Hurt: Concert Injuries In And Out Of The Line Of Duty
About ten days ago, my parents and brother came into Houston for Sunday dinner, and I noticed my brother - whom we'll call "John," because that's his name - was limping something awful. It turns out John decided to take a spin in the mosh pit at the end of the Bad Religion show I assigned him to review (because he asked), and got knocked on his ass. Or knee, to be exact, but he'll tell you all about it in a bit.
Earlier this week, John proposed the idea of polling the other Rocks Off writers for their own concert first-aid experiences. I thought it was a great idea, because I don't have a similar tale to tell. Over the years, I have been to literally thousands of shows, and have been either lucky or smart enough to avoid getting seriously hurt at any of them. Between you and me, it's probably luck.
There have been a few close calls, mostly due to environmental conditions. At both the 2005 and 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festivals, the severe drought conditions and considerable winds blew enough dust into my lungs (and everyone else not dressed like Jesse James) that I got light-headed and nearly fainted more than once. Other than that, my biggest problem is claustrophobia, the prospect of what might happen in a room filled well over capacity - Smashing Pumpkins at Liberty Lunch in Austin in 1993; Jay-Z at House of Blues' grand opening party here a couple of years ago - more than anything that actually has.
Myself and the rest of team Rocks Off hope their tales of in-concert woe bring you a little late-afternoon amusement. Maybe they'll even keep you out of a similar situation at some future show. Each story is different, of course, but the bottom line seems to be the same: Stay out of the damn mosh pit. - Chris Gray
John S. Gray: Having been a Bad Religion fan since I was 14 years old, watching them up on the stage 17 years later and singing along to my favorite tunes may have induced a sort of concert euphoria. That's the only reason I can come up with for why I moved up to the front for the encore, directly into the area where I knew full well a mosh pit would break out.
Sure enough, the band came out and ripped into "Generator" and the pit immediately exploded. I figured "Hey, I'm only 31, I can hang with these kids" and allowed myself to be pulled along in the swirl, slam-dancing with the others. It wasn't long before I was cast to the ground, all of my considerable weight coming down - at an angle no less - onto my right kneecap.
It hurt. A lot. Some kind soul helped me to my feet and I hobbled right back to the front of the stage where I watched BR finish their encore, painfully aware of the throbbing in my knee and something warm and sticky running down my leg. Sure enough, I went to the bathroom after the show to discover that I was bleeding all over my jeans, which now had a giant hole in the knee. $200 Lucky Brand jeans! I mean, I got them for $15 at Sand Dollar, but still.
The scab was raw and sore while it was still fresh, and my knee swelled up alarmingly due to all the bruising. I had it checked out and found out it wasn't fractured, I'm just a gigantic pussy. It's almost totally healed now.
Neph Basedow: In December 2000, my 17-year-old self traveled to Chicago to see what I thought would be the Smashing Pumpkins' final show. It was frigid in Chicago that time of year; I'd say it was in teen temperatures. I was an admitted fanatic of the band. I even arrived at the Metro the night before the show and camped out in line with all the other crazy diehards, having "borrowed" our hotel-room blankets to keep warm. The 1,000-capacity venue was only half-full with fans; the other half was friends and family of the band. And critics.
The energy inside was high, to say the very least. We committed fans knew this would be the final time seeing our favorite band, as they were, their original(ish) lineup. Over half-way through the set, nearing its third hour, the band played an even rowdier version of "Fuck You (An Ode To No One)."
And so commenced the '90s mosh pit we'd hoped would retire with the turn of the millennium. One of the few girls so close to the stage, I found myself amidst a huge, rambunctious, sweaty mass of moshing dudes. One of them crowd-surfed, and his combat boot nailed me in right in the forehead. I had a nasty, colorful bruise - or, as I referred to it, a proud "battle scar" - for nearly a week.
Pumpkins fans were competitive; during one of the band's countless encores, some girl even younger than I was violently tried to inch her way past me and the other surrounding fans; we'd stood in the same spot near the stage for nearly four hours (the set ultimately spanned five hours total). She was pressing into me - hard - trying to make her way in front of me.
This time around, I was the one to blame (take credit?) for this random act of violence. I shoved her. With all my might. While I don't think I caused any injury, per se, it was enough for her to retreat toward the back, where she belonged, and I was satisfied.