I’m six feet tall and weigh 125 pounds. As you could imagine, I’m a pretty slight guy, so rowdy punk shows are a pretty polarizing scenario for me. It’s easy for me to crowd surf and stage dive due to my size, but I also get pushed around with almost no effort. I love stage diving and crowd surfing, but I understand how dangerous it can be and have definitely accidentally kicked people and whatnot in the process. I know I speak for the majority of show-goers that people need to wake up and understand that stage diving is dangerous, not only for the diver, but also and more importantly for the pool of people in the crowd.
Joyce Manor has been the talk of the town recently after their frontman, Barry Johnson, called out a fan during a show in Jacksonville, Florida for stage diving. Johnson brought him to the stage and, after asking him about his size, requested he didn’t do it again. You can see a video here and a poorly filmed one of a not-so-polite reaction at another show here. Take Johnson’s case how you will, but there is a much more important issue at hand.
Complaints about rough crowds at punk and hardcore shows are usually met with some off-the-cuff response like “you have to recognize your environment”. My response to anyone who says that is that you need to recognize your environment. The people standing in the crowd are not your punching bags. The people standing in the crowd are people. Last time I checked, no one is okay with getting shoved, punched, or kicked and especially not a fan of having large people land on top of them. However, when you go to a punk show and that happens to you, you’re expected to just shrug the violence off because it’s part of the scene. I don’t understand why such a stupid sense of entitlement at these shows persists, but somehow it does.
To quote a personal experience, I saw Into It. Over It. in February and was one of the first people to launch myself from the stage during the ripping opener “Embracing Facts”. The first second of it was sweet, as flying through the air without a vehicle tends to be, but eating the concrete floor after barely getting caught was decidedly less sweet. I stood up with a hand rubbing my shoulder and looked around to see very little stage diving or moshing in the crowd. A few gears clicked as I realized “hey, maybe I shouldn’t do that again because the crowd isn’t okay with that”. It took hurting myself and the people I hit to understand that I am not the only person there who wants to enjoy the show.
It really could not be simpler. Jumping from the stage and moshing with no regard of the people around you broadcasts the message to these other people saying “you do not deserve any personal safety”. Instead of expecting the crowd to be okay with brutish antics, take a second and look at how they react to the band playing. Consider your size. Are you larger than most of the people around you? Don’t jump on them. They’re there to see a band they like, not to get squashed.