10 crowd gimmicks bands should implement

Heavy metal crowd
(Image: © Christie Goodwin \/ Getty)

When Slipknot play Spit It Out live, they get the whole crowd to sit down on the floor and then spring up at the same time. It’s completely awesome. Similarly, Skindred have the famous Newport Helicopter, where shirts are removed and spun around like rotor blades. More and more bands are adopting signature crowd gimmicks, but a lot of them feel a bit like they’re ripping other bands off. Here, then, are a few suggestions for better ones they can adopt…

Thumbs Up

During their heyday, The Darkness tried to get people to opt for a thumbs-up in lieu of applause, the logic being it left one hand free for a beer. It never caught on – applause is a difficult habit to break, hard-wired as it is into whatever part of the brain it is that digs stuff – but there’s definitely something in it, responding to a band’s set with a goofy silent ear-to-ear grin and gleefully raised thumb.

Stick Your Foot In Your Mouth

Look, sometimes you want to separate the casual Johnny-rock-latelys from the hardcore fanatics. You want to reward the truly loyal, but the truly loyal will also work for that reward. Why not get the crowd to stick their foot in their gob at a key moment? Anyone who doesn’t properly go for it and wedge the whole thing in there is a fakey fakey poseur who’s only at the gig for the Instagram kudos.

The Batusi

Batman is eternally badass, and metal as fuck – he exclusively wears black, only operates at night, wears spikes when he doesn’t need to and has mad parental issues. He’s not extraordinarily musical though, with one exception. Making its first appearance in Hi Diddle Riddle, a 1966 episode of the Adam West Batman series, the Batusi is the greatest dance in the world, a hula-esque variation on the twist, and if anything, is danced better drunk. Sure, Behemoth are unlikely to get their crowds to adopt it, but Black Veil Brides fans going for it isn’t out of the question.

The Elephant

Ah yes, the age-old “elephant” impression. To execute said impression, men should pull their trouser pockets inside out to represent the pachyderm’s ears, and produce a trunk from behind their flies. Doing that to someone unsuspecting is horrible (and, you know, a sex crime), but imagine all the penis-owners of a festival being choreographed into windmilling their dicks at once during Mastodon. It’d be quite something.

The James Brown

The thing with gigs is, you’re always getting too hot and getting too cold – it’s really hot in the pit, then afterwards when you’re all soaked in sweat and cider and someone’s piss you get all chilly. Both overheating and hypothermia are possible, it’s a real tightrope. In these enlightened modern times, bands are taking more of an interest in the welfare of their fans, so doing a homage to James Brown’s famous being-helped-off-under-a-coat-then-throwing-it-off moment is a fine way of organising a crowdwide putting-a-cardy-on and taking-a-cardy-off. Lovely.

Stay At Home

There are bands who don’t need to be named who couldn’t give less of a shit about their fans, and do nothing to disguise the contempt they have for the people that bought them their mansions. If you’re a band that’s used to phoning performances in, why not go the whole hog and do the Stay At Home Tour, where fans can buy tickets to a gig and do your new signature move by staying at home? That way everyone’s happy – the fans feel like they’re getting involved and the band don’t actually have to do anything or talk to one another.

Air Raid

You know that bit in the film Dazed And Confused where they shout “Air Raid!” and everyone has to jump on the ground and wriggle like a salmon? A big enough band doing that at a muddy enough festival and you’d basically have recreated the Somme.

Wall Of Ballet

Everyone loves a good Wall Of Death, but it could definitely be made more beautiful. How about bringing in influences from other, more highbrow art forms? Instead of running at each other hell for leather and colliding into an instant moshpit/party, how about locking eyes with someone on the other side, leaping elegantly into the air towards them and performing a flawless pas de deux with them in mid-air, before landing and getting on with the beating-the-shit-out-of-each-other part? If the right kind of symphonic metal band got behind this, it could be nothing short of exquisite.

Vote

Politics and music go hand in hand, and in uncertain times like these, anyone with any kind of platform is tempted to use it as a soapbox to share their views and hopefully use their influence. The natural conclusion this could reach is bringing out a single where, somehow, due to some extremely clever and intricate paperwork, singing along with the chorus legally constitutes a vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

Turn Up On A Horse

Yeah, not sure how this would work, but it’d be fucking cool.

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