University College London researcher Lindsay Bishop spent three years touring with bands like Fear Factory, 3Teeth, Mortiis, Pig and Combichrist and interviewing hundreds of metal fans to come to a very strange conclusion about moshing. According to Bishop, the act of moshing mimics a form of controlled rituals performed by indigenous rainforest tribes in Papua New Guinea.
To elaborate, moshing is a form of controlled chaos where people follow unspoken rules that are passed down from generation to generation. Here’s more about the study, courtesy of The Daily Mail.
“Ms Bishop found that older generations of metal fans pass on mosh pit etiquette and behaviour to newcomers and younger generations. She said this ensures an environment of ‘controlled chaos’, including an implicit understanding that ‘moshing’ is not a fight but a way to release tension. ‘Unspoken rules’ outline that the ‘pit’ is voluntary with no pressure to join, and that those who fall over should be picked up immediately.”
Bishop says the metal community is not as brutish as outsiders might think, and says instead it’s more of a “complex, inclusive and global community that now encompasses several generations.”
“The shared camaraderie, etiquette, camaraderie and catharsis, mirrored traditions of behaviour similar to Papuan tribal communities, she said. Conventions of the Malangan culture, in which shared objects and sculptures are used to remember past events, parallel the collection of dated tour T-shirts, or band paraphernalia like drum sticks or plectrums thrown from the stage.”
So there you go. You’re all more complicated than you thought!