People in the Mosh pit at Dying Fetus at Download Festival 2022
Photo: Chris Bethell

Photos from the Middle of the Mosh Pit

VICE photographer Chris Bethell went to Download Festival to capture all the messiest mosh pits.
Daisy Jones
London, GB
Chris Bethell
photos by Chris Bethell

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.

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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.

Mosh pit at Bury Tomorrow

The mosh pit at Bury Tomorrow.

Mosh pit at Bury Tomorrow

Getting lifted up at the Bury Tomorrow mosh pit.

Mosh pit at Bury Tomorrow

The Bury Tomorrow mosh pit.

Mosh pit at Creeper

The front of the mosh pit at Creeper.

Mosh pit at Creeper

A girl in the mosh pit at Creeper.

Mosh pit at Creeper

Getting lifted at Creeper.

Mosh pit at Dying Fetus

The mosh pit at Dying Fetus.

Mosh pit at Dying Fetus

A mosher with dreads at Dying Fetus.

Mosh pit at Funeral for a Friend

The mosh pit at Funeral for a Friend

Mosh pit at Funeral for a Friend

Getting ready to mosh at Funeral for a Friend

Mosh pit at Funeral for a Friend

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

Mosh pit at Higher Power

Getting ready at the Higher Power mosh pit.

Mosh pit at Higher Power

The mosh pit at Higher Power.

Mosh pit at Higher Power

A man in the mosh pit at Higher Power.

Mosh pit at Higher Power

In the pit at Higher Power.

Mosh pit at KISS

A KISS fan in the mosh pit.

Mosh pit at Malevolence

The mosh pit at Malevolence.

Mosh pit at Malevolence

A person in a gimp mask at Malevolence.

Mosh pit at Malevolence

The mosh pit at Malevolence.

Mosh pit at Pengshui

The mosh pit at Pengshui.

Mosh pit at Pengshui

Inside the mosh pit at Pengshui.

Mosh pit at Skindred

The mosh pit at Skindred.

Mosh pit at Skindred

Getting ready to mosh at Skindred.

Mosh pit at Skindred

Inside the pit at Skindred

Mosh pit at Press club

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