As previously mentioned on Cataclasis, I went to a great show on Friday: All Shall Perish, The Warriors, and Terror. It was a great show, lots of energy, all the bands were tight, the music was loud, and the crowd was sufficiently brutal. (The Warriors are easily one of the single best bands working in hardcore today.)
Luckily only 1 fight broke out. Unfortunately it was right in front of me - I was standing right behind some kid that just start throwing punches.
The way I see it, Fights at hardcore shows can be categorized into two main groups: 1. The Thug fight, and 2. The out of nowhere crazy fight.
The Thug fight is pretty lame, its easy to see it coming. Here's how it works:
A Thuggish, jarheaded dink, usually sporting a pot-belly and really shitty prison-style shoulder tattoo (think Taz holding a 40oz of Colt45) walks into the middle of the pit during a given song. His lower jaw is pushed out forward, bottom lip is upturned in his toughest grimmace, and his chest is all puffed up. This pinhead proceeds to start a slow, ridiculous boot-stomp that completely goes against the grain of what everyone else is doing.
He's going into the pit looking for a fight,a and everyone around him knows it.
Guys like this are usually pathetic racist-skinheads, non-hardcore kids, and/or I hate to say it - Military people (yeah, military people are the worst, because they are usually in-shape, strong, have never been to a show, or only been to a few, and they can do alot of damage). Suprisingly with the resurgence of "tuff guy" hardcore (bands like Bury your dead, first blood, etc... I see alot of military people at shows, whereas in the past I'd never seen anyone in the army at a hardcore show)
Anyhow, someone hits the guy. Whether by accident or on purpose, someone starts something, a swing across the back of the head, a kung fu kick to the spine, an elbow to the throat, whatever....
Naturally the thug fights back. since these people are more often than not out of shape, its kinda funny to watch, a lot of wrestling moves are involved, not alot of punches are thrown.
Security is usually on top of people like this, because, like I mentioned, you can spot them a mile away. They usually last only 1 band and are routinely kicked out of the show before the headlining band even gets to the stage.
2. ....And then there's the "out of nowhere crazy fight". I hate these fights and unfortunately this is the type that broke out in front of me on Friday. It goes like this:
Seasoned hardcore kids are usually involved. Someone is circling through the pit, hits someone else, pretty straightforward. That person gets pissed off and throws a punch back.
...But then, out of fucking NOWHERE 10 people on each side of the fight (usually friends of the two people starting it) just start pounding on each other. its fucking intense, it can involve the entire pit, people around the pit, side fights break out, and security can't contain it.
Its especially dangerous for a few reasons:
1. You don't know who-knows-who..the guy next to you might be just some guy, or he might be the best friend of the girl that just got kicked, and therefore, he might be ready to pound the shit out of anyone that gets near, or he might not. Trying to break up this fight might implicate you with one side or the other, and invite people to pound your face in.
2. There's usually a lot of people involved. More than 5 at least, usually about 10 people total. this type of fight can either stop the show completely, or the band won't realize its a fight, and it will just snowball.
(One side note: the most fucking brutal show I've ever been to was Integrity in 1993 at Marty's in Mankato Minnesota. There was a lot was involved, enough for its own post completely, but suffice it to say, a MASSIVE fight broke out. Integrity didn't stop playing, and in fact made it worse, I ended up getting punched about 6 times, one of them by Dwid the singer for integrity and chipped up my front teeth. The fight lasted a good 10 minutes... The rest of the show was SUPER high tension, and Integrity, and already violent band, just aggravated to the point that the entire show was basically just a massive street fight...it was both beautiful and sickening)
3. These fights quickly re-erupt. The fight starts, gets broken up be security, the bands tarts playing, and 2 of the guys who weren't initially involved are just pumping adrenaline now and the slightest fucking movement sets them off and the fight just keeps going.
This happened on friday. The fight broke out in front of me, security stopped it, threw out 2 people, and then as soon as the music started back up, the guy who was standing next to me started yelling "yeah motherfucker, you want this? lets go you fucking faggot...." etc... and BAM the fight started all over again.
What'd I do? I do what I always do when fights break out around me at shows: Hold your mouth shut, and breathe through your teeth (that way if you get hit, you don't have a great of a chance of chipping or breaking teeth), hold up both arms in front fore-arms horizontal. Then get in a lower stance, legs apart, ready to either back away or move forward (remember, the fight might also come from behind you!). Then, just fucking wait it out. NEVER push!
You might say that i'm kind of a wienie for doing that, but 1. I'm 31, I've neither the patience, nor the willingness to endure pain that I can easily avoid, and 2. I've been in real fights at shows, taken a side, etc... its the easiest way to get thrown out, and it usually ruins your night.
these days, I think fights really just ruin shows. hardcore shows can be some of the most adrenaline inducing, aerobic, ultra-power fests that make you just feel great...
Fighting ruins it all by killing the momentum and mood of a crowd, slowing down the pit, stopping the stage dives
Here's a classic example:
check it out, an awesome show, kids everywhere on the stage, people moshing, stage dives, looks like a great time, then two knuckleheads get into it, drag it onstage and before you know it, there's like 15 people involved, including the bassist for the band who throws his bass into the fray.