Bold statement: You would be hard pressed to find higher praise for an unknown/semi-unknown band than to have adults mosh at your concert.
SF-based garage punk goof Mikal Cronin just spent three nights dusting up the Silver Dollar as part of NXNE 2013. If his second of three shows was any indication, it would appear he is well positioned to join the late Jay Reatard and Wavves in the ranks of notable power pop artists who channel punk rock without playing punk rock in a literal sense.
Let’s finger early Lemonheads as the torch bearers and acknowledge that if played well and armed with decent songwriting plus the right/wrong ‘tude, this type of music will almost always translate well in the live setting. As was the case with Cronin who personally, I thought was pretty friggin’ fantastic.
So fantastic, he caused some grown-ass mans (and a few womans) to mosh.
You don’t see adults moshing all that often but it can be VERY exciting when you do. Here is a rough ingredient list for adult mosh pits…
1. Multiple pockets of drunk friends (“friends”?) who are starting to lose their proverbial “sea legs” as they wait for their heroes to come on-stage
2. Tight capacity
3. The heat… by Gawd, the heat!!!
4. A band on-stage that is either age-appropriate or at least VERY reminiscent of a like-minded, age-appropriate outfit (i.e. as mentioned, Mikal Cronin was not unlike Reatard or Wavves or early Lemonheads)
When the stars align, that’s when the magic happens. And by magic, I mean… uh, people shifting their weight and knocking into each other.
In short, I would argue there is no greater praise for a fledgling band than to have adults mosh at your shows.
Seeing teenagers, tweens and toddlers mosh is a given since at an all-ages show, kids are more inclined to mosh just for the sake of moshing. For example, I attended a free Pursuit of Happiness gig at Mel Lastman Square on August 16, 1996 and there was a smattering of moshing for music that was hardly mosh-worthy. The mosh pit composition of that concert was 80 per cent teenagers, 5-10 per cent vagrants and 10-15 per cent “other”. Those kids (and displaced people) were moshing for the sake of moshing. So while TPOH were in fine form (as always), they didn’t really INSPIRE the moshing per se. It was circumstantial.
Do you follow?
An even more extreme example comes from a friend who says he and approximately 100 teenage boys from across Ontario moshed to a cassette version of the first Rage Against the Machine album in the summer of 1994. This took place at a tree planting academy (or something) and the pit apparently contained related activities such as crowd surfing, fist fighting and bullying(!!)
Now, details are sketchy (I’d be concerned if they weren’t) but the point is, young people are just looking for an excuse to run into each other. They would mosh to Frank Mills if given the opportunity.
So anyway, the ingredients existed for moshing to ensue at the Mikal Cronin concert and ensue it did. There was pushing. There was shoving. A couple of girls got squished against the low-slung Silver Dollar stage (although they apparently enjoyed it since they both sported ear-to-ear grins).
Cronin and his band tore through tracks like “Weight” as the moshing grew playfully furious. On a violence scale, I’d give this mosh pit a 1.5 out of 10. It was largely good natured from my stage-right vantage point and to the credit of the Silver Dollar staff, they even allowed an adult to stagedive towards the end of the set (if you can call jumping off a two-foot stage stagediving).
Hopefully Cronin himself can mosh (in a metaphorical sense) into greater notoriety because obviously if you can get 19+ music fans in Toronto to get all visceral and stuff at a show, you’re doing something right.
Aside #1: The Wikipedia definition of “headbanging” is quite amazing and thankfully, linked from the “moshing” entry. Details below although unfortunately, this entry is a bit thin on its “windmill headbanging” definition.
There are various styles of headbanging. Various styles are often mixed according to taste and to the tempo and heaviness of the music. They can also be performed with eyes closed and/or in combination with hand gestures such as the sign of the horns, singing, yelling, and lip syncing. Headbangers’ bodies usually bang with the head, reducing the strain on the neck and making the body move in a serpentine, up-and-down fashion to the music. There are a number of different stances a headbanger can adopt, from a wide stance with one foot farther in front of the other to feet wide apart to either side. The stance chosen is usually determined to gain the best base for the headbanger to keep their balance and avoid falling over. Another popular style of headbanging is windmill headbanging.
Aside #2: Here is a “wall of death” mosh pit video that is very dusty and frankly, a bit disappointing.