Punk bands keep fans out of danger zone

Punk rock bands, like Palaye Royale, are perceived as intimidating due to their intensely spirited music and tough appearances, but have historically shown an unusual and admirable concern for the safety of their concert audiences. // Photo by Sloan Salinas Student Publications

It’s Friday night. The Tabernacle in downtown Atlanta pulses with energy as rock band Palaye Royale begins the next song in their set. The crowd sings along as lead vocalist Remington Leith crouches down at the edge of the stage.

As he nears the first chorus, his voice falters when a few audience members try to get his attention, faces worried. Leith stands and calls out to the band’s drummer, quickly moving to halt the song.

He makes his way back to the edge of the stage again, this time looking for venue security. He calls for help for a girl in the audience, directing a few members of security to where she is. The other members of the band cross the stage to where Leith is crouched, looking in the direction he’s pointing as security helps the girl in question.

The singer makes eye contact with her, expression sincere, asking if she’s okay. He waits for a response before nodding, a smile on his face. 

The crowd cheers as Leith takes his place behind the mic stand, the other members readying their instruments. Guitar chords fill the room as the song restarts from the beginning; Leith points a black-gloved hand at the girl in the crowd. Leaning into the microphone he says, “I love you”.

Concerts are known to be environments that, while exciting and fun, can quickly become overwhelming, overstimulating, or even dangerous — as seen at the 2021 Astroworld Festival, a tragedy that left eight people dead and countless more injured. 

Some of the most energetic music experiences can be found specifically at metal and punk rock concerts. Audience members sometimes participate in moshing — a style of dance sometimes referred to as “slamming,” that involves pushing and, as the nickname suggests, slamming into others.

Despite the hazards of these activities, most fans of any bands that fall underneath the “rock” genre will vehemently defend concert environments as extremely safe. Mosh pits are completely optional and easy to avoid if one doesn’t want to participate and fans are quick to work together to get the band or security’s attention if someone gets hurt or needs help. 

In a video of a 2001 Linkin Park concert that went viral after the Astroworld tragedy, rapper Mike Shinoda and the late lead singer Chester Bennington stopped their show to ensure the safety of someone who had fallen. 

After this, Bennington prompted a call and response with the crowd, shouting, “When someone falls, what do you do?” to which the crowd answered, “Pick them up!” This type of behavior from rock artists is far from out of the ordinary and comes from deep care and concern for the safety of their fans.

Another potential danger at concerts, especially long music festivals like the Warped Tours of the 2000s, is dehydration. Many fans wait for hours to see their favorite bands, not wanting to lose their spot to go wait in an equally long line to buy water. 

This can lead to fans getting sick or even passing out due to thirst. Not only do the artists seem to notice fairly quickly when this happens, but other fans are also always on alert, shouting towards the front for assistance or clearing a path for distressed or sick concert-goers to move to the front to get water from security without hassle. 

At a concert in January, English alternative artist Yungblud stopped his set several times to tell venue security to fill solo cups with water and pass them out to the crowd. Those at the very front passed cups to those further back before taking water for themselves.

The fans themselves are another element that adds to the safety of metal, punk, and rock concerts. Everyone looks out for everyone else, be it by surrounding a girl whose shirt gets ripped, picking somebody off the ground of a mosh pit mere seconds after they fall or even just general check-ins with those around them to make sure no one is getting crushed or feeling uncomfortable at any point during the show. 

These types of interactions create a juxtaposition between the intimidating appearance of punk rock fans and the caring, friendly demeanor they actually tend to have. And it’s not just the fans; the energetic, spunky nature of the bands that make up this wide genre of music doesn’t stop them from taking the time to look out for the health and safety of everyone in the audience. 

This is just one of the standout things that define the rock scene; whether literally being held aloft while crowd-surfing at a show or just standing and singing along to the music, this community always has each other’s backs.