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Surf’s Up… Or Is It?

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Joyce Manor crowdsurfing saga but were too lazy to click all over the internet to find out. 

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Who is Joyce Manor and what is all this exactly?
Well, we’re glad you asked. They’re a punk-tinged rock band from Torrance, California who make catchy tunes, packed with emotions and things which are actually very, very good. They recently dropped their fourth album called Never Hungover Again, which was also very, very good. This all means they’re getting real popular real quick and are now faced with the dilemma of playing shows bigger than they’re comfortable playing and playing to folks they’re probably not that comfortable playing to. Like plenty of bands that probably don’t lean towards earning a more violent display of appreciation from their fans, their association with “the scene” means kids are throwing themselves off stage on the reg at their shows. For examples of other bands that suffer a similar affliction, check out these vids:

Here’s where it all started
They recently played Jacksonville’s 1904 Music Hall and halfway through the first song, a dude launch himself into the young crowd, directly on top of a teenage girl. Frontman Barry Johnson (there really should be an award for Punk Rock Kid With Total Old Guy Plumber’s Name, FYI) stopped the show and politely but firmly told the punter why it wasn’t cool and asked if he could not do it again. Of course it was filmed and you can see the whole thing note for note here:

Media picked up on it and everyone got into the debate, especially young Baz who briskly defended his decision on Twitter, explaining he’d seen just about enough black eyes and concussions for one tour. Folks said they weren’t “punk” no more, others like the aforementioned chaps in Balance and Composure championed the cause.

And then it happened again but wasn’t so great…
Next stop: Houston. Emotions ran high when they landed in Houston and personally requested that the crowd not jump on people’s heads. Naturally, there had to be someone and that someone really pissed off Baz when he leapt off the stage. This time the frontman was far less civil and a long awkward game of I-have-a-microphone-and-you-don’t played out and everyone seemed to be equally embarrassed/embarrassing. The defiant stagediver received a barrage of interesting insults. Highlights included branding him a “piece of shit”,  “spoiled” and “entitled”. You can see the whole thing here in shonky phone-vision:

The apology, well sort of
So, after reviewing the game tape, it’s no surprise that the well-meaning Baz wasn’t too impressed with his performance and subsequently released an apology. This appeared on the band’s Facebook account yesterday: “I wasn’t able to watch people being hurt so I asked people not to act in the way that was hurting people. If that means you don’t support the band, I respect that. If you don’t want to attend the shows, we respect that. If you’ve bought a ticket to the show and want your money back because you want that to be your experience, we will refund you.  I don’t have an issue with anyone’s lifestyle. I apologize to losing my cool in Houston. I saw someone whose full intention was to harm people and was upset. I look forward to playing music in a safe environment for everyone from here on out.”  

The real questions raised
The raging issue across the internets right now seems not to be about whether stage diving is okay but rather if Joyce Manor are a punk/hardcore band. Baz himself constantly refers to his band’s performances as “not a hardcore show” throughout these debates. That taken on board, it would appear that accidentally kicking someone in the face is entirely acceptable if you’re at a hardcore show, just not at an emo-kinda-punk-revival show and it’s more a case of clearly defining the genre of the band you’re going to see before heading for a headwalk. Also, is the general tilt of his argument that his audience should know better? It should be noted that they are, for the most part, kids and everything in the world of metal, punk, hardcore, and emo says “the show” is the place to let loose, vent your frustrations about Dad making you mow the lawn when you wanted to go to your mate’s house and perhaps even shedding a sly tear when you’re having a sing-along.

And that’s us playing devil’s advocate. Let’s jump to the other shoulder for a sec and consider Baz’s predicament. He’s spent plenty of years making his heartfelt music and now he’s looking out at a receptive crowd, except sometimes they’re physically maiming each other. He feels responsible and is probably asking himself, “Does my music really inspire other people to do dumb shit?” That’s gotta be a tough one, right?

Further readin’
One of our writers and a veteran of hundreds of moshpits weighs in from a regular punk punter’s perspective: http://davidjamesyoung.com/2014/09/29/youre-not-punk-and-im-telling-everyone-on-joyce-manor-and-thinking-before-you-jump/

Does this mean I’ve got to hang up my metaphorical crowd-surfboard?
Well, this is a debate that’s just getting started. Crowdsurfing: fun punk rock right of passage or dangerous thing dickheads do to distract me from the band at a show?

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