No Bystanders: Mosh Pit Culture in Modern Rap

Rap music has changed drastically in the last decade from head-bobbing pop beats into a new heavy, loud, and distorted style. Rap shows nowadays match the energy of early punk rock shows in the ’80s and ’90s with all the mosh pits, stage diving, and rockstar personas. 
The punk rock aesthetic in rap music was born in the early 2010s as a counter-culture to the mainstream. The ones to pioneer the raw punk energy in rap were Tyler, The Creator’s rap collective Odd Future and the A$AP Mob. Soon Soundcloud rappers like XXXTENTACION, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Pump would adopt the same energy and evolve it into the rage culture we see now.
Travis Scott took this untamed energy in rap and made it his brand. 

The Origins of Moshing & Rage Culture 
The history of moshing goes back to the 1970s. The very first reported moshpit happened at the Roxy in Orange County when The Weirdos were playing. Then, moshing became a staple of many rock and punk shows. After that, the act of moshing became associated with any kind of performance where energetic music was played, and it makes sense that it would soon seep into the rap scene. As mentioned before, Odd Future became one of the very first rap artists to incorporate moshing, crowd surfing, and stage dives in their shows. As a result, rage culture among the rap scene explodes as many artists encourage fans to go wild, with Travis Scott pushing his fans to great extremes.

Mosh Pit Etiquette at Concerts
There was always a set of unspoken rules at every show I went to. I first witnessed it during my first concert when I was 16 years old. It was for Earl Sweatshirt’s debut album “Doris.” Earl was part of the controversial hip hop collective Odd Future. Anything Odd Future related was considered dangerous and violent, granted, they did have some pretty bizarre songs saying stuff like “Kill people, burn shit, fuck school.” 
The show had everything from mosh pits, crowd surfing, stage dives, and a few faceplants. It was extremely fun. There wasn’t a single moment where I feared for my safety. The crowd always adhered to the rules of the venue, people gave each other space when needed, and everyone rushed to help those who fell down in the mosh pits. There was a sense of camaraderie between the fans and it showed.
I continued to see fans carry on this mosh pit etiquette at almost every concert I went to no matter the genre.
There’s no way of avoiding accidents when people gather up in pits and start violently pushing each other. Usually, when someone joins a mosh pit, stage dives, or crowdsurfs at a show, they know they are doing it with a high risk of eating shit.  This didn’t stop me from going in because I knew that someone would help if anything went wrong.

Let’s Take Care of One Another 
Clips of artists stopping the concert to emphasize crowd safety have gone viral in the wake of Astroworld. A video with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington shows him chanting “If someone falls, what do you do?” with the crowd replying “PICK THEM UP!”
Another video shows Playboi Carti at Lollapalooza stopping his set midway to let the crowd know that people are passing out. Hopefully, more artists will follow suit.
Now more than ever, it is important for us to be mindful of mosh pit etiquette when “Raging” is such a big thing at concerts. A lot of the young music fans are experiencing mosh pits for their first time at rap concerts so it is important to emphasize the respect, consent, and safety that comes from the mosh pit culture of the ’80s and ’90s. 
However, I (Maria) believe that people, especially younger generations, need to understand the etiquettes of moshing. Moshing is not a free for all. It is a way to express your energy and let the artist know how you feel, but we should all be mindful of a few things. 

1. If someone falls, pick them up! 
2. Look out for one another.
3. Don’t deliberately hurt others. 
4. Listen to security and artists.

So next time you decide to join a mosh pit, remember there is an etiquette to moshing. Having fun and being free are essential aspects of moshing, but your safety and the safety of others are just as important. Remember that people are there to have fun and that certain lines cannot be crossed. We all want to have a good time! 

Marty’s Take:
My heart dropped when I first read the Twitter headline “Mass Casualties at Astroworld, Eight Dead, Dozens Transported to Hospital, Eleven Cardiac Arrests” (Now 10 deaths). I kept scrolling trying to figure out what the reason for these deaths were. “Trampled, overdose, crushed, overflow.” Headlines were saying that there was a massive crowd surge during Drake’s surprise appearance at the fest, causing a crowd crush. I couldn’t believe it.
I had to put my phone down after a couple of minutes of scrolling the news about the event. I was overwhelmed and I just kept thinking about the victims.
Here For the Rage 
I knew Travis Scott concerts were notorious for their intensity but it was a highlight of being one of his fans. The fans adopted the term “Ragers” to represent the wild energy that each individual brought to the show. For Travis, it was “rage or take your ass home” so I didn’t hesitate to see his set. 
It was non-stop jumping and pushing from the moment Travis hit the stage. The only way to avoid getting pushed around was to jump along with them. Every song kept the same amount of intense energy. It was one of the only few times I had to leave a set early due to exhaustion but I was still able to have fun and safely get out with my friends. Never could I have imagined that some people would be in a similar situation and not make it out alive.
Travis Scott went on to become one of the biggest names in rap music. The live performances were unmatched. Unfortunately this led to disaster. I can only speculate the reasons for the Astroworld tragedy based on what’s been released to the public but I imagine a lot could have been avoided if people in the crowd were more respectful towards each other.

Maria’s take:
In October, I went to a local IV show where a variety of bands played at. I remember having a really good time until I wasn’t able to move around.  People at this show wouldn’t move, and it was frustrating. I was very nervous about being so close to people and began to feel claustrophobic. Especially, as the crowd began to push one another getting closer to the area where the bands were playing. Eventually, one of the singers had to ask for space as the crowd begin to get closer. The show in IV reminded me of how moshing and the way we gather at music shows have been heavily influenced by previous bands and music cultures. Music brings us together, and it’s an amazing feeling to be around other people after almost two years of no concerts or shows. But, I couldn’t help to be reminded of how crowds can be so difficult to manage even at small shows especially in the light of Astroworld festival. 
Much like Marty, I was also absolutely shocked when I read the headlines about the Astroworld festival. I remember watching the videos of young people standing on ambulances. I could not believe how many of the festival-goers had no urgency to make room for EMTs. What surprised me the most was the behavior of Travis Scott, and how not once did not stop the show despite his fans pleading to him and his team to stop. This show eventually made me reflect on my past experiences with mosh pits and large groups of people. 
ASTROWORLD and my issue with self-proclaimed “Ragers” 
Now I cannot imagine going to a music festival where there were 50,000 people present and not escaping the sea of people. Instead, people push forward while someone tries to get out while attempting to maneuver against sweaty, drunk bodies. It seems futile. The artist who should be concerned for his fan’s safety only encourages the moshing, crowd surfing, and pushing to make the matter worse. Rage or get out, he says. 
Moshing has transcended genres over the decades, and with that movement, it means that many of the rules or etiquette of moshing are not explained or forgotten. Rage culture in rap music is quite different from what happens in a punk or rock show. The golden rule of moshing is that if a fellow mosher falls, you pick them up. Travis Scott and other rappers have abandoned this rule and instead have decided to pursue the image of a rager, and this is the issue I have with them. We should all have fun at a concert and choose if we want to join the mosh pits. The feeling of safety comes from the artist, the management, and the venue. If the artist only wants to keep up this image of a “rager,” and management and venues are only interested in the number of tickets they sell, it fails to create an environment for people to enjoy a show. I believe that at the end of the day, Travis Scott and his management team are the ones responsible for the tragedy that happened at Astroworld. They did not stop the show. They failed to secure barricades. This should serve as a lesson to artists and the management team who choose the festival’s adrenaline rush and profits over the attendants’ lives. 

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