It’s nearly impossible to read anything about this year’s class of indie, pop, or R&B without being insistently reminded that the ’90s are back. And while that’s exciting for those of us who remember how great the music was back then, it’s also brought few other unfortunate side effects. Most annoying among them, particularly for those who don’t want to go to shows in full hockey pads (although, come to think of it, that would be super ’90s), is stage diving.
While stage diving never fully went away, of course, the resurgence in pop-punk and our new favorite genre mutant, grunge-core, has brought the death-defying expression of youthful abandon (a.k.a. stupidity), back to the bigger clubs in Boston. For example, the all-ages Title Fight and Balance and Composure show at Royale on Thursday night looked more like a gymnastics meet with slightly cooler music than a concert. (Same amount of nervous parents standing around, though).
Someone is going to get hurt, I thought, clutching my pearls as dozens of kids hurled themselves off the stage into the crowd. Granted, I’m on the wrong side of 30, and also the wrong side of 17 and a half, so it could’ve just been a case of an old man yelling at the kids flying through the clouds. But sure enough, two nights later at the Title Fight show in Philadelphia, a fan knocked himself unconscious and had to be taken out of the show on a stretcher. At that point, the band asked the fans to please stop stage diving, and they did, because that was the reasonable thing to do. Just kidding, they instantly started back up.
The list of stage diving accidents is a lengthy one. Akon was infamously sued after seriously injuring an attendee, as were punk stalwarts Fishbone. Steve Aoki landed himself in the hospital after an errant attempt last year. Everyone has had serous accidents, from Iggy Pop to Mute Math to Anti Flag to Los Campesinos, whose member suffered a concussion, to Yelawolf who ruptured his spleen. There’s also many, many bands whose incidents you’d never heard about, including those who’ve died in the midst of stage diving. A couple years ago, a member of a British band killed himself after fearing he had crippled a fan he landed on. Miguel injured a fan earlier this year at the Billboard Music Awards, as well.
But you know what all of those incidents have in common? The people involved weren’t as bad-ass as you, so pay no attention to any of it. You’re too tough and young to get hurt and other people don’t matter. With that in mind, here are a few rules you’ll want to keep in mind on how to stage dive like a pro.
Degree of difficulty
Merely spilling on stage in a pile of basketball shorts and puberty signifiers then jumping face first back from whence you came is fun the first couple times. But if you want to really hone your skills, you’ll want to start trying increasingly difficult maneuvers. Much like at a pool party, backflips, side-twists, and long-distance leaps are all good ways to impress members of the opposite sex who seek out mates based on their jumping skills and their indifference to smashing innocent music fans in the face with their knees and elbows.
A normal person might consider it exciting to stage dive once or twice per show, feel a little rush, then settle back in to watching the band they came to see perform. But you’re not a normal person. You’re an extreme athlete practicing your downhills. How will you ever perfect your elbow-drop off the top row into some poor girl’s grill if you don’t try it at least 30 times?
You’re the star
People paid money to come see the band perform, sure, but what they really want is to see you gallumph across the stage like a baby fawn standing up for the first time. Don’t just get onstage then jump back off. This is your moment, your time to shine. Mug behind the singer. Make him or her trip over their guitar cable and have to watch you out of the side of his eye to make sure you’re not going to grab him or her from behind. The best performers are scared ones, so your stalker-in-the-spotlights routine is improving the show. Do this every single time you go onstage. Some other cool moves include running all the way across the stage to jump off the other side, that way you can make sure every section of the audience has to wipe your back sweat off their foreheads. After a while, the people in the audience will lose interest in the band and your training montage will become the dominant narrative of the show. We’re all cheering for you now. This is your gig. We’re just spectators.
[Photo credit: Marcelo Sayao/EPA]