When playing onstage, not everything goes according to plan. There could be equipment malfunctions, prop disasters and in the case of one band, a sprinkler system turning on. The one thing bands should never do in these situations is stop the show. It is important to play through even the most embarrassing moments as it makes bands stronger in the end. In this week’s blog is a list of moments that nearly derailed a show this year, but the band/ artist soldiered on anyway.
Disturbed – Camden, New Jersey 2023
At a recent concert, Disturbed front man David Draimen saw firsthand what the dangers of using too much pyro can be. In a first for the band, Draimen took to X (formerly Twitter) to say that the pyrotechnics the band used activated the venues sprinkler system. You heard that right, the band’s pyrotechnics were so overpowering that the band got doused as a result. However, like true consummate professionals, the show must go on. A few stops later, the same event happened again.
Taylor Swift Swallows A Bug- Chicago, Illinois 2023
Like the great Paul Freeman before her, Taylor Swift vowed to not let anything stop a memorable performance, including insects. Much like the Raiders of The Lost Ark star, who had a scene in the film in which he infamously swallowed a bug and didn’t even react, Taylor shared a similar experience. During her show in Chicago, the bug made its way into Taylors mouth, causing the “1989” singer to joke about the incident onstage.
Chevy Metal’s Jazz Odyssey, Simi Valley, California 2023
Chevy Metal, the 70’s and 80’s cover band formed by the late Taylor Hawkins played a show at a bowling alley to surprise fans. The night, however, was not without its own surprises. During the show bass player and front man Wiley Hodgins (pictured right) had an incident with his drum stand. Due to the surprise nature of the show, roadies were unavailable. Hodgins had no choice but to excuse himself from the action, but the band played on. During this intermission the group played the actual “Jazz Odyssey” as made famous by Spinal Tap. It was perfect for the moment as Hodgins returned, drum standing in hand.
The Boss Gets Demoted, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2023
Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen has been through a lot in 2023. His wife, Patti Sciarffa, had gotten sick with Covid-19 early on tour and he had to postpone a few tour stops, including two in Philadelphia. Despite his status as a rock legend and icon, he is not immune to Spinal Tap like events happening to him. Seems like a disgruntled stage had it out for The Boss. Not one to be stomped on for 3 hours, the stage got its revenge as it tripped Bruce during the opening song “Ghosts”. The Jersey Rocker got up and took it in stride, even jokingly telling the audience “Goodnight” before playing for the whole show. Much to the chagrin of the stage.
ZZ Top Elwood Francis 17 String Bass, Memphis, Tennessee 2023
The new bassist for ZZ Top, Elwood Francis decided to show that he’s just here to have fun. The bassist, filling in for the late Dusty Hill, showcased his massive bass in 2022, but it’s such a Spinal Tap moment, that it’s worth including on this list. In the movie This Is Spinal Tap, the group arrived on stage, each playing a bass for the song “Big Bottom”. One member even rocked a Double Neck bass. Elwood Francis knows he’s not why everyone is here to see ZZ Top; he’s just trying to make the most of a sad situation with Dusty Hills’ passing.
Guns N’ Roses Get Skewered at Glastonbury. Glastonbury, United Kingdom 2023
Guns N’ Roses proved that bad reviews for legacy artists can still be written. It’s all just a matter of how you react to them that shows the audience what they are made of. In what is likely the groups “Sh*t Sandwich” moment, the band was reviewed by The Independent, a British music publication. They were called the “Frontrunner for The Worst Headliner in Festival History”. Axl Rose, whose scattershot vocals left much to be desired, was brutally criticized. With one phrase saying that Rose was “Mumbling vague approximations of English words as if chronically constipated (if you’ve hit the goat curry hard enough, you’ll feel his intestinal pain)”. Yikes! Dear reviewer, please note that in 1991, Guns N’ Roses wrote a song called “Get in The Ring”. A tune that called out their haters, as a heads up they are working on new songs, so watch yourself.
Motley Crue Feud With Mick Mars
On April 6th, longtime guitar player (perhaps the only one in the band playing an instrument) Mick Mars had left Motley Crue. The guitar player had been suffering for a long time with a neurological disease in his spine. This allowed fans to wish the “Kickstart My Heart” guitar hero their well wishes. There was more to come, however. Mars alleged that he was sacked from the band, who coincidentally were under investigation for whether they were playing their instruments live. Mars was replaced by Powerman 5000 guitar player, John 5. Mars was sidelined and the tour with Def Leppard and Motley Crue went underway. The band, however, didn’t relent in their treatment of Mars and continued to gaslight him. They claimed he was turning senile (Mick Mars is 70) and that he wanted to retire. The saga is still ongoing.
Those are the current Spinal Tap moments of the year. Of course, there is plenty of time for more onstage calamity to ensue!