Moshpits are a strange and ancient-seeming phenomenon. As a non-verbal expression, they’re the most obvious indicator of a vital and healthy rock show – and over the last decade, Cornell researchers have discovered similarities between moshers and molecules in a gas, with each moving and bumping into each other at high speed.
So on an elemental level, it makes sense why people like moshing so much. On a physical level, pits provide the sort of visceral communication you wouldn’t usually get away with (I’m pissed! I’m mad! I’m sad!). Being part of one allows you to turn your mind off and give yourself over to nature.
Or maybe that’s overthinking it. Opening up a space in a crowd with equal parts sheer force of will and collective psychic effort is also just cool. Thrashing against other people like you’re human bumper cars is stupidly fun.
For a whole year-and-a-bit, moshing has been a no-go, because shows without social distancing during the pandemic were obviously dangerous. That changed this weekend, with Download Festival opening its doors to 10,000 punters as part of a pilot to test whether festivals can safely operate in the era of COVID-19. In a few days we’ll see how many people caught the virus as a result of attending this weekend – but a minor threat to health has always been an integral element of the moshpit.
Here are some photos of the joy, rain, sweat and tears from the first day’s worth of Download moshpits: