TRNQT and Crowdkilling: The Extent of Violence in the HXC Scene

Artwork by Max Kolomatsky

Artwork by Max Kolomatsky

by Emily Bunn

On September 24th, hardcore band TRNQT (pronounced, “tourniquet”) played a show in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where they opened up for a hardcore front-runner, Knocked Loose. The music of both TRNQT and Knocked Loose is very heavy and aggressive, often spurring mosh pits and circle pits. Many fans do participate, and the energy and emotion put into this cathartic dancing are seen as a release of many of the emotions in which the band's songs are about. This catharsis can quickly turn to violence, however, when “crowdkillers”, or those who dance (typically spin-kicking or punching) all along the borders of the pit with the intention of hurting the crowd.

During TRNQT’s show, the guitarist of the band struck a member in the crowd on the head with his guitar case, along with the rest of the band also throwing their mic stands and guitars into the crowd. The original impact of the first guitar left the patron, Jeffery Esgro, with a 6-inch gash down his forehead, $6,000 in medical bills, and seven staples down his scalp. The band never (or at least, still has yet to) make a statement on their behalf, and the situation has largely been left unmoored. Clearly, this situation should never have occurred; just standing in a crowd should not result in near-fatal injuries.

On a less aggressive, intense scale though, many fans do leave heavier shows with injuries from mosh pits. Even though fans purchase tickets knowing the shows they go to will be aggressive, should this behavior be tolerated? To what extent do fans “sign up” for aggressive behavior when they purchase a show ticket? While these questions are broad and difficult to contemplate, I sat down with one of my friends, Quinton, who is both invested in the hardcore scene as well as who works as security the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where hardcore shows frequently are hosted.

Do you think that people buying tickets to a heavier show means that they should expect and be okay with some form of aggressiveness in the crowd? (people pushing, mosh pits, crowd surfers, etc)

People should expect some aggressiveness in the crowd, but not be expected to participate. People can choose whether or not to be in the pit, but its just sort of part of the community to push around and have people dancing.

What is your view on crowdkilling? Should it be allowed?

Crowdkilling should be allowed. If people are already participating in the pit, they’re already signing themselves up to be around other people. I don’t think that crowdkilling should go beyond the inside of the pit though. As long as it's contained within people who want to be involved, I don’t see a problem with it.

When is the moment of security intervention necessary, as opposed to people just having fun and participating in the crowd?

At these types of shows really security doesn’t get involved much since moshing and all is part of it. If someone is in the front just punching people standing around or not taking into account their appropriate settings, then they will be thrown out.

How often does security have to get involved in hardcore shows?

Typically, at hardcore shows security guards really don’t intervene unless there's been an accident. The culture of the hardcore scene encourages moshing and moving around, and mostly everyone is a part of it. It doesn’t become a security issue unless someone is hurt, or if someone is blatantly going around trying to purposefully cause harm to bystanders, obviously.

What is the most serious injury you’ve seen as a security guard?

Recently, someone in the crowd did a stage dive off of the stage and landed on someone else. The person they landed on ended up falling down and hitting their head pretty hard, which caused them to pass out for a second. Fortunately, a lot of times at these shows its the same groups of people, and the guy seemed to know a few people there who helped bring attention to the accident. He ended up waking up quickly though and seemed to be able to walk it off alright. I haven’t really myself seen or had to deal with too much violence, luckily.

Have you ever crowdkilled?

No, I’m not really into crowdkilling. It's a little aggressive for me, I’d rather just mosh. But I do like to go into the pit, crowd surf, and stage dive.

Overall, by talking to Quinton I was better able to understand the dynamics of the hardcore scene from a new perspective. Discussing hardcore etiquette and experiences with Quinton was especially interesting as he has experienced being on both sides of the barricade. While the hardcore scene can be quite aggressive and intimidating, gaining deeper insight into the culture of the scene brought a new light on the genre.

WECB GMComment