She Speeds

I was turfed out of a Straitjacket Fits gig at the St James Cabaret in Wellington in the early 90s for stage diving. It must've been during She Speeds, my favourite song, and as I leaped on to the heads of my fellow concert-goers, I remember seeing a security guard wade into the crowd, on the hunt. He collared me and after a wee wrestling match pulled me out into the open as I protested about what his problem was. He simply pointed to the signs clearly displayed around the venue declaring "No Stage Diving" and pushed me towards the exit. Concert over then. Well, not before I turned around and gave him the birdy before running off.

No, I wasn't off my tree. I was just young and stage diving was fun.

Thinking back, those signs were ahead of their time because in the last 10 years stage diving and crowd surfing have been reasonably dirty words in music circles following a number of high-profile incidents where punters have died at concerts. During Pearl Jam's set at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark in 2000 nine people were trampled to death, and closer to home, a girl died at the 2001 Sydney Big Day Out during Limp Bizkit.

Last week a friend and I went to a gig headlined by mongrel punk metallers Cancer Bats (who were excellent) and current hot young things on the British metal scene, Bring Me The Horizon (who were good but hardly the great hopes they've been trumpeted as being).

With 400 or so other punters jammed into the Studio on K. Rd, there was some top stage-diving action: mostly of the "look at me, I'm on stage, and here I come" variety. Even the guy who leaped off the speaker stack did it with compassion as he seemingly tried to glide his dead weight on to the heads of the waiting crowd.

I'm not against stage diving and crowd surfing, or even that silly circle dance thing that builds up into a tornado of arms and legs to form what looks like a crop circle in the middle of the crowd. But, and call me Uncle Scott, there were a few brainless actions that stuck out.

First up was the guy who tried jogging across the crowd like a farm dog running across the backs of sheep.

Then, most brainless of all, Bring Me's singer Oliver Sykes, a heavily tattooed young lad with foppish hair, whose bark is clearly worse than his bite, called for a Wall of Death which his adoring fans eagerly obliged to form. The Wall of Death was made popular by American metal band Lamb of God - again, don't get me wrong, I like that band too - and it's a little like a game of bullrush set to music. Basically, the crowd split into two columns and when the heavy part of the song kicks in, or the lead singer tells you to, as was the case with Sykes, you run at each other like raving lunatics. At the Studio it was like a fight-training school for orcs.

It seemed to bring out the worst in some of the crowd who forgot their gig etiquette - of which there is no guidebook, but respect your fellow concert-goers is the only phrase you need to adhere to - and simple social graces. Nudge by, rather than barge. Go for the gap, instead of straight through. And by all means yell "excuse me" instead of elbowing me and the young girl in front of me in the back.

Bullrush was banned at my school and at the time, I thought that was pretty stink. But even though I'm likely to get an elbow in the chops for saying this, especially when Lamb of God play here next, banning the Wall of Death wouldn't go amiss.