Sunday, May 18, 2014


Last night I went to see Mastodon in Philadelphia. I could pontificate on how awesome it was and argue that the precision, aptitude and all around bad- assery of this Atlanta foursome has neither faded nor morphed into anything new(as critics and long time fans have alluded to from 2009's Crack the Skye album on...) rather the band has expanded upon what it has always been...a one of a kind metal experience that pretty much puts on a clinic for any modern metal outfit in their periphery or wake. But I wanna talk about the mosh pit.

Bill, Troy, Brann and Brent barely broke a sweat while their stiff metal fingers blurred skins and dulled frets. Yet this mastery, these songs and a bunch of burly buffoons were the fine ingredients sprinkled on a whirling human cauldron of sweat, stench, piss and vinegar just feet from the edge of their stage..known as the obligatory Mosh Pit.

From the Urban Dictionary: Possible origin of the word "mosh" - the word originated in New York in the early 80s. The previous word for the dance was "slam". The origin is probably Yiddish, as is "mish-mosh" - something all mixed up. It was a specific New York Hardcore variation on slamming which went in a circle (usually counter-clockwise with the stage as 12:00). There was a variation to slower, chuggy music called the creepy-crawly. It may have been Jimmy Gestapo (Murphy's Law) himself who coined the word.

Crucial Mosh, New York style! 
Ok, whatever. By design last night, I decided to venture into the mosh pit. My friend wanted to let off steam after a tough week of intense study and I wanted to get a closer look at the band. It has been awhile since I'd seen them live as I was strapped to a breathe machine in a hospital post asthma attack on the night of their last visit to Philly in 2012. I still have the untouched ticket. I seem to be more vertically challenged at general admission shows these days, especially metal shows. There is always an abundance of lanky leathered- up Lurches at metal shows, who tend to hold their ground unimpressed and arms crossed in the middle of the fucking floor, like a loch ness neck telescoping above a sea of black T-shirts with cryptic fonts. And they follow me, like hovering black clouds putting up a denim wall in front of me, needy, leaning in,marlboro light smellin' girlfriends in tow. 
 I haven't reviewed a show professionally in a while either (long story, but hit me up if you need someone who has experience) and didn't have the sweet combo of a press/photo pass and a plus one, either. So it was gonna have to be an old school excursion being whipped through the pit and  coughed up at the front to get the visual results we wanted. If you brave the pit, you can do a mosh charade in motion through the hellish hurricane as a short cut to the front. I thought I was prepared, as a veteran of 6-700 shows, packing on a post- 40 fifteen as added heft to strengthen my stance in this treacherous dance.
 But there are no real rules in a mosh pit. Security tightens up with a don't ask don't see don't tell mentality. Which makes it real loose. These paid cretins are not storm chasers, they want no part of the tornado in front of them, and are ensconced safely beyond the barrier..catching dehydrated or blotto-ed crowd surfers like foul balls in their triage bunker..and sending them on their way via escort or ambulance. Even a community help-your bro-up-when-he-falls is mostly all for naught when you add darkness and a blanket of black tees to the deafening roar of a wall of Orange amps in sync with the strobes. There were bodies on the floor, boots in faces, errant air jabs( a la old school punk rock) in the dark that landed on ruddy cheeks in bass drum- like thuds. There were helicopters of hair whirring into view and obstructing the path to that sweet spot we coveted..the other side of the stage and a mere plectrum toss from the Masto -monitors. 

My friend made it, being younger, smaller and faster and armed with a plethora of yoga positions in which to weave in and out of the fleshy shrapnel unscathed like fucking Neo from the Matrix.  Me?  The last time I was in a mosh pit proper was at a small Rollins Band in Buffalo, prob 1991, which coincides with the last time I ever spit out bits of tooth. Errant elbows are like medieval maces to a young jawline. That shit scared me then, and it scars me now.But there I was and there was no turning back. I hopped in past the obligatory "arc of bros". This is an(offensive) line of miscreant-ic mortals dressed in camo cargos and their favorite backwards cap at every hard rock/punk/metal show. They pepper the edge of the pit with their muscle for the main purpose of shoving any shaggy nerd into the maelstrom with roid effected snickers and high fives all around. When one member of the arc of bros does enter the actual eye of the human hurricane, it becomes ANYTHING but calm. Most of these cavemen lower their shoulders like strong safeties into unsuspecting pee wees and lift them like a bloodshot bull does to a skinny matador. And thats exactly what happened to me. I was airborne for two seconds( WHAT A VIEW!) and came down just in time to move out of the way of some serious meth-ed out sweat monster conjuring up something with an arsenal of growls and wind-up arms. I got bumped around like the meaty pinball that I am and thrown into it a few more times before joining my friend on the other side. We spent the entirety of Mastodon's set being crushed by the rippling, swaying tsunami of zombies behind us and I had to compete with a rotund metal lady's hamhock of an arm bitch slapping me in my face while she screamed "BILL, YOU FUCKING ROCK !"and making the "heart" symbol with her fingers .

I feel like the Seven Dwarves were all coked up and break dancing on my back and neck. I feel like kneaded dough today...and I'm slow to rise. But that was some show. It was like a spin class with a better soundtrack, bruises and no bikes. Stupid similes aside, I'm a happy man today....25 years between mosh pits is too long. I made it through. Now give me a fucking cookie and turn the music up.

Thank you Mastodon. I look forward to your new album Once More Around the Sun, coming at us in June.