Metal Mondays: No One Gets Out of This Pit Alive

A couple of Saturdays ago at the Carolina Rebellion music festival, Korn surprised an already-frenzied crowd when they brought out Brian "Head" Welch to perform "Blind," the first single from the band's '94 self-titled debut. The performance was the first time in seven years that Head -- at the festival with his band Love and Death -- joined the band onstage. I heard that the mosh pit, which was already a veritable dust bowl, was absolutely insane, as though the crowd was celebrating a rebirth of one of hard rock's favorite, most original acts.

There's nothing better than you and 10,000 of your friends pumping fists in a mosh pit. It's like the centerpiece of a misfit family reunion, all there because they love the music and found a place for themselves. Maybe life at home is shitty; maybe they need to blow off steam -- this is what heavy metal is made of.

Hearing about the Korn mosh pit, it made me A) Wish I was there, since Korn was one of my earliest favorites that first got me into metal, and 2) Think about some of my favorite mosh pit memories:

• The circle pit at In This Moment at the now closed (sadly) Clubhouse that was full of furious chicks.

• Rage Against the Machine's first reunion show at Coachella, where I was within the first 10 rows of people and waited hours to be there. A hundred thousand fans behind me, surging and pressing in closer and closer. Me, in flip-flops, begin tossed around the mosh pit like a rag doll surrounded by huge angry Navajos. No idea why I was wearing flip-flops. I broke three toes.

• Jumping from a two-story balcony at a Lamb of God show just to get in the mosh pit. I immediately slipped on the floor, slick from sweat, blood, spit, and beer (and probably some other things I don't want to think about coming into contact with) and sprinting away from security guards.

• A Comfort for Change show in 2006, where my older brother -- who's 6-foot-8, mind you -- was taken out from the back of his knees. I ran into the pit in a screaming frenzy, punching every person I saw . . . mainly because my mother's comment "someone's going to get hurt" as we walked out the door had just been validated.

• And one time, I saw Biohazard and emerged from the pit with a face covered in blood from a busted lip, much to the dismay of a good friend in whose wedding I was to be the maid of honor the following week.

Luckily, a couple shots of whiskey cleaned it right up, and the end result? I had lovely Angelina Jolie lips for a weekend. Don't judge my rationalization.

Then again, I am writing this on a plane -- headed home from seeing a Pantera cover band in Vegas for the night -- and the guy sitting next to me is warily eyeing me as I down a whiskey neat. He's been reading over my shoulder this whole time. Should I ask him his opinion of mosh pits?

But I've never had any real injuries, probably because I'm somewhat fucking smart about it. I don't think that I can hang with the hardcore moshers and skinheads, so I don't get involved when I see other people getting taken out.

Which brings me to a plea for my fellow metalhead ladies: Don't think you can take what those dudes dish out. While I don't doubt some of you can handle it, I've seen more girls dive into mosh pits and come out bitching about having guys grope them or getting hurt. Usually the unwritten moshing etiquette can be counted upon by heavy-riff-loving ladies, but at some shows -- I'm talking to you, Cannibal Corpse and Slayer -- you just never really know.

And as much as I love mosh pits, I'm not condoning violence. Sometimes I see skinheads and neo-Nazis at shows . . . knowing that I share the same love for this music as they do, it doesn't exactly make me feel like a winner at times. But music communicates differently to everyone, and moshing has been a part of several genres.

The term came into use in the early 1980s in D.C.'s American hardcore punk scene. It was originally spelled "mash," but due to H.R. of the Bad Brains Jamaican accent and constant use of the word (a band regarded as a band that put moshing on the map), the pronunciation turned to "mosh." By the time thrash-metal's Anthrax used the term in their song "Caught in a Mosh" it was a staple in the hardcore scene.

And though most metalheads have a vendetta against the early-'90s grunge scene, which evolved from hardcore, it was actually that movement that helped put moshing on the map, as well.

Mosh pits, obviously, are awesome and beloved by many. They are an integral part of the heavy metal experience, whether the musicians like it or not. In short, it represents everything a good show should be. Amped-up adrenaline flowing through your veins, mingling with whiskey, weed, and heavy metal fury.

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