This Throwback Thursday, we're taking a second to be grateful for the times we made it out of shows with mere bumps and bruises when things could have ended much worse for us. Everyone loves a good scar story, so we're sharing ours and want to hear yours!
Tell us about the most brutal pit you've survived.
When thinking of brutal experiences at shows, a lot of scary crowd moments come to mind—like having the wind knocked out of me at a show in 2006 when there was a surge that left me hanging by my ribs over the barricade, or being lifted off my feet by the pressure of stampeding My Chemical Romance fans racing into venues (which happened to me three times between 2005 and 2008; one of the times, I was completely catapulted over a security barrier at an amphitheater after which I sprinted and managed to be the very first person in the front row… suckers.) All gnarly crowds considered, I’m going to qualify this one by the visible injuries pictured here. In fall 2012, I was front row for Alkaline Trio at the Grog Shop. For those unfamiliar, the stage there is concrete and about shin-height, so if people are particularly passionate about a band, the people against the stage feelit physically. Within a couple songs, I was considering my future life as an amputee, because my legs were definitely going to snap, matchstick-style, under the pressure. My knees had rolled somewhere within my leg they weren’t meant to be, and I assumed I was bleeding all over somehow. For the love of the Trio, I powered through it, even as I was repeatedly knocked over onto vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba’s monitor. (I had little circle bruises all over my arms, reflecting the shape of the speaker.) At the 2:50 mark of the video above, you see Skiba step away from his mic for a few seconds at the apex of “97.” Good guy Skeebs was helping me up after a particularly brutal faceplant. Thanks, dude! —Cassie Whitt
In 2007, my friends and I drove to Philadelphia to witness Boysetsfire's final show at the sold-out Trocadero. The opening acts weren't exactly aggressive music (sorry, Tim Barry, but it's true), so we got lulled into a false sense of security and sidled up to the barricade. Now I hadn't seen BSF since Krazy Fest in 2001, and that was a particularly brutal pit. (I remember being a victim of head-walking early on, losing an earplug in the process, which then resulted in me switching my one leftover earplug between each ear after every remaining song like a total goober.) But I figured BSF's fans had mellowed with age. HOLY SHIT I WAS WRONG. From the second the band tore into “Release The Dogs,” the crowd—many of whom were only a phone call away from an AARP membership—turned rabid, and I straight-up got the shit kicked out of me. Now, I am not a small man by any stretch of the imagination. But I couldn't hang with the old timers for more than two or three songs, quickly bailing for higher ground. Shortly thereafter, a guy jumped off of one of the Troc’s balconies into the pit, literally right where I had been standing. The show was amazing, but I'm just glad I made it out alive. —Scott Heisel
In 2009, I drove from Cleveland to Detroit to catch the Warped Tour at Comerica Park. We got to the venue at about 11 a.m., and the Devil Wears Prada were already getting on stage to play. Even though they were the first band of the day, the crowd was packed. We were standing about 400 feet from the stage, next to the sound tent. As the band ripped into their first song, the entire crowd just went off. Upwards of five or six pits opened up throughout the sea of people. Within minutes, a circle pit formed around the sound tent we were standing. I have never seen so much moshing before noon. Thankfully, no injuries ensued, but I quickly learned that morning mosh pits are just inherently more brutal. —TJ Horansky
My mom loves festivals. You name it, she's been to it: corn festival, pork chop festival, Greek festival, British Isles festival, Dean Martin festival. And while I usually try to steer clear of her rabid festival-going (Eating fried food in 95-degree heat with 500 of your closest friends loses its appeal after about 20 minutes), there's one festival I'll always tag along to: the Irish festival in Dublin, Ohio. Dark beer, Irish dogs, sausages wrapped in puff pastry? You're speaking my language. One year—I wanna say the summer of 2002, which would have made me 13—Flogging Molly happened to be playing the festival. I had never heard of the band, but my hairdresser at the time–who's still one of the coolest dudes I've ever met—mentioned it to me and said I should check them out. I didn't bother listening to the band beforehand, which was my first mistake. If I had, I might have been a bit more prepared for their crowd. When I made it to the tent they were playing at, I got as close as I could to the stage. Second mistake. Without knowing, I had situated myself firmly in the thick of the pit. As I waited for the band to come on, I observed the crowd around me: older, college-aged kids who were loud and rowdy and throwing back beers like they were water. And yet, I still had no idea what was about to happen. I'm not sure what I thought was going to happen. That the band would come out, we'd politely clap and then just tap our feet to the music? I was about to find out. Finally Flogging Molly came out, but I barely caught a glimpse of them before everyone behind me pushed forward. “They just want to get closer to the stage; no big deal,” I thought to myself, even though I was getting a bit worried about what I had stepped into. Then they started playing and all shit broke lose. Suddenly I was being thrust backward and forward by a sweaty mass of people who had apparently been saving all their energy for this very moment. I'm pretty sure my feet came off the ground by the sheer power of all the people pressed on me—no small feat when you're 5-foot-10. I didn't even have time toconsider reacting. All I did was look frantically around and pray for the drunk guy behind me to move about three inches away. Finally, help swooped in in the form of my older brother. After giving him an “OMG, WTF?” look, he reached in, grabbed my hand and dragged me out. Good to know older brothers are good for a few things. —Brittany Moseley
Being involved in the Midwest hardcore scene over the past two years, I’ve endured my fair share of unforgettable mosh pits. Everything from broken bones to stone-cold knock outs; the pit can be a very treacherous place. As for the most intense pit I’ve ever come in contact with, I would have to say it came the first time I ever saw Gideon, in the summer of 2012. It was the Indiana date of that year’s Scream The Prayer Tour, and at that point, I wasn’t exactly familiar with pitting or the aesthetic surrounding the artform. I was under the assumption that all a mosh pit entailed was a bunch of people running into each other—and it essentially is just that. However, a glance beneath the surface will show a multitude of separate aspects. As soon as the feedback from the band’s guitarists began ringing out from their amps, various kids started running the length of the stage and barreling their bodies into those beneath them at the other end. Inside the pit itself, limbs were flying from all directions, bodies were piling on top of another in attempts to snatch the microphone from frontman Daniel McWhorter, and a barrage of two-steppers who could take a fist to the face and continue on seemingly unphased, never once missed a beat. As for myself, I was standing on the outer edge of the pit taking a barrage of fists and elbows to my head and neck regions, paying more attention to what was going on right beside me, rather than what was happening onstage. It was like nothing I had ever seen before; the sheer violence coupled with an unparalleled sense of family and camaraderie had my fascination in a chokehold. Gideon’s performance that night lead me to being welcomed with open arms into the hardcore community, a place I happily call home today. —Tyler Sharp
GUNS UP! @ HEART FEST, 2013
Heart Fest 2013 in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada definitely had a fertile pit for the entire day: no security, free-range mosh. Since day one headliner Guns Up! hadn't played in years, hundreds of hardcore bros with backed-up testosterone let loose in a modest-sized room. About five songs in, some guy moshing in the back knocked a girl unconscious. Brutal in the worst way. Everyone had to clear the venue as paramedics rushed to the scene, the fest got shut down and that was that. —Brian Kraus
Getting to see In Flames in the States is a pretty rare opportunity, so my friends and I were pretty excited for their Sounds Of A Playground Fading tour. When a bunch of guys (who if born in another time probably would’ve been murderous Viking raiders) play a show, you can expect the pit to be pretty brutal. I had recently turned 21 and was still in the get-intoxicated-at-every-show phase. A massive, thunderous pit opened up to the sound of melodic death metal and Nordic mythos. In my drunkenness, I wasn’t fazed. I floppily jumped in the middle of the pit (still holding my Long Island iced tea), and was instantly crushed by a horde of rabid, “professional moshers.” The nice thing about professional moshers: they help you up when you’re on the ground. —Matt Crane
I’ve been in dangerous pits where I faced off against bro-dudes, meth addicts and drunken dudes waving flags of other countries as they tried to stomp on my head. But I picked this show for both violence and weirdness factor. The fans were out in full force when Motion City Soundtrack hit the road in support of their second disc, Commit This To Memory. And why not? The album was a piece of pure pop perfection, anchored by MCS’s signature song, “Everything Is Alright.” My friend (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) suggested we have a competition to see who gets to the barricade faster, with the loser buying the winner lunch. I took the deal—and then I took the lumps. I walked toward the front of the stage, populated with several hundred girls aged 14 to 24. Prior to the set, my two big thoughts were being excited to hear Commit songs live, and where I was going to make my bud take me for sushi.
As soon as they came out and played the first song, my next thought was, “How am I going to stay alive?” Cell phones were the new brass knuckles, and if you ever caught the edge of one on the side of your head, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. One well-fed female actually called me “faggot,” because I wouldn’t lift her up on top of the crowd so she could surf up to the barricade like a salmon in the falls. I was close enough to the front that guitarist Josh Cain saw me and openly laughed onstage; that tender moment ended when another girl dived on my head. I left the show with legs, face and ego bruised but still okay in the wallet. My buddy didn’t make it to the front either, so we called it a draw and bought our own $5 hot dogs as consolation prizes. —Jason Pettigrew
Being the tall, uncoordinated chap that I am, I seem to lack the general instinct to hurl myself in the direction of recreational danger. However, while I wasn't exactly in the thick of it, the most brutal “pit,” er, straight-up riot I've found myself in the midst of was during Rage Against The Machine's performance at Lollapalooza '08. Opening the set with “Testify” and “Bulls On Parade” prompted circle pits, and, soon after, fans were fighting, hopping barricades, breaking down the festival walls, and overpowering security in order to get as close as possible. In the front, kids were being crushed against barriers, hurled towards the stage, and blocked and knocked onto concrete as they tried to escape. Frontman Zach de la Rocha soon noticed, attempted to talk the crowd down to some avail, and, miraculously, the group were able to finish their set. I soaked up most of the chaos from the side of a sound booth I managed to climb, and, fortunately, escaped unscathed. —Philip Obenschain