With Randy from Lamb Of God in metal news around the clock this week after being held in Czech jail on manslaughter charges for supposedly causing a fan to die, I thought it was a good time to look at a few simple truths about show protocol and the politics of moshing and stage diving.
While I have categorized this article under the “funny” category, it isn’t a laughing matter. Shit, the whole thing is pretty serious but I will try and keep it light (and probably will fail). The “funny” thing is how much this sucks and how the metal scene still is so fractured we can’t prevent incidents like this somehow. I don’t know the solution. Anyone?
I had a bad day. When I am angry, metal comforts me. So does ranting. I am sure many of you can relate. Here are two simple truths which form my basic premise: 1. Lamb Of God will always rule. 2. While it is sad when shows turn fatal, every metal show is a risk.
Click here to read a few thoughts and show anecdotes about stage diving and moshing. This does not reflect the official opinion of Metal Riot (just my grumpy ass).
Here is a list of anecdotes and things to consider:
– Lamb Of God are one of the most spot on politically, metal minded and legit bands in history. They love and care about their fan base and have never made a bad album pandering to trends.
– If you step into the pit you have to expect that shit can go wrong.
– While it is truly sad the Czech kid died, there are conflicting reports of what happened. One story I read said that Randy beat up a bunch of fans on stage and bashed the kid’s head over and over for no good reason. This sounds out of character and for some reason I am more inclined to believe the fine and always great folks at Adrenaline PR who have said there wasn’t a fight. Other reports say fans repeatedly rushed the stage. Well, kids…when a fan rushed Mick Jagger once Keith Richards played baseball and whacked the kid in the face with his guitar. It’s on Youtube. That’s called Karma.
– I have had my nose broken from a spin kick at a Shadow’s Fall show and never reset my nose. I didn’t sue the club or the band or the kid who did it. I wasn’t even in the pit that time and he had just kicked into the crowd, but that’s the risk. I was supplexed by a giant dude with tribal tats at a Soulfly/Crisis/Twelve Tribes show at Irving Plaza once and thought I was gonna die. I got so high and dizzy and it was scary as fuck. I told Afzaal from Crisis that I didn’t need any beer the rest of the night because I was in another land. I bit through my tongue once after getting rocked in the face by a fat dude at a Crowbar/C.O.C. show another time (also at Irving, I think) but guess what…it was my own risk.
– I used to go to hardcore shows at Valentine’s in Albany, NY. I remember a great show with Boysetsfire, Snapcase and some other bands. We had to sign a waiver before entering that the club wasn’t to blame. Personally, unless it is a bouncer or someone from the club abusing power and beating up kids, I think liability waivers are crucial and great ideas. At the Snapcase show everyone watched out for each other and lifted each other up and it was awesome. My friends from Tainted Entertainment started using waivers before the violent metal shows they book and had one I even signed before attending a recent Watain show at The Loft in Poughkeepsie, NY. There was pig’s blood and slippery shit that could have caused us harm, but we all took care of each other in the crowd and it was awesome and while everyone went hog wild, no one was killed or went to the hospital.
– In the post Dimebag world, kids and venues need to respect how scary it can be for a performer to be rushed on stage. That said, we all come up in punk and metal and expect pile ons and crowd participation. All the bands I played in over the years growing up in Woodstock, Ny were friends with the Bad Brains because some of them are local. That means I used to see Darryl from the Brains side crossover rap/metal band Stealth play a lot with Murphy’s Law back in the late 90’s. Murphy’s Shows always have kids jumping on stage for ska madness or stage dives, but it is all about the love (even when you land in a pile and hurt yourself).
– Do you people really want shows to not have any moshing allowed or stage diving? Some venues and bands never liked the risk. I remember I saw the awesome Jon Spencer Blues Explosion once at The Academy when it was still on 42nd Street before Disney took over and all the hookers left. A kid stage dove and the show was stopped cold. You gotta realize this can be a risk for performers if there isn’t clear delineation about liability.
– The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY is an interesting example. They had to put a barricade in front of the stage that prevents stage diving, but ironically makes the mosh area front of stage so much more narrow and risky. I love that club, but that barricade stinks. I was singer in a band called Divest. We were on Dr. Know of Bad Brains’ FKM label he was trying to start in 2003 (which never got off the ground) and made a record with same producers as Coheed and Cambria.
Divest played a show at The Chance with Coheed and it was a great night. I believe it was the first night of their first ever headlining tour with Codeseven. My guitarist at the time, Dave “Wavis” Parker and I were on stage with Coheed during their set. I sang guest vocals on “Hearshot Kid Disaster.”
They played a good show that night and myself and many others dove off the stage. It was a great and high energy time that was one of my fondest show memories until my friendship soured with Coheed soon after. The crowd caught kids as they dove and respected each other. Still, the club put up a barricade a few months later and have had it ever since, because…it is really risky!
– I am firmly on Randy’s side in all of this and hope everyone can band together and support Lamb Of God because when one band gets targeted for an incident like this, it can hurt the whole scene. Let’s try and figure out solutions to this. Maybe there is some way Lamb Of God can console the family of the kid or start an awareness program to get kids to pay attention and wall of death in a more PC way. I don’t know. Fugazi has a point that moshing is pretty retarded most of the time. But it also can be liberating and would suck if rock n’ roll can no longer be a release because of bad mishaps.
– Lots of people have died from cars. You don’t ban the car. You discuss and try to find a way to make it work better.