If you’ve never found yourself in the middle of a mosh pit, there’s a good chance that you can't understand what’s happening.
It’s easy to look at the men and women shoving into one another and think of it as an act of needless aggression at an otherwise friendly affair, but in spite of their destructive appearance, mosh pits come in many shapes and sizes — each one with different origins, intentions and outcomes.
There are times when the mosh pit happens onstage, with the band inviting it. Loafers guitarist and lead singer Eric Vaughn Eisenman remembers that the “craziest mosh we ever had was last time we played with Pink Mexico, opening for Together Pangea.”
“I told the crowd to come onstage for ‘Bobby,’ and like 30-40 people hopped onto the Lola’s stage,” he says, recalling the chaos that ensued. “They were knocking mics over and shit, unplugging pedal boards and shit with their feet. It was wild.”
The consequence? Eisenman says that “the sound dude got furious and said the stage almost collapsed.”
For other musicians, getting involved in the swarm can result in unintended bodily harm.
“I did chip two of my teeth jumping off the Reno’s stage into a tiny pit last year,” Zach Burns of The Grand Damns says. “Like three or four dudes were just trying to get the pit started, so there was a little pushing here and there, but it wasn’t much. “
To get things moving, Burns decided to jump off the stage and try to help.
"I was screaming into the mic, holding it with both hands, and the first guy I made contact with gave me a little shove," he says.
That’s when things got messy.
“When he shoved me, he pushed my forearms, and the ridge part around the middle of the mic hit my two bottom front teeth and chipped them off at an angle," Burns says.
The craziest mosh pits you in the Dallas music scene usually don't happen in traditional music venues. Many occur at house shows in Denton and Dallas.
Charlie DeBolt of Springtime and The Changes remembers when the band played the final show at a former house venue called The Rabbit Hole on a lineup including Acid Carousel, Trai Bo, Felt & Fur and Telemegasounds.
“I think over 200 people showed up,” he says. “The crowd was so wild, they kept pushing straight into the band and you could feel the entire floor shake.”
Kenneth Ramirez of The Thyroids remembers things getting a bit destructive when the band played Free Underage Cool Kids Fest in 2016.
“There was about 40-50 people in a small Denton living room,” he says. “There were people hanging off the fan, and they brought down a stuffed marlin shark. A lot of people were surfing the crowd. By the end of the festival, there was a hole in the wall, and by a later set, the ceiling fan was brought down.”
Aarón Mireles of Sub-Sahara says the craziest mosh pit he ever saw was at one of his shows.
“Sub-Sahara organized that show last minute, and I was surprised to see close to a hundred people show up,” he says of the crowd that filled a Casa Linda home. “There were beer puddles all over the floor. People were slipping left and right. There were crowd surfers and a beautiful ‘Bleeding Gums Murphy’ singalong.”
Things got crazy that night.
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“By the end of the night, our drummer had to fix a hole someone kicked in the ceiling," Mireles says.
Cole Denton of Sealion remembers one particularly wild crowd during his band's final show at the old Annex House.
“There was plenty of drunken debauchery, flying beer bottles. Our bassist at the time got 'iced' during our set,” Denton says, referring to the act of presenting a Smirnoff Ice to an unsuspecting friend who must get down on one knee and chug the whole thing. “It's totally juvenile but pretty funny as long as you're not on the receiving end. I'm pretty sure they ended up with some fresh holes in their walls. Good times for sure."
For all the damage that occurs to bodies, stages and houses, the moshers, crowd-surfers and ceiling-fan hangers make for memorable shows. It’s easy to forget a perfectly executed show that went off without a hitch, but nobody forgets the stage almost collapsing, broken teeth, shaking floors, holes in the walls or ceiling, or a giant stuffed marlin being passed around.