banners

Thursday, June 13, 2013

MOSHPIT 101

This week's class is more of a lesson in pit vigilance, than a fun story of the past. I was on the Pantera/Sepultura Tour in the early 90's, as we all pulled into Baltimore one morning. It was a normal day. The venue was a big, outdoor facility, completely stuffed with Metal-dom...even the air reeked of Metal!!
Dime and Max
I was on stage right , the band was beginning to spark and the crowd was on the edge of a major eruption. I noticed a young, tatted and head shaved man standing in the front row. His tatts got my attention, but only briefly. What I began to focus on was the chatter between this young fan and the security dude in front of him. I could see there was a thread of irritation in the fan's face as he went back and forth with the security.

The band came on and I noticed the kid floating, having a good time and not coming over the barricade. Security Dude was not concerned with doing his job. He reached into the crowd and pulled Floater into the barricaded pit area and hauled him off. This set off a red alert in my brain and I asked my production manager, Bobby Thompson, to check on the young man and make sure the thug wasn't being unruly. When Bobby returned, much to my horror, he told me the security dude threw the boy down so hard, he didn't seem able to move. I ran and found Pantera's head of security, Big Val, and told him what I had seen. I can still recall the security dude because of his bowl-shaped haircut.

I never heard or saw anything more that day, and most likely assumed someone helped the fan and he was on his road back to every day Life. I was surprised when Paul Booth arrived in the morning looking for me. He explained he knew the fan and he had heard that I witnessed the event between security and his friend. When I said yes I watched the bull go down, Paul told me the boy had suffered a spinal injury and was paralyzed from the neck down! I was speechless. I felt guilty I had not gone myself to help.


Some months later, I testified over the phone on behalf of the fan and accused the security of abusive behavior, resulting in a man being paralyzed....FOREVER!!! A dude having fun in the pit and a jock being offended.... how many times had I stood on the side of the stage, scanning the crowd for trouble?? Many, many times, my students. When you see me on the stage, staring intently, that is exactly what I am doing...watching over my children in the pit and the tribe on stage.

I heard the sercurity got jail time and the young man received a settlement and moved to Florida. I really don't know what became of either of them. I know I never saw the fan in a tattoo mag again; he maybe never went to a show even for a minute, and most likely, never got to achieve his dreams. AND THAT IS NOT RIGHT!!

The moral?? Help your brothers and sisters in the pit. Be vigilant when you see abuse by security. Tell someone with the band or their crew if you see harmful behavior from the pit thugs. Security are hired to protect everyone. They are not hired to thump kids!! And lastly...do not be afraid to speak up! Justice deserves attention and sometimes doesn't come easily. I will be there watching for you!

Class dismissed...