When Hardcore Dance Becomes Hardcore Jerk

Speaking of The Funeral Portrait, it looks like vocalist Lee Jennings is a little worse for wear today after having been punched out at a show by a hardcore dancer last night.

According to Jennings’ Twitter, the person in question was getting out of control a little too close to the stage, and instead of moving it to the back at the band member’s request, decided to give him a new look. The action caused the show in Brunswick, GA to end “abruptly,” much to the regret of the performers. However, Jennings and The Funeral Portrait have been gifted with much support from friends and fans online following the incident.

But this event points to a larger issue. There has been a lot of debate recently about show etiquette, ignited by predicaments like the Joyce Manor stage-diving controversy and even the tragic death at Webster Hall on the night of a Miss May I show. It is becoming more and more popular to erect “no stage-diving” and “no moshing” signs at venues. It’s a precarious topic, especially when it comes to this type of music.

When it comes to hardcore shows, there is a bit of a historical and an ethical conflict with having any kind of “code of conduct” on the floor. It’s understood that you’re there to let out your anger and to blow off some steam. Half of the significance of the genre and what it stands for is about the live show. Hardcore has never been about playing it safe.

On the other hand, the argument can also be made that fans turn to music and to shows to find a safe space. Shows should be a good time and a haven for those who have been hurt elsewhere; a place for support and community. The last place someone should feel threatened is at a show.

As with anything, people tend to take sides, and they tend to take sides severely. It becomes an “either/or” screaming match about what ideas like punk and hardcore really mean and what it means to be part of them. As with most polarizing issues, my stance is not “this or that,” but “both.” For me, what it comes down to is this: Don’t be a dick.

At hardcore shows, you’re there to rage. You’re there to get rowdy and to let out your aggression because doing so in regular society wouldn’t be constructive or earn you any sympathy. Hardcore understands that, and so do I. I get bruises and sprained wrists and stomped ribs all the time at shows and I don’t complain because I know I put myself in the middle of the pit, which can be a violent place. Go mosh, go hardcore dance, go crowd surf, and by all means have fun. Understand what you’re accepting by putting yourself in those kinds of situations.

But maybe, if the band asks you to tone it down or to simply take a few steps back, you should listen. Maybe you should be open to what other people at the same venue have to tell you. If you’re getting too intense to the point where you’re pissing everyone else off at the show, maybe that’s not a good use of your aggression. Mosh, but mosh right. Hardcore is about the individual as much as the community. It’s an aggressive and safe space. There’s a way to get your energy out there without ruining it for everyone, and certainly without attacking the band you’re there to see.

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