“It was pure balls-to-the-wall metal insanity”: Dave Mustaine reflects on early thrash gigs before concert etiquette was better established

“The shows were out of control because hardly anyone knew what moshing was,” he says.

Dave Mustaine in 1988, he's singing into a mic and playing a Jackson electric guitar

Image: Paul Natkin / Getty Images

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Dave Mustaine has looked back on Megadeth‘s early gigs, noting how completely chaotic they were as “concert etiquette” wasn’t fully established in the thrash scene.

Megadeth have now been together for 40 years, and the band recently released their 16th studio album, The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!.

Concert etiquette is a term that’s cropping up a lot lately as incidents of items being thrown at artists onstage appear to have risen in recent months. In an interview with Metal Hammer, Mustaine reflects on those early gigs upon the band’s anniversary, and how much things have changed when it comes to audience behaviour.

“The shows were out of control because hardly anyone knew what moshing was,” he says. “They weren’t familiar with crowd surfing. Kids would just jump up on the stage and there was no stage diving protocol.

“Some of them would run over to you and grab your mic stand to get some picks off. They’d bang into your guitar or try to scream into the mic. Then someone would shove them off the stage. It was pure balls-to-the-wall metal insanity.”

Mustaine later reflected on the challenges they faced off the stage, too, during those times. “We went through everything, man, from what happened on the road, to homelessness, to starvation. The panhandling, the sleeping on people’s floors. The destitution, the desperation and poverty. We survived it all,” he says.

Also speaking to Metal Hammer, Mustaine recalls how he originally auditioned several singers to fill the position of vocalist for Megadeth. “I was reluctant right up to the last minute,” he remembers. “And then I finally said, ‘OK, fuck it, I can’t be worse than some of these other dudes.’”

Megadeth are set to play six more live shows across September and October this year. View the full list of dates and get tickets via their website.

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