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Crowd Killing: What Exactly Is The Fuss?

Becci Stanley


Since the recent revival and rising of hardcore music’s popularity, especially in my local city of Birmingham, ‘crowd killing’, or what I prefer to call “being a pinball with fist and feet attachments” has raised serious debate. What is the point? Why do it? What comes next, band beating? And do you actually, really, deep down care about it?

To start off, I find the hardcore scene in general a little bit daunting, not even taking the possibility of getting my block knocked off into consideration. I am quite a fan of hardcore, from Black Flag and Minor Threat to Terror and Rotting Out, yet shows are always a little off limits. I, among many others, feel like an intruder within this music scene. I’m not a regular as it were at these shows and hardcore is like a family – everyone knows everyone else and if you’re not a regular…well you’re not a fan are you?

Well apparently. This is just the tip of the iceberg to me, when I get the courage to go. I’m nervous in the company of my own shadow sometimes, let alone people who will view me like a cat in a pit of dogs. Once I realise however that, actually, it’s all a bit of tosh how judgemental the ‘scene’ is, the show begins…

If I pay to see a band, in an ideal world I should be able to stand and watch without being purposely cracked round the head. Moshing is one thing – if you stand on the edge you are bound to get hurt, but it’s easy enough to move and the intention is not to hurt others. What I’ve experienced at hardcore shows is an entirely different kettle of fish however: punches thrown at people minding their own business, kicks in the face and the kind of stuff that would usually land people with a caution. It’s behaviour like this that puts many off hardcore shows – the fact that you have to watch your back and worry about getting hurt to see a band you enjoy. Is it really worth it?

On the other hand hardcore comes from the incredibly passionate and influential background that is punk, and hardcore is one of the few genres now that seems to encapsulate the messages that this genre holds so dear: unity, anti-establishment and equality. With a background as passionate and sacred as this, with music as violent and caustic as it is, is it any wonder people express this passion in such a violent way?

The strangest thing I’ve ever seen at a hardcore show happened while watching Dead End Path at The Institute, where a guy roundhouse kicked another guy in the face. Did a fight ensue you ask? Not at all – they shook hands and laughed! That’s the thing you see – it’s almost like a weird family tradition, like a film you specifically watch at Christmas. Lovers of hardcore accept this and as an onlooker, the element of danger mixed with the visceral lyrics soaring around packed, dingy rooms creates one of the most exciting atmospheres I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved with, and is one of the main reasons hardcore is making a strong comeback.

So, is ‘crowd killing’ dangerous and asking for trouble or one of the main thrills about hardcore? Really, it’s a bit of both. It may be a lot more prominent at hardcore shows but it has been happening for years, at various shows of various genres and is a risk you take. Maybe you shouldn’t have to take that risk, but hey, if you are seriously hurt or concerned there have been channels there for years that aren’t in the form of a status on social networking sites. Embrace it or fight it, there’s no chance of it dying down anytime soon.