Over the years, different music scenes, bands, and regions have developed their own codes and rules regarding acceptable concert behavior, so depending on your politics, mosh pits provide either marks of the decline of western civilization or positive breaks from social stasis. But when they’re good, mosh pits provide frenzied rites of passage for the general admission concert audience. We looked back on some of the wildest ones documented over the past 36 years.
Fear – Saturday Night Live 1981
Before even releasing a full-length, LA punk band Fear were offered a soundtrack opportunity for the film Neighbors by John Belushi, only for the group to be rejected by the film’s producers. As compensation, Belushi secured Fear a gig on the 1981 Halloween episode of Saturday Night Live. Bringing with them a group of some 80 slam dancers, the performance resulted in $20,000 in damages to cameras, a piano, and other property. Frontman Lee Ving says one stage manager had a pumpkin smashed over his head.
Bad Brains – CBGB’S 1982
Called a band that “put moshing on the map” by Rolling Stone, early Washington, D.C. hardcore act Bad Brains were known for the chaotic frenzies of their live performances. In this clip from a 1982 performance at CBGB’s, the pit makes its way onstage, even knocking singer H.R. off balance at one point. And if you look closely, you might spot Black Flag singer Henry Rollins in there.
Fucked Up – MTV Live 2008
There’s something to be said about mosh pits that take place in close quarters, and this 2008 Fucked Up performance in MTV Live’s bathroom takes the cake. Audience members crowd surf in through the doorway to be a part of the energy, ceiling tiles are smashed, and at some point a motorcycle kicks on.
Heaven Shall Burn – Wacken 2011
When Heaven Shall Burn played the German metal festival Wacken Open Air in 2011, they solicited the audience to make a giant circle pit. By the end of this song, they’ve got three.
Dagoba – Hellfest 2014
This wall of death at French groove metal act Dagoba’s Hellfest set might be the longest wall of death you’ve ever seen.
(Photo by dr_zoidberg via Flickr)