I am perched on the cupped hands of a man-child; six-foot-five and probably three hundred pounds large. He stoops low and gracefully. His motions are practiced and comfortingly precise. He must be the lifter at all the shows. He is wearing a tan shirt and glasses, making him the most approachable person in the place. He is only too glad to foist my body on the frenzied crowd. I lift off his shoulders as if I were climbing a fence. Gravity takes over and the people below me are working hard to keep from being crushed. I paw and the clamber over denizens of the pit, the sounds of guitars and drums and screaming are now deafening above the absorptive human layer. I knee someone in the head and in response they take a solid hold of my stomach flab and squeeze and shove. I take a breath and steady the lights in my eyes. I grab at the matt black around the middle stage monitor, trying to leave the cable runs steady and to pull myself out of the crowd’s weakening grip.
I am successful, emerge onto stage right, and then am standing stock still in front of guitarist Scott Hull. He doesn’t remember five years ago when an over-zealous power-violence fan at a NYC show pushed me onto the stage. That night the crowd filled in the gap, making escape impossible. He let me sit at his feet, watching his hands chop and peel the night’s riffs. Tonight, I’m going to take a flying leap. You can’t intellectualize a decision like this. You don’t even have the option of making a different decision. You are on stage, Max. Your choice is fish. Hesitation is a reverie, and in grindcore, reverie lasts less than a second.
It’s mostly like diving into a pool. You hit a layer of outstretched hands and breathing becomes impossible. You don’t register the shock until you are sinking, reptilian brain screaming “SWIM! SWIM FUCKER!” This is all wrong. No one wants you to claw at the chop or kick your feet. You roll onto your back, trying to give them an even surface to push against, or maybe just something broad to absorb the shock when they drop you. Because they ARE going to drop you. Coordinated and thoughtfully throngs will help you land on your feet as easily as they scoop the fallen from the bottom of the mosh. The terrified and unprepared drop you on your head. Their bodies buckle or they run, silently squealing to the sides. Six feet from the axis of your right ankle, your head sweeps to the floor like an overripe apple.
I hope I looked like a free and happy madman as my head hit the concrete. Crowd surfing is definitely for the faint of heart.
Pippi Comes Out of Retirement
10 months ago