the course of the night, between the heat and the action, I lost six pounds. I went home and drank three bottles of water without blinking.
Last October, I was at a Queens of the Stone Age concert (the Black Angels opened. Unimpressive.) Without really noticing, the floor had opened up for the pit to begin, and there I was, unwittingly standing in the middle of it. After about forty-five seconds of getting run in to, I realized I was standing in the exact same place. How was it possible that I hadn’t moved? I looked around: the whole crowd was indie and emo kids! They don’t even know what a push-up is! No wonder they couldn’t move me.
**News and updates!
-I heard a good-sized chunk of Unearth's new album, "The March." I like what I heard, I'm just concerned that this band has reached a glass ceiling of sorts. Their guitar tandem is amazing (listen to it for that alone,) but I'm still getting the impression that I'm listening to Soilwork's opening band. There's still more potential to be tapped. Travis Phipps will always sound a little like Zach de la Rocha to me, I don't know if that's good or bad. I may give this album the review treatment at some point, I haven't decided. At least it's some good quality metal made in America.
-Way back, I stumbled across a little known punk band from New Jersey called "IDK" (they were around before people started murdering syntax by having text, so I don't believe it's a play on 'I Don't Know.') They had one album in 1998, "Til Death Do Us Part," and I thought it was pretty damn good, if a bit uncomplicated. I think three total copies of that album were sold: one to frontman Red's mom, one to his dad, and the third to me. Anyway, while laid up with a purple sprained ankle, I pulled that CD off the rack, and wondered "what the hell happened to this band?" I had found them about four years after the album's release, and there had been nothing since. So, I went to the interweb out of curiosity....and they're back. After ten years. With a new EP. I listened to a chunk of it on their myspace page (idknj) While it's good to see Red back, the EP is not an improvement on "Til Death Do Us Part." Oh well.
-Anthrax is back in the studio.
-Exodus has been telling people that the stuff they're doing in the studio is "darker and faster," but I think that's been their line about every album since "Bonded by Blood." C'mon, new Toxic Waltz! (Okay, I don't mean that.)
-Venom has another album out. Let me rephrase that: Cronos has a new album out. Early returns say it ain't bad, ain't great.
-Chris Cornell is really excited about his new album "Scream." It's produced by Timbaland. To turn an analogy, Chris Cornell as a solo artist is 1 for 4 with a single and strikeout, so I'm playing 'wait and see' with this.
-A few days ago, I read some news about Cattle Decapitation. I don't remember what it was, and that doesn't bother me. I'm also not going to look it up. They're such a parody unto themselves that they've gotten a couple single raised eyebrows from me. However, their music is poor. So I won't waste your time with an update on them.
-Aside from Black Sabbath's "Master of Reality," there might not be a better blues-metal album than Danzig III.
-Does anyone else think John Legend is wildly overrated?
-One of my Agents In The Field was excited about Dir en Grey's new album. I made the case that the Mad Capsule Markets were a superior band, if a different style. After hearing the new Dir en Grey, I stand by my statement.
I just couldn't do it. I couldn't take Oakland with the points this week against Carolina. I'm feeling a mix of anger and shame.