Exploring The Sweaty Crunch and Release of Mosh Pits


When I spoke with No Air Guitar Allowed author Steve Weinberger about his new book back in April, we talked about many aspects of live concert culture. But I wasn’t able to fit everything we talked about into the original interview post. So in this three part series I’ll be sharing with you three topics that were not included in the originally posted interview. 

Part One: What’s the Purpose of Mosh Pits?  

Part Two: Crowd Surfing Through the Mind of Dave Grohl

Part Three: Can Rock Concerts Reshape the Family System?

And like always, my conversation with Steve was just the beginning to the larger conversation with you.  So as you read this short series of reflective snippets from the original interview, please feel free to join in the conversation by adding your own comments below.

What’s the Purpose of Mosh Pits?

Mosh pits are one of the most interesting and fascinating phenomenons of live concert culture.  They’re such a major part of concert culture that some have even taken the liberty to right down actual mosh pit rules and guidelines to follow.

Having been in several mosh pits myself over the course of my concertgoing career, I know that mosh pits can be euphoric, exhilarating and dangerous places to enjoy music and express yourself.  Every time I see a mosh pit begin to twist and snarl at the foot of the stage, I wonder who created mosh pits and what purpose they serve for concert fans who love to create them.

Here’s what Steve had to say when I asked him about mosh pits.

LF: Do you have any ideas on why mosh pits exist? Do you think fans who love mosh pits get an endorphin release that makes them want to be in a mosh pit?  

Steve: From a physiological perspective, I don’t fully understand the whole concept of mosh pits. But I do have some theories and ideas about why they exist. I think hat there are many ways fans connect with each other at at concert. And when fans take part in somethng like a mosh pit, I believe the mosh pit allows the individual fan to make the ultimate connection to the larger group of fans. I figure it’s also a powerful connection that they might not experience anywhere else in their life so they do it a concert. I would also say that mosh pits are one of the ways that fans celebrate the feeling of the music with each other. 

At some level, though, I do think that people who enjoy mosh pits are receiving some kind of emotional or chemical release that’s pleasurable. It’s their way of connecting with the show and other concertgoers all at once.


Are Mosh Pits Extreme Self-Expression or More Like Sweating to the Oldies? 

Steve’s responses really got me thinking differently about mosh pits.  I’ ve started to wonder if fans who enjoy mosh pits use it as a form of self-expression, or even exercise.  It’s easy to dismiss mosh pits as places of pain, negative emotion and juvenile displays of aggression. But I think there are other ways to look at mosh pits that might show us more about those who enjoy mosh pits and those who don’t. And I wonder, would a closer study of mosh pits show us how we’ve evolved as a culture when it comes to expressing ourselves in a large group setting?

We’ll definitely explore the origins of the mosh pit more on Live Fix. And I’d like to start by getting your take on mosh pits.

Are mosh pits…good? Bad? Helpful? Important? Worthless?

Have you ever been in a mosh pit, or watched one from a distance?

All photos and images in this series are provided courtesy of Steve Weinberger from No Air Guitar Allowed.

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