Lilian Min
September 09, 2015 6:51 am

Oh, mosh pits: That staple of rock and punk shows in which you smash up against other concertgoers for an experience both uncomfortable and cathartic. At least, that’s the intent behind moshing and other crowd-oriented activity at shows like crowd-surfing; you enter into a tacit contract with fellow attendees to (literally) support each other, all while physically expressing your ~*feelings*~ about the music.

However, in part because more people from different backgrounds and identities now feel comfortable going to shows that used to have, shall we say, more homogenous populations, mosh pits and tightly-packed crowds can sometimes become spaces for the same sorts of institutionalized violence that we see erupting around the world today.

Enter: Indie rock band Speedy Ortiz and their safe show/safe space initiative. In an announcement posted to the band’s Facebook, they shared both new tour dates as well as a new resource for anybody who might feel uncomfortable or in danger at a show:

Band frontwoman Sadie Dupuis is an outspoken feminist, and the band’s lyrics quote the Ban Bossy initiative and express gender-based fears along with some savory guitar licks. Speedy Ortiz’s hotline is totally in line with their inclusive ethos, and though some might see it as an extreme response to the reality of rock shows, also true: The lack of action that’s been taken by show organizers themselves to look out for (usually female and/or queer) attendees.

Over the weekend, The Julie Ruin’s Kathleen Hanna (also of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre) spoke out about the problem during her set at female-fronted music festival Burger A Go Go 2. After one attendee repeatedly talked over and physically harassed other audience members, Hanna herself stopped the set to ask for security’s help in pinpointing and removing the harasser. Sure, it goes against what’s oftentimes seen as punk’s “anything goes” spirit, but it’s oftentimes those who most romanticize “the good old days” who are least affected by its worst consequences.

You can read Speedy Ortiz’s entire announcement below. We hope that other bands, if not at least other venues and music organizations, take their sentiment to heart.

Related reading:

Why going to concerts alone is actually the best

A history of my life in song lyrics

(Image via CarPark Records)

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