Rage Against The Horizon // Celebrating the Beauty of The Mosh Pit

Filed under ‘collaborations I would have never predicted but actually make perfect sense’, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine has partnered with post-post-metalcore stadium conquerors Bring Me The Horizon for a rousing ode to live music and mosh pits.

“Let’s Get The Party Started” is a nu-nu-rap-metal party anthem designed to remind us of better times. The accompanying music video features clips of live concerts spliced with video memes and general footage of mayhem in the pit. Prominent footage from punk-hardcore archivist hate5six also features amongst the clips.

Rage Against The Machine were slated to make a huge comeback reunion world tour in the summer of 2020. This was at a time of particular political upheaval in the US and abroad – Trumpism, Black Lives Matter, the climate crisis…things felt like they were really coming to a head. A RATM tour was exactly what the music world needed.

However, with the advent of COVID-19 they had to postpone their tour from 2020 to 2022. In fact, those of us in Europe are still waiting for dates to be reannounced (still holding onto my 80EUR general admission tickets!!).

And so “Let’s Get The Party Started” comes at a time when punters are missing concerts more than ever. To become one with the heaving, sweaty mass that is a mosh pit, and to collide in congenial violence in the form of a circle pit or wall of death is a beautiful human experience. However, in a world of social distancing and infection rates…watching the lyric video feels like viewing a historical artefact.

In these stressful and existential times, a mosh would do us some good.

While much research has been published on the perceived dangers of heavy metal music and mosh pits in general, there is an argument to be made in favour of moshing. Researcher William Tyler Edwards writes in his thesis published by the University of South Mississippi:

[Moshing as a form of] dance can effectively reduce stress and increase self-esteem and a sense of belonging.

Dive Into The Pit (2013)

Furthermore, in a series of interviews by another researcher Joseph M. Barker in 2019, participants of mosh pits emphasised the pure “joy” of being part of a violent yet friendly mosh pit environment.

But it goes further than the individual experience. One of the best parts of being thrown into a mosh pit is the feeling of community. Despite the fists flying, acrobatic high kicks, crowd stomping and general chaos in the pit, everyone truly is in it together and usually on the watch for anyone who falls down.

From a wider social perspective, mosh pits are a perfect outlet for those who feel disconnected and isolated – a feeling no doubt intensified by the global pandemic. Evan Polzer writes on the significance of viewing moshing as a positive ritual vital to the punk, hardcore and metal subcultures:

In viewing rituals [such as moshing] as cultural activities that demonstrate trustworthiness, cooperativeness, and signals of safety and in-group affiliation, rituals act as a means of promoting social cohesion and belonging, bringing with them a host of cultural, social, and psychological benefits

Mosh Pits and Mental Health (2017)

Which is why even simply browsing through any of hate5six’s concert videos serves as an endorphin hit for those who can’t physically be present in the pit (also, age notwithstanding). Sure, hardcore dancing and moshing may look absurd to the outsider, but to those of us who love ‘getting amongst it’, it’s nothing short of pure joy. For those 45 minutes of a live gig, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what work or girlfriend issues you’re having, you’re here to throw down. Plus it’s a damn good cardio workout.

Thankfully, mosh pits may be back sooner than later. With vaccination rates on the rise, and live music returning in many countries (BMTH started playing shows in the UK this week*). it seems like we are on the other side of the worst of the pandemic.

Large scale events are slowly happening again, with strict COVID policies and sanitisation being put in place (you can even click here for a review of one such event in humble little Wollongong by Taylah Britt). Notably, tens of thousands of festival goers went to Lollapoolaza in Chicago earlier this year, with evidence showing it to be a super spreader event.

The apocalyptic times we are in and the accompanying spike in mental health issues really could use the catharsis of a sweaty mosh pit. As Oli screams in the breakdown, capturing the ecstatic feeling of being in the pit, combined with the need to feel something both physically and emotionally:

I’m so happy I could die right now

Someone f*cking kill me

It’s a heavy song that feels nostalgic for its romanticisation of mosh pits and concerts of the past. However, it really is imbued with a feeling of optimism and hope for the next chapter of live music. After this hiatus in live music, it’s about time we got this party started.

* Sidenote: the fact that BMTH is the featured artist on this track celebrating mosh pits and the like is also beautifully ironic, given their history in the metalcore/punk hardcore scene compared to their present incarnation as alternative rock mainstream successes. It’s a point of contention amongst some of the fanbase…but that’s a story for another time. You can click here to read more about BMTH’s evolution as a heavy act.

Published by Kevin Loo

Live, laugh, stare into the existential void, love

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