Photos from the Middle of the Mosh Pit

VICE photographer Chris Bethell went to Download Festival to capture all the messiest mosh pits.

Just like the urge to kiss, the urge to dance and the urge to scream on a rollercoaster, mosh pits are a strange, yet weirdly natural phenomenon. Something about heavy riffs and pummelling drums makes us want to barrel and smash into other people, like human bumper cars or gas particles. In any other situation – like trying to get on a tube, or being in a supermarket – mosh pits would be hell on earth. But at a metal show, or at Download Festival this weekend specifically, they turn into something else entirely.

Advertisement

For a good two years or so, during the pandemic, mosh pits were illegal. And even when they weren’t illegal, they weren’t exactly happening regularly. Festivals and gigs are only just hitting their stride again this summer, with people finally relaxing enough to be able to thrash their heads about and crowd surf. All of this is important: Moshing makes people feel free and connected. Some have even claimed that mosh pits should be used as a therapeutic activity, thanks to their stress-reducing qualities.

At Download, there was obviously a lot of moshing. Like ancient tribes during an initiation dance, people go to Download specifically to get feelings out of their system via moshing. And so, VICE photographer Chris Bethell went in the middle of mosh pits during sets by Bury Tomorrow, Dying Fetus, Creeper, Funeral For a Friend, Skindred and more to take some pics of the ritual.

The mosh pit at Bury Tomorrow.

Getting lifted up at the Bury Tomorrow mosh pit.

The Bury Tomorrow mosh pit.

The front of the mosh pit at Creeper.

A girl in the mosh pit at Creeper.

Getting lifted at Creeper.

The mosh pit at Dying Fetus.

A mosher with dreads at Dying Fetus.

The mosh pit at Funeral for a Friend

Getting ready to mosh at Funeral for a Friend

Getting lifted up in the mosh pit at Funeral for a Friend

Getting ready at the Higher Power mosh pit.

The mosh pit at Higher Power.

A man in the mosh pit at Higher Power.

In the pit at Higher Power.

A KISS fan in the mosh pit.

The mosh pit at Malevolence.

A person in a gimp mask at Malevolence.

The mosh pit at Malevolence.

The mosh pit at Pengshui.

Inside the mosh pit at Pengshui.

The mosh pit at Skindred.

Getting ready to mosh at Skindred.

Inside the pit at Skindred

A man dressed as Yoshi in the mosh pit at Press Club.

@daisythejones / @christopherbethell

Tagged:

Music, Noisey, Festivals, Metal, rock, Download, UK Festivals, Download Festival, moshpits, Mosh Pits

More
like this
The Best Containers for Sneaking Booze and Pot Into Music Festivals
How Black Swimmers Are Reclaiming the Water This Summer
An Arctic Cruiselish
What It's Actually Like to Have Monkeypox
‘Na Na Naaai’: There’s Only One N-Dubz
The ‘Love Island’ 2022 Power Ranking: Week Four
How to Throw a House Party That Doesn’t Suck
One Man’s Lonely, Lonely Fight to Ban Private Jets