Mosh Etiquette Is Very Real, Very Important, And Very Much About Keeping Safe In The Pit

mosh etiquette travis scott astroworld

With the devastating news about a crowd crush resulting in multiple deaths and hospitalisations at Travis Scott‘s Astroworld Festival in Texas over the weekend, the conversation around mosh etiquette has emerged online. Though the tragedy that unfolded at the festival – which was broadcasted across social media by people on the ground – was evidently a perfect storm of several things, the importance of looking out for each other at live gigs has never been more relevant.

From the outside, mosh pits and the circle pits that break out can look dangerous. And if you’re in there with little regard for the people around you – they can be. But as someone who’s been going to punk and hardcore gigs and festivals for the last 16 years, there’s a shared, relatively unspoken, agreement when entering the pit.

First and foremost: if someone falls, you pick them back up.

Over the years, I’ve experienced plenty of instances where mosh pits have gotten a bit full-on. At a Yellowcard show in Sydney in 2006, I was in the crowd when the front barrier collapsed five minutes into the first support act. Another gig where I was on the front fence, I felt the crush of the crowd crunching my ribs before I got pulled out by security as soon as I asked. I’ve slipped over on the sweaty floor of a circle pit at AFI, and had hands on me as soon as I hit the deck. I’ve been at a Slowdive show where someone had an epileptic fit under the lighting. The whole set stopped, everyone created space, and the band didn’t start again until it was confirmed they were safe.

In none of those crowds did I ever feel like safety was out of reach, or that any requests for help would be ignored.

Watching the Astroworld footage, it appears the sentiments of mosh etiquette hasn’t yet transferred across subcultures of music fans, despite the stars of these communities calling for circle pits and wall to wall mosh pits.

When people with experience in punk, hardcore and metal scenes identified the lack of mosh etiquette on display in the hoards of people at NRG Park in Houston, there were replies like “that’s what mosh pits are like” and “everyone’s there to throw hands”. But that’s not the case. There are ways to mosh and slam dance safely, and it’s important we recognise and remember that. Not only after what happened during Travis Scott’s set, but for us Australians and our re-entry into crowded shows.

Moshing isn’t about getting into a mess of people and punching everyone in the head. Traditionally, that’ll get you either thrown out of the show by the crowd or security, or singled out by the band and then thrown out of the show. It’s about a release of energy, an interaction with the body, the music, and the emotion each holds, and by and large it all comes down to consent and having an awareness for the people around you.

If you see someone go down, you get them back up. If you come across someone freaking out, you ask if they want to get crowdsurfed to safety, protected by someone larger, or pulled out of there to part of the venue with breathing space. If someone gets seriously hurt, it’s about alerting security, getting a medic, and even signalling for the show to stop and space to be made.

Look hard enough and you’ll find countless artists advocating for the safety of their fans – everyone from Linkin Park to Adele. It’s an imperative part of performing to a gathering larger than the shampoo bottles in your bathroom, and that’s all part of the larger ecosystem of live gig etiquette.

Safety, genuine community-minded safety, at concerts of any size needs to come from the floor up as much as it does from the stage down. It’s an active dynamic, an integral part to maintaining a healthy relationship between artist and fan, and should always be in our heads the moment we step through the front gates and get that entry stamp, wristband, or ticket scanned.

Be safe, mosh responsibly, look out for one another.