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Weekly survey: What was your best/worst mosh pit experience?

Have you ever found yourself down front at a gig and been sucked into swirling vortex of a mosh pit? It can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also be terrifying.

Back in ’92, Al Jourgensen of Ministry invited me to watch their Lollapalooza set from the side stage area. I will forever remember looking down on the pit bathed in red light and thinking “This is what Hell must look like.” I also almost lost several teeth at a Pearl Jam show in Missoula, Montana, when some moron ran into the pit at full speed with both elbows up in battering ram position.

Then again, moshing during a Rage Against the Machine set was one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve ever had. And even though monsoon rains threatened to completely wash out a U2 show in Moscow, everyone at that 360 Tour stop who was near the front huddled together for warmth and protection while still having a good time.

What mosh pit experiences, good or bad, can you share? Leave them in the comments section below.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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10 thoughts on “Weekly survey: What was your best/worst mosh pit experience?

  • Best mosh pit has to be when I was in Germany at a festival called Wacken. It rains a lot every year at this festival, and has roughly 100,000 attendees so the pit was very muddy and crowded. I was crowd surfing to an entire Maiden song when I got dropped off in a pit. First rule of Mosh pits, elbows up and pick someone up when they fall. Me may seem scary in the moment but were honestly the nicest people haha

  • At an outdoor Moist show in Saskatoon, SK. (In Saskatchewan we mosh to everything). I remember in the middle of the set going to check my Mickey Mouse watch and it was gone. I was initially upset, but decided to not let it ruin the show and started mashing again. At the end of the show I was chatting with some friends and suddenly felt something awkward under my shoe. I look down and immediately recognized the strap from my watch sticking out of the ground. It had obviously been stomped on, as the rest of the watch was imbedded in a couple inches of mud. I dug my watch out and sure enough, it was still ticking. The watch continued to work for another 5 years and many more mosh pits.

  • It’s not a place at concerts I normally go, but I took my son and a friend of mine to see Theory Of A Dead Man at the Friendship Festival in Fort Erie, Ontario, about ten years ago. Because my son was under-age, we couldn’t go on the “adult side” and had to stay in the area where there was no alcohol. There might have been no alcohol, but there was certainly a lot of other stuff! The air was thick with marijuana smoke, and surprisingly there were quite a few older people in the crowd near us. I thought having to deal with the incredibly rude conga lines of young people snaking their way to the front of the stage, shoving everyone out of the way, was bad enough. But during the main act’s set some young guys started moshing, and I’m not sure what they were doing, but one guy went sailing into all of us like a bowling ball. People literally went flying! There was an older couple beside us and they were pissed. We were able to keep standing, but just barely, but some fist fights almost broke out, and the idiots who caused the carnage rapidly vanished. It really put a damper on what was otherwise a great show.

  • In 2009, Slayer, Megadeth, Machine Head & Suicide Silence had a show in Winnipeg.
    The mosh pit for openers Suicide Silence was intense, and, as I am not familiar with their music, I concentrated on staying upright with the roiling sea of humanity.
    For the other 3 bands, the intensity of the pit increased and somehow more people were moshing.
    I was not in the circle pit, but was hugging the barricade for support. The circle pit was maybe 2 feet (1 body width) behind me. I would occasionally feel someone smack into my back & then suddenly be gone, sucked into the dervish of the pit. When the security people stood on the barricade steps in front of me, you knew to get your arms up to protect your head from the body, legs & arms which would be picked up soon.
    Being squished against the barricade & human mass was taking it’s toll against me & everyone else in the front row. The bouncers noticed & asked is if we were ok. Some said no & were taken out of the chaos. I stayed in & suffered…but had fun.
    Bruised ribs, and bruises were everywhere by shows end…along with my catching a Kerry King guitar pick and a Robb Flynn guitar pick.

  • Rage Against the Machine, Reading Festival, 2000. The most pit had its own heart beat. It was incredible.

  • I love the Rock on the Range concerts each year. Awesome metal acts for 3 full days on 3 stages. You can push your way up the front into the mosh pit. The great thing is being so close to such great music, the terrible thing is the constant crowd surfers, all you are doing is moving people along, every 10 seconds there is another, and the same damn people time after time. Can’t enjoy the show because someone is always stepping on your head. They should have one side of the stage for surfers and the other side surfer free!

  • Ah mosh pit! Because I am a girl and I am only 5’2, people were respecting me. Nothing bad ever happen. The worst was the smell… at 35° in July, during a Ramones show, my nose is at the same height as most people’s armpit…

  • Hi Alan. In 1994, it seemed that EVERY show I went to involved a mosh-pit. My favourite experience came at Lollapalooza at Cloverdale Exhibition Grounds just outside of Vancouver. What a lineup. What a day. Green Day as the day’s opener. L7. The Breeders. A Tribe Called Quest. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. Beastie Boys. Smashing Pumpkins. Not to mention a cornucopia of awesomeness on the 2nd stage. What more could a 23 year-old me ever want? I digress. To the mosh-pit. Beastie Boys are playing just as the sun is starting to set. Stage backdrop is a red curtain with a Chinese dragon on it. Sun behind it is illuminating it. Ill Communication has only been out for about 4 months, so “Sabotage” is still fresh to our ears. Crowd is simply going NUTS when they break into it. Pit is huge. Dust being kicked up as that sunset light fights it’s way through. I’m not in the pit, but I’m watching it. But it WASN’T the pit that was my favourite experience. It was the Beastie Boys’ “Mosh-Pit Do’s and Dont’s” that were printed in the free (remember, this is 1994) program. You can still a shot of it with a simple Google search. At the time, it was cheeky, funny and campy. But it was also poignant in the fact that the Beasties cared enough about the audience’s general well-being that they felt compelled to print it. In a strange twist, I remember that point in time being the beginning of the end of mosh-pits, at least at non-metal shows. Perhaps the Mosh-Pit Do’s and Dont’s forced everyone to take a proverbial look in the mirror and ask themselves “Why?”… I don’t know. But that page from the program was brilliant. I wish I hadn’t left it on the post-show ground with hundreds of other copies of it.

  • Best, I would have to say was Green Day’s Insomniac tour in Sudbury around 1995. It was my first unsupervised concert and my sister had explained to me the concept of a mosh pit, but I didn’t quite understand it until I saw it. I was young, but big, so I jumped in there. I was holding my own until a sneaker was thrown from somewhere in there and hit me square in the forehead. It knocked me down, but thankfully people helped me up and I was able to find/fight my way back to my friend. My parents came to pick us up after the show. My favourite Blue Jays jacket was destroyed and I had a shoe print on my face. I told them it was the most fun I’d ever had. They were weirdly cool about it.

    Worst would have to be Edgefest 2000. I’d been in plenty of mosh pits by then, but it was my ignorance that made this a bad one. I was with 2 friends and one of their girlfriends. At the time, one of the most popular songs on the radio was “Take a Picture” by Filter. My friend’s girlfriend loved the song. My other two friends decided they wanted drinks, so they went and I stayed close to the stage with my friend’s girlfriend. Filter took the stage and little did we know that “Take a Picture” was the exception and that the rest of their music was heavy. The mosh pit developed instantly around us and within 5 seconds, I knew I had to get her out of there. I did my best and we got out relatively unscathed but it was one of the most grueling 1-2 minutes I’ve ever endured.


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