Pit Stories: Glen Benton Cheers on Skin Head Rampage at Harpos
Band Photo: Deicide (?)
Each week Metal Underground.com offers our readers a new Pit Story. Usually, these tales originate from band members. This time, however, I’m going to recount one of the bloodiest, most violent pits in my twenty years of attending metal concerts. Skinheads gathered in hundreds at concerts in Detroit during 1995-1996. When a band finished a song, a sea of arms extended outward forming the Nazi salute, “Sieg Heil.” The huge number of shaved, white skulls marked a stark contrast to the mostly African American environments outside of venues such as Harpos and Saint Andrews Hall.
The racism was not the scariest aspect of these shows for those in attendance. Skinheads flailed knees and elbows in the pit, often leading to fellow moshers leaving the circle with bloody noses or worst—being knocked down and stomped by lead-weighted boots. The violence at those shows has never been duplicated at any venue I have attended across the country. I will never forget the first time I experienced this chaos:
I saw my first concert at Detroit’s infamous rock club, Harpos in the spring of 1995. Deicide headlined a great night of death metal that included Broken Hope (the newly reunited). I was used to helping people up when they fell in the pit. That was not the norm this night. The skinheads greeted fallen members of the circle with das boot—literally crushing the bones of those they stomped (one of my friends confessed to getting his ribs broken). One group of skinheads tattooed the word “Nosferatu” to their stomachs. According to a member of their group, they were vampire skin heads.
One member of the group did not sport the expected shaved head, except for the bottom and sides of his head. He wore his curly, black hair long. Apparently, he was part of the clique and judging by the amount of muscular definition on his shirtless torso, nobody would tell him he needed to shave his head. He didn’t come for fun, he came for blood. One man who didn’t take kindly to his elbows pushed the “skin.” The vampire Nazi responded with a kick to the mid section that his opponent caught. As soon as he felt the kick come in contact with the man’s hands, the Nazi jumped on the man’s throat with clenched hands to execute a suffocating choke. During another fight, the Skinhead punched another fed up pit member. Right in the middle of song, Deicide front man Glen Benton stopped and said, “Yeah, beat his ass.” That he did, at least until the man hit the floor. Then, his fascist cohorts stomped the man until he quit moving.
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