Caught in a Mosh

System of a Down's Fillmore show was the bee's knees. The proof was in the mosh pit.

For the most part, the band played songs from 1998's System of a Down and 2001's Toxicity, delivering 24 tunes in just under two hours with no encore. The audience knew every single word, even to older songs like "Sugar," the mammoth track with the strange detour into jazz that closed out the set. Two songs earlier, SOAD played its megahit "Toxicity," the first foreboding guitar notes of which had the effect of water sweeping out into the ocean in anticipation of a tsunami. When the distorted wave broke over the Fillmore, the invisible membrane that surrounds a pit became porous, and moshers bled out into the crowd like those ravenous zombies from 28 Days Later, effectively turning everyone they came in contact with into one of them until the entire floor was thundering. Pockets of fury melted into and out of one another like storm clouds -- you could feel the floor shaking from the balcony. I've never seen anything like it.

That is the beautiful, natural thing about a mosh pit: You have dozens and sometimes hundreds of individual rockers, each responding to the music with his own intensity, expressing themselves through bumping into, pushing, and sometimes even hitting one another, though all in the spirit of good fun (my favorite name ever for a hardcore band belonged to one I saw with Andrew in the basement of a library in D.C., Good Clean Fun). When you combine all that energy, it creates an entirely new organism, a creature with a life of its own. That's how I know that System of a Down rocks really damn hard. That night at the Fillmore the band had created a monster.

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