Mother Nature’s wrath didn’t stop thousands of avid head bangers from attending South by So What?!, heavy metal's and punk rock’s response to the monstrous South By Southwest, in Grand Prairie from March 14 through March 16. But, for a girl who loves blasting Katy Perry in her shower, the weather did nothing for my already rattling nerves.
By Alexiz Magro-Malo
Upon arriving at QuikTrip Park, I was immediately taken aback by how loudly I could hear the bands from the outskirts of the parking lot, stirring up anxiety in the pit of my stomach before I even entered the venue. Growing up, I gave Hilary Duff’s Metamorphosis CD a run for its money in the back of my mom’s car on the way to soccer practice, so to say this festival was out of my comfort zone is an understatement. Still, I steeled my nerves against the impending onslaught of metal bands and confidently walked in.
To say I was tulip in a field of thorny roses would be an understatement.
Among a large crowd wearing primarily black and sporting either Converse or Vans sneakers, I stood out like a sore thumb in my Nike shorts, t-shirt and Pali Hawaiian sandals. Oh, and did I mention I was wearing fuzzy socks with my sandals? But to my surprise, I don’t recall getting any weird looks from my fellow concertgoers. Had this been any other concert or festival, I would have definitely received some bizarre and judgmental stares.
I roamed the venue cautiously, making my way toward one of three stages where Soundings were finding their groove during their set. I’ve never seen such passion in anyone’s face. The atmosphere alone was contagious, and the whole audience was in tune with every song, especially when lead vocalist Jorge dedicated "Orphan" to his brother who recently took his own life. The crowd grew silent when Jorge poured his heart and soul into the song, but what really caught my eye was what was happening in the middle of the standing area — some otherworldly, contorted form of dancing, the likes of which I had never seen before.
Apparently, there’s a name to this alien movement.
To one of South By So What?!'s festivalgoers, Kris Green, moshing is a form of release. “Moshing is almost like a legal way to release rage. You can do it whether you’re super pissed off or for fun, as well," he says. However, Green also notes that there is more to moshing than blindly swinging one’s arms. “You can really tell an amateur mosher from an experienced one. It’s smoother and really goes to the beat of the song," he told me. But my lesson in moshing etiquette didn’t stop there.
Green and his two friends, Nato Paredes and Garrett Walden, also added that there are different kinds of moshing that take place in the "pit," such as "pushing." Push pits are the most dangerous, because, as the name would suggest, audience members hit and push one another. Green added that people don’t mind, because it’s about the music and relieving their own stress.
However, two-step and dancing pits, two other types of pits, take on a different fluidity. According to Green and his friends, the crowd just dances to the beat and moves its feet in this pit, and, although I can’t even begin to try dancing the way Green and his friends did, I at least understand where this type of pit gets its name.
I caught many other bands that day and had a generally good time at the festival, but my lesson in moshing had to be the highlight of my experience at South By So What?! Music in itself is a form of expression, and, while I may not express myself in the same way bands like Soundings or their fans do, I can’t help but respect it. South By So What?! helped me to better appreciate this form of expression and gain a different perspective.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll catch myself head banging and two-stepping to some of the bands I saw on display at QuikTrip Park in my bedroom after a stressful day.