(Another State of Mind, 1982)
“Some people call it ‘slammin’ and some people call it ‘pogoing’ and some call it ‘the skank.’ But uh, I just call it ‘dancing’ cause that’s normally what you’re doing,” Brian explains in the above excerpt from 1982 documentary, Another State of Mind. He proceeds to demonstrate the basics of slam-dancing, an early form of moshing popularized by the punk scene in the early 1980s. While this may be the punkest instructional dance video in history, Brian touches on a very important aspect of show etiquette:
“And it doesn’t matter if you fall down or not ’cause your buddy’s gonna be there to pick you up. Or someone’s gonna pick you up.”
This is a generally agreed-upon concept between show-goers. Things can get pretty crazy during a show but no one should have to die as a result.
Of course, there’s always some asshole who doesn’t seem to understand this concept. One of those assholes popped up at a recent FrnkIero and The Cellabration show. Allegedly, one of the show attendees got violent: pulling hair, hitting and punching other attendees, and generally wreaking havoc in an otherwise tame crowd.
“Stop it or get the fuck out.” Frank Iero said, stopping mid-song to address the attendee directly, “You’re going to hurt someone.”
“Give her fifteen dollars. Get her the fuck out of my show right now.” Iero called to the show staff after the individual in question insisted they weren’t hurting anyone. The venue’s security team promptly removed the individual upon the artist’s request.
After making sure the other attendees were alright, Iero, the former rhythym guitarist of My Chemical Romance fame, spoke on the matter:
“Honestly? I have no fuckin’ time for that shit.” Iero explained, “We’re here to have a good time.”
This is where the punker-than-thou tend to roll their eyes. Who’s to say that getting rowdy at a show and having a good time are mutually exclusive concepts? Where do we draw the line?
(frnkiero and the cellabration at Brooklyn Night Bazaar in January 2015)
Incidents like this are nothing new. Artists have been calling out rowdy show-goers since Fugazi. Front-man Ian Mackaye is famous for his intolerance towards slam-dancing. As Michael Azerrad denotes in his book, Our Band Could Be Your Life, “The unrepentant would be hustled out of the venue and handed an envelope with a five dollar bill in it – the band kept a stack in an equipment box for just such occasions.” Iero’s “your money’s no good here” policy on kicking the attendee out almost mimicked that of Fugazi’s.
Unfortunately, addressing these individuals comes with it’s own brand of macho bullshit. Back in September of 2014, Barry Johnson, front-man of Joyce Manor, called out a show attendee for stage diving. “Seeing a lot of people online saying I’m a “pussy” and a “bitch” for calling out that grown man trying to crush a group of teenage girls,” Barry commented via the band’s twitter, following the incident.
But that’s just it: Punk isn’t just for grown men, it’s for everyone, including smaller teenagers.
If you look out into the audience at a FrnkIero And The Cellabration show, you’ll find die-hard fans, who have followed Iero’s work since the early 2000s. But in between those committed scenesters are doe-eyed teenagers with brightly colored hair. Some probably have arrangements to have their parents pick them up after the show. There’s even a possibility that, for some, it’s their first fucking show.
Iero and his band aren’t the first alternative artists to have captivated such a young audience, and they certainly won’t be the last, but it’s a reality that they handle with grace.
“If you see somebody get hurt, you help that person. If you see somebody go down, you help that person.” Iero explained to the crowd that night, making sure his younger audience understood an imperative component of ‘having a good time’ (a.k.a not dying) at a show.
There’s a reason band’s like Fugazi, FrnkIero and The Cellabration, and Joyce Manor play all-ages shows: Music is supposed to be an all-inclusive community.
This doesn’t mean that moshing, stage-diving, slam-dancing, or whatever Brian want’s to call it, needs to go away completely. Show attendees, especially the veterans of the scene, just need to consider their audience before jumping into the crowd, just as they’d look both ways before crossing the street. It’s not a shapeless, horror-movie-style blob of limbs and band tees and hair dye, it’s a large group of human beings with hopes and dreams, and sometimes, parents anxious to pick them up after the show.
It shouldn’t matter if it’s a punk group like Fugazi, a pop-punk body like Joyce Manor, or a post-emo formation like FrnkIero and The Cellabration, every show attendee should be able to go in knowing that ‘someone’s gonna be there to pick you up.’