The mosh pit is dying out. I don't really have a ton of documentation for this, after all, where would you find it? But we all know this to be true. Even over the last few years, it has become fairly obvious that traditional metal pits are becoming a thing of the past. It feels like ever week local scene drama flares up over pit beef and at major shows it is increasingly rare to see people actually bothering to mosh it up. I'd like to point out that this is primarily in America, in Europe I have yet to see this issue, though I'm sure people a bit more in tune with the scene over there could give us a more accurate update. The point being – the days of writing songs about moshing and stagediving are done. Nobody does it anymore, at least not in metal.
There's obviously a lot of reasons that mosh pits are dying out, and yes part of it is because the people involved in metal are changing. While you certainly do have a side of metal that still appeals to alcoholics who want to run around and get drunk with their friends, metal is increasingly a place for quiet intellectuals. At a bar like Saint Vitus, which has made its name on attracting some of the strongest and most intellectualized acts in New York City and the world at large you see people trying to start pits and getting frowned down. Take this as you will, but it certainly forces you to re-evaluate the role of moshing in metal. It seems to me that mosh pits in metal are increasingly associated with cro-magnon mainstream bands like Five Finger Death Punch rather than your underground darlings.
That is not to say that underground shows don't periodically feature mosh pits, but it has become a rarity. It seems that we have reached a point in metals history where it is extremely hard to find a space where mosh pits can exist. In the more underground shows in increasingly tiny venues most of the bands are a part of a hyper intellectualized breed of metalhead who are truly just there for the performance aspect, and frequently there isn't really enough room anyway. Meanwhile, in the larger clubs it feels like ever time a good pit gets going someone slips and security ends up getting involved. Some cities have banned moshing. In these cases, it will often feel like the mosh pit is unwanted, and in many cases it is.
It's easy to see why people don't want mosh pits. People get hurt and that just leads to red tape. In my opinion the actual getting hurt isn't what's alienating most folks from the pit but rather people freak out because of the red tape involved. IE: “If I break John's nose, I will be out 3 grand in insurance claims” because insurance companies don't take “That breakdown was so sick bro!” as a reason to cover damages.
Mosh pits also cause drama. I, like many of you have sustained some pretty bad injuries in the pit, do you ever wonder if the people who gave you those injuries were maybe doing it intentionally? I certainly have, and there are cases like that which lead to drama and more violence rise up every week in this country, essentially leaving us condemned to avoid pits.
There is a place for moshing in underground metal though. I think it's one of those things that is so integral to the scene we need to make a sacrifice for it, even if it is unpleasant for us. I don't mosh anymore because I have a pretty badly broken toe that I'm afraid of getting stomped on and thus even more fucked up. That doesn't mean I try to stop a pit when it starts (Unless we are at a concert where that kind of behavior is radically inappropriate) and it also means I don't have to join in. I merely try to separate myself from the fracas. It's not my fault if kids don't practice good pit etiquette, but I also remember how valuable my time in the pit was when I was a high schooler. It's a powerful and empowering thing, you should be willing to help cultivate it.
Heavy metal is in a state of flux right now as we see the genre's essentially intellectual roots rising to greater prominence than ever before. It means the things that made the genre a distinctly proletariat creation are fading into a new world of concept records about Hermetics.
But part of why metal works is the dedication to the eternal fifteen year old within all of us. If we try to cut out one of those things that was noted precisely for speaking so eloquently to this fifteen year old within then we are essentially castrating one of the key things that makes metal metal. So as much as the pits might piss you off you have to remember that this is the very thing that is protecting our shattered sanity and guiding the genre forward with a perpetual wealth of new blood drawn by the thrill of the mosh.