Opinion: Hey Corey Taylor, call people out – but don't kick them out

So Corey Taylor has had another fan kicked out of a Slipknot show, huh? Good for him! If nine masked mentalists on a stage full of fire isn’t enough to hold your attention, then there’s probably something wrong with you! Actually, I’m kidding; while it was pretty funny watching him slap a cell phone out of someone’s hands at a recent show, it’s not clear from the video what this latest incident was about, just that someone pissed him off and was ejected from the show. Which, as much as I love Slipknot, seems a little harsh, especially when tickets are so expensive.

It does, however, open up the whole debate about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour, these days, from both fans and bands alike. After all, Taylor isn’t the first to have someone kicked out (remember that Axl Rose bloke, back in the day?) and a recent post suggests that only a few days ago Mastodon’s Brent Hinds punched someone in the face, in Dublin, for giving him “bad vibes”, before having him thrown out of the show. Meanwhile, in Chile, Johnny Rotten played on after being hit in the face with a bottle.

We can probably all agree that – even given rock music’s often violent nature – violence is unacceptable, while someone spending the whole night texting is just bloody annoying. There isn’t one single band who hasn’t played to an inattentive audience at some point, and some places are known for it (we’re looking at you LA!), but having someone chucked out for such things seems a bit harsh. Surely if you’ve paid to get in then, within reason, you can do whatever the hell you want? Well, yes and no.

To put things into perspective, I grew up in an era when gobbing at bands was seen as a sign of appreciation, and where horrific violence at shows was commonplace, but it’s hard to recall a band who ever had someone kicked out of a show. Not that people never got thrown out, often with a complimentary beating from the bouncers, just not at the band’s behest. At an Exploited show in the early ‘80s, opening band Broken Bones were attacked on stage by skinheads, and the gig was shut down before the Exploited could even play, after a girl had her throat cut. Bands would frequently fight audience members, and often there was no security at all. Thankfully times have changed. Some people need to be shown the fucking door.

But where do we draw the line? After all, mosh pits can be pretty violent, a healthy release of aggression, and the crazy shows, where it all kicks off like a scene from Braveheart, are always the best! Is it okay for people to kick the crap out each other? Likewise, what if you just want to watch a band, and perhaps nod your head appreciatively? Who’s to say that one is any less valid than the other?

I’m kind of an old bugger now, and don’t go down the front as much as I used to, often choosing to watch a band from the back. Sometimes I’ll order a drink if they’re playing a song I don’t like. Certainly my stage-diving days are over. But that doesn’t mean I appreciate the shows any less, just that the bar will be packed between bands, and I don’t really want an elbow in my face while I’m watching them. Should I get kicked out for that? No, fuck you! And neither, unfortunately, should the person who spends all night texting; not unless he or she throws their phone at the band!

For the purposes of this article, I was supposed to take a definitive stance: hell yes, anything goes, let’s all fuck and fight on the dance-floor, or hell no, let’s all stand there offering polite applause and apologising for breathing too loud. Personally, I lean towards the former, but that’s not the issue. The issue is, should band members be allowed to have audience members kicked out of shows for harshing their buzz or looking at them funny? And the answer to that is a definitive no! Call them out, sure, but don’t kick them out.

Like I said, I love Slipknot, and count them among my favourite bands; I’m going to see them this weekend, in fact. That said, I’ll be disappointed if Corey has someone else kicked out for no good reason. Far better to have Clown piss on them and let them leave of their own accord! That’ll teach them to pay attention!

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A veteran of rock, punk and metal journalism for almost three decades, across his career Mörat has interviewed countless music legends for the likes of Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Kerrang! and more. He's also an accomplished photographer and author whose first novel, The Road To Ferocity, was published in 2014. Famously, it was none other than Motörhead icon and dear friend Lemmy who christened Mörat with his moniker.