In 1987, Billy Joel travelled to the USSR to perform some of the first major American rock shows in soviet Russia, with a documentary crew in tow. Apparently the crew was shining lights on the audience, which would freak them out. Joel explains:“whenever they turned the lights on, anyone who was overreacting was being pulled out of the audience by a security guard.” The only sensible solution was to flip over the piano and smash some microphone stands. But more impressive is Joel’s keytar player. Somebody find that guy and give him a record deal.
Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre)
Compared to a lot of the other manipulative, childish bullshit portrayed by some of the stars in premier rockumentary Dig!, Anton Newcombe’s climactic onstage tussle with his band is actually pretty tame. But by itself, it’s a jaw-dropping display of arrogance and carnage, basically the opposite of what you hear on a Brian Jonestown Massacre album. It makes me want to get in a fight just so I can scream “STAND THE FUCK BACK MOTHERFUCKER” at someone.
Though cutting a set short because you’re getting pelted by rocks isn’t really a freakout, it’s Nickelback, so they will always look like assholes no matter what. Combine an inexplicable booking at a Portuguese music festival with a close proximity to a rock quarry, and you’ve got one of the more satisfying clips in this list.
Ariel Pink’s on stage meltdown at Coachella didn’t involve any harsh words – rather, the lack of them. Mr. Pink (always wanted to write that) chose to stop singing his songs, and instead stand around like he’s three sleepless days into an MDMA binge. In fact, other footage of him slithering and crouching during the same set might just confirm that speculation.
In late 2011, Courtney Love stopped mid-performance to berate and threaten a fan who was holding up a picture of her late husband, Kurt Cobain (here’s her justification). She leaves, and her shirtless bandmate bro swaggers up to the mic like he’s about to have sex with it, but instead forces the audience to chant “Foo Fighters are Gay” because he’s apparently fifteen years old. Just a heads up: The Foos aren’t particularly worried about coming off gay.
Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age)
Fevers can transform us into impatient, selfish high-school caliber jerks, which is just what happened to the hazy-eyed and teetering frontman of Queens of the Stone Age, Josh Homme. Unimpressed that someone would DARE throw something at him during a FESTIVAL, he calls a young kid a “dickless turd” and a “faggot,” before bringing him to stage only to throw something at his face. It’s never cool to use that slur, but screaming “I’ll still buttfuck you in front of all your friends” at someone is really damn funny.
Anyone who’s watched VH1 for more than a couple hours has probably seen this one: hard rock’s self-made whipping boy Axl Rose shuffling and grooving at a concert in St. Louis, then with a yell of “ShanananananananaNOPICTURES,” dives into the crowd to take a fan’s camera. The show was abruptly cancelled, which lead to a riot, because back then seeing Slash play guitar was still a novelty.