Anyone who has been to a punk rock show can probably separate themselves into one of two groups:
1) Those who stage dive.
2) Those who don’t stage dive, and usually have to deal with catching/cushioning those who do stage dive.
Obviously, some bands and fans have a problem with this strange practice. Until recently, it was just a widely accepted fact that people will stage dive at shows, and there’s not much you can do about it.
However, Joyce Manor, a punk band from Torrance, Calif., is making waves in the punk community for speaking out against stage diving. Two videos surfaced online of Barry Johnson, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, pulling stage diving fans back on stage and telling them to stop. Please be aware that the videos below contain foul language.
In the first video, Johnson is polite. He tells the fan to stop and then continues the set. But in the second video, which was posted a few days later, Johnson’s temper is apparent and he fights with the fan for a few minutes on stage.
Why was Johnson so angry? In the videos, he explained that he doesn’t like seeing smaller people, especially young women, being crushed by stage divers (who are mostly tall/large and male) and that he just wanted to look out for their safety. He even went so far as to “ban” stage diving at all of their shows after the first incident.
This series of events quickly exploded into a heated debate online. Both fans and members of famous bands offered their two cents on the issue.
Some supported Joyce Manor and their concern for the safety of their crowd. Others argued that they had the right to do whatever they wanted and stage diving is an inherent part of punk shows.
Many criticized the fact that members of Joyce Manor used to stage dive with instruments in hand at earlier shows. It’s important to note, however, that the band never said they were against stage diving. They simply do not want to see so people get hurt instead of having a good time.
Johnson later commented via the band’s Facebook,
The debate struggled to find an answer to two questions: Are punk shows more about “a safe space with communal respect?” Or are they meant to be chaotic, where the fans look after themselves accordingly?
Some even questioned why everyone was arguing over jumping off a stage in the first place.
What’s your opinion on this issue? Feel free to leave a comment below.