House of Blues cited as city cracks down on dance-floor mayhem
Cops slam mosh pits
By Dave Wedge
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - Updated 4 hours ago
Boston cops are cracking down on slam-dancing concertgoers, blindsiding a top Hub venue for a rowdy mosh pit at a recent gig and pledging to halt all “dangerous behavior” on the floor — prompting outrage from bands who say the aggressive dance style is an integral part of the show.
“The city of Boston needs to stay out of it,” said Guy Kozowyk, vocalist for Hub metal band The Red Chord. “I understand cracking down on fighting, but (moshing) is a form of expression. It’s ridiculous they’re cracking down on this now. There are plenty of other problems.”
Boston cops cited the House of Blues for a license violation because of a mosh pit that broke out during a Feb. 21 show by Los Angeles band Flogging Molly. According to police, 60 concertgoers engaged in an “aggressive mosh pit dance,” during which people were running and “colliding into each other,” including some who were “knocked to the ground.” No injuries were reported.
A Boston Police Department inspector said the communal dance violated safety rules and the club was cited because security did not intervene, records show.
A statement from the House of Blues said “the safety of our patrons is the top priority” and that the venue is working closely with the city “to address concerns about moshing and other forms of expressive dance.” A Flogging Molly publicist declined to comment.
City officials said they could not recall another instance when a Hub rock club was cited for a mosh pit, but cops vowed that dance- floor mayhem will not be tolerated.
“Dancing is a First Amendment right, but the behavior itself is a violation, especially when it becomes dangerous and a public safety hazard,” Boston police spokeswoman Officer Nicole Grant said.
The city’s licensing board took the matter under advisement after a City Hall hearing yesterday, while the club was ordered to put up illuminated signs saying moshing is not allowed.
The dustup comes as the Lansdowne Street club plans for three sold-out St. Patrick’s Day shows by the Dropkick Murphys this week. But Dropkick singer Ken Casey said the club and city have nothing to worry about.
“I don’t see it as a concern for us. Maybe in 1998 it would have been,” Casey said.
But other bands say the crackdown sets a bad precedent and will force heavier bands — including several top-selling Massachusetts metal acts — back to Worcester and the suburbs, where venues have permitted mosh pits for years.
“This new anti-moshing policy proves once again that the city of Boston hates heavy music,” said Trevor Phipps, vocalist for Boston’s Unearth. “It’s disheartening and maddening to know your hometown doesn’t support or understand your music scene.”
Brian Fair, vocalist for Grammy-nominated Bay State metal band Shadows Fall, called the clampdown “ridiculous” and said: “I can understand trying to cut down on injuries or fights, but you see more fights outside a dance night on Lansdowne Street than you see inside a hardcore show.”