Memories of a Rage-ing mosh pit

Spencer Patterson

Rage Against the Machine’s first performance in more than six years, at April’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, inspired one of the largest-scale mosh scenes in the history of mankind, though—amazingly—no serious injuries were reported. A few, perhaps hyperbolic, firsthand accounts, as posted on the Coachella message board in the days following the mayhem:

• “I was crushed so hard by the pushing crowd that I was pinned against a fence barrier & couldn’t breathe. I had the security folks pull me out. And that was 30 minutes before the show started. I had visions all day long of the poor people in front of me who could not make their way to the fence to escape the madness. I could not take photos because my hands couldn’t move, and water bottles were flying from all directions & hitting people. There was one guy about 3 feet from me who had caught on fire. Several people who had fainted were pulled out. The fellow in front of me was having an asthma attack and was so short he had trouble getting air (even then, the air was almost pure pot smoke).”

• “Started on the right side of the stage near the screen and ended up about 20 feet from front center. I’m 5’11” and weigh 225 and had no choice but to get out, it was out of control. After I got out I went to the first aid tent and rested for a minute or two, I saw at least two people that were being looked at by the EMT’s, one of them appeared to be passed out. I was talking to two other guys that were just pulled out, one of them claims that he passed out for a minute or two while he was in the chaos. It sucks that I wasn’t up front just like my other six times but my health and life comes before RATM.”

• “Incredibly brutal. I was in the middle center like five feet away from the stage. The crowd started getting rowdy during the middle of Crowded House’s set. Everyone literally lost all their energy before Rage came on b/c the crowd was SUPER SUPER SUPER packed and everyone was pushing one another even though you couldn’t move AT ALL. The left-front before the first fence/gate has like the capacity for like (I don’t know) 300 to 400 people, but there was like 1,600 people there. When Rage finally came it was the craziest thing I’ve experienced. EVERYONE went absolutely nutz. After ‘People of the Sun’ I felt like I was literally going to die because it the most brutal in the way front. Someone was choking me and people were literally passing out. I saw at least 12 people that passed out that had to be lifted out of the front over the gate where the security guards were (and that was only for the first three songs) and I saw some big fat guy laying immobilized not being able to move while everyone was stomping all over him. I swear I saw some guy seemingly break his back too. I left after ‘People of the Sun’ b/c I thought I was literally going to die if I stayed for another song. Lets just say it this way, my shirt and undershirt were both torn off and my backpack tore after ‘Bulls on Parade.’ I have had close calls with death, but this was probably the closest I’ve been to it. I would be VERY surprised if no one died. All in all, it was absolutely incredible. I never felt that much energy in my entire life. Rage Against the Machine is the greatest band of the past fifteen years and I can’t f--kin wait to see them at Rock the Bells.”

Rage Against the Machine > Sunday, 9 p.m., Double Down Stage.

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