The Great Stage-Diving Debate

By Devon Kay

…The same crappy debate that happened with Nirvana.


In the last few months multiple stories have erupted centered around what is acceptable behavior at shows and what is not. Bands from Tiger’s Jaw and most recently Joyce Manor have publicly spoken their piece regarding etiquette at today’s “punk rock” show. Please understand me. I’m not using the quotes sarcastically – I really believe that the definition of modern punk rock is getting so opaque it’s hard to truly define any more.

There have always been sub-facets of punk but there have not been such immediate outlets to complain about them. Sure, there were zines and slower forms of communication that lead to the public forum regarding issues, but in history we’ve never had such immediate response to events that would normally be forgotten in seconds. It leads to a very confusing and opinionated mash-up that I want to try and break down… cause you know, I’m the best.

I’m pretty non-bias when it comes to this stuff. I’m an idiot who loves punk and also thinks it’s more punk to not pay attention to punk. Confused? Well too bad. In short, I don’t care. I’m more interested in the what the people think as a whole at any given time because humans are just whacky.

SO we’ve got side A… Side A is nervous.

A little tired and somewhat leaning on the idea that since they paid their money they are given the right to a safe and enjoyable music experience. Fair. In fact super fair. Why wouldn’t the consumer deserve a safe and enjoyable experience on the item they purchased? It’s a practice as old as time and, to side A, it’s a rule that should be enforced without question.

If I go to a show I reserve the right, tall or short, fat or skinny, boy or girl to have a safe enjoyable experience. And god damn it you do. I’ve played a show where a girl was literally grouped in the audience. I felt guilty and embarrassed of my associated patrons.


SO we’ve got side B… This side is annoyed.

Fed up and generally confused when the buzz wore off. “We used to party,” they’d say. They believe that a show is a show a when you walk in you sign the contract that anything can and most certainly WILL happen. Why not? Punk is a symbol that represents the unexpected, the unplanned and the oddly unwelcome. You take a hit to the head from a crowd surfer, cool. G.G. Allin used to shit on people. Man up and take your story as a badge of honor.

So… What is it?

My opinion is that it will always be a strange balance. I was born on a set of unwritten rules that are as follows:

1. Pick up the fallen.
2. The center moshes.
3. The outside does not.
4. Keep surfers up.
5. Respect your fellow man/woman.

Yet, my rules aren’t universal.

On this last tour I met a crazy person who believes in something called a “Nazi Roll.” A “Nazi Roll” is a move that involves you sticking your arms in the air in a circle while moshing. I was informed that if this move is conducted in a mosh pit the audience reserves the right to “beat some ass.” Some people are stupid. That’s really what this all comes down to. In fact I’m kind of stupid so you never have to listen to acknowledge me.

Look there is no clear answer. My answer sways drastically given what band I’m seeing. Yet, one thing stays consistent.


Don’t crowd surf at a show that doesn’t want crowd surfing. On the other end, if your small and don’t want to be jumped on, don’t stand in the middle during a show when YOU KNOW there WILL BE crowd surfers. Don’t enforce the majority with something this pointless. I know for a fact at my shows I generally like everything. I like moshing, stage diving and the like.

The main rule really… Never disrespect each other’s space. Don’t grab girls, don’t kiss strangers and mind your alcohol intake. If we work together we can stop this squabble and band together to keep what is quickly becoming the strongest music community in the world.

I’m Devon Kay.
Give Me Money.