Share your surreal concert experiences

Inspired by this thread.

I saw the J Geils Band at Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois some time in the mid '70’s. It was the loudest and smokiest concert I ever attended. Yes, **that **kind of smoke.

Most of the attendees were high school age. :eek:
Second place goes to a Marshall Tucker Band/Jethro Tull show (same time period, same location). At a quiet spot in the Tull set, some guy yells out “Boogie!”. Ian responded “Boogie is an antelope dropping.” Ummm, what were they thinking there?

I saw The Who at the Chicago Amphitheatre in 1979. This was the show immediately following the trampling incident that killed 11 people in Cincinnati. I was amazed at how restrained the crowd was, where normally there’s quite a bit of rowdiness. We all waited our turn soberly when the doors opened. The Who put on a really great show, somehow defeating the parking-garage acoustics of the Amphitheatre. Sometime near the end, when the lights came up, some guy in the row behind me tapped my shoulder. I turned around to see a huge biker-esque dude, tatoos and leather, very intimidating (hell, I was 17, of course he was intimidating). He said, “hey, dude, you dropped your coat,” and handed me my windbreaker. I meekly thanked him.

ETA: hmm, the record shows that Buffalo was the next stop for The Who on that tour, which contradicts my memory. Perhaps Chicago was the one just after? In any case, the timing was very close, within a week, of when the Cincinnati incident happened.

Dead Can Dance at The Vic theater in Chicago. After the first song, the audience was apparently so stunned that nobody clapped. Literally, not one single person made a noise. The members of the band looked at each other, puzzled, then started the next song. After that song, there was a huge round of applause. I’ve never seen that happen before or since.

Couple of things that come to mind. The first time I saw The Mountain Goats I knew nothing about them and went with a friend and his son because I figured that if they liked them I would. On one song (maybe Woke Up New) they played a lengthy outro of the riff and the audience spontaneously began finger snapping in time. I had never heard it done before and, despite seeing them twice since, have never heard it again.

Last month I saw The Decemberists and during one song the band began to slowly squat down until they ended up playing, laying on the stage. Colin Meloy then signaled the audience to crouch down and kept signaling…lower, lower… And to my amazement the whole audience, thousands of us, in a venue with no seating, ended up down on the floor. Meloy held his finger to his lips and said, “Shhh. They are all sleeping.” And the song ended and everyone leaped up to applaud. He also conducted a complicated singalong where each side of the audience, singing different things, had to change volume according to his arm waving. Quite the showman, he had us in the palm of his hand.

Thelonious Monster at Pink Pop (Netherlands) in '93. Bob Forrest, the singer, behaved like a lunatic on stage, culminating in climbing a very high speaker tower. Since he was obviously intoxicated out of his mind, I was very glad when he made it back to the stage without falling down. Years later I read an essay about the band by the Dutch author Roel Bentz van den Berg called “Body And Soul” in which he refers to this performance.

Another, more funny incident was at a local festival sometimes in the nineties. There was a hair metal band I don’t remember the name of which played a song called “Fire”. When singing the chorus, they had a basic pyrotechnical effect, consisting of spitting some inflammable liquid into torches in front of them to produce a mighty flame. And yes, you guessed it, one of of the guy’s hair caught fire (he wasn’t harmed). It really was a Spinal Tap moment.

-My first and only psychotropic experience was also my first and only Grateful Dead experience. :stuck_out_tongue:
Half a hit of acid, and I was walking down the bleacher seats, feeling like I was floating, and thinking, in a quite detached manner, ‘Yep, I can see why people think they can fly on this stuff’.

-A small, sorta-local band played at a bar; my friends and I attended, and were the ONLY people to show up.
That band played the HELL out of the place for us, and that was great!

-Went to a Pete Yorn show a couple of years ago in Norfolk, VA; there were at least 500 people in the place, most standing…and not a single one moving.
It was like Concert of the Zombies. I sure do miss when people actually ENJOYED the music they went to see. :dubious:

Something like that happened when I saw King Crimson in 1974. They played one song (I remember it as “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part 2” but I’m not sure), which ends in a huge chord that fades out into silence. The audience sat there without making a sound for like 30 seconds, allowing the reverberations to fade away, before starting to applaud.

Another nice experience occurred when I went to a Dillards concert – late 80’s, maybe. They were doing “Somebody Touched Me”, and during the sing-along part, I, as is my wont, was belting out the high harmony at the top of my voice. One of the band pointed in my direction and said, “Somebody’s doing harmony!” They then spent the next few minutes getting the entire audience to sing in three-part harmony, which sounded really, really good.

The worst surreal experience I had was at a John Mellencamp concert, back when he was John Cougar. During one song he got clocked by the bass… the bass player swung around and caught him right in the head with the headstock. He went down on the stage, writhing. At first we thought it was part of the act, but then he didn’t stop, and the band stopped playing… finally they got him off the stage. End of show. :eek:

Meloy has a knack for audience participation… it’s one of the reasons why I love seeing The Decemberists play.

I think my favourite trick of theirs involved a singalong to The Mariner’s Revenge Song where they divided up the audience into Moaners, Wailers and… something else that I can’t remember, while the band acted out the song onstage complete with puppets and props (including a giant fake whale).

It was great to see everyone dancing and singing and clapping along, especially since Toronto audiences are notoriously standoffish.

I saw …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and the bassist was loaded (hah!) Not only do their songs not seem like the type of music they’d play drunk to, the guy didn’t seem to be that sort of type either, but he was stumbling around on stage and at one point he knocked over a speaker and almost fell off stage into the crowd. Of the bands that I really like they’d be in the bottom 5th percentile of bands I’d expect that from.

Another concert I was at – a different band, I forget who, but it was at House of Blues (an opening band at a medium-sized venue.) One of their guitars up and quits on them during the middle of a song: after the song they can’t get another one ready quickly so they ask the crowd if anyone there has a guitar. A girl in the front row says yes and one of the band members hands her his pass and she leaves, ostensibly to go and get a guitar. She never returns (and I forget if they finished the set with another guitar or just went without one of them.)

What nailed it in the surrealness category is that after the set, the security guards were working the crowd to try to find the girl, so it obviously wasn’t just an act. (She probably pretended to have a guitar to get a backstage pass either to use it or as a souvenir.)

I saw this done deliberately at an Alice Cooper show in the 80s. It was a rowdy crowd with understaffed stage bouncers, and fans were constantly running onstage and diving off. A fan ran on stage and did the whole “woo, look at me” jumping around thing but wouldn’t dive off. The bass player brained the guy from behind with his bass, knocking the guy out, and rolled him off the stage with his foot.

I saw Radiohead last year or two years ago, whenever they were touring for In Rainbows, and it was raining all day. Right before they came on, the rain stopped, and a huge rainbow came over the whole sky. This was in Houston, at Cynthia Woods.

I won’t even bother talking about Phish shows on mushrooms, that’s a given.

I’ll go with the Pink Floyd in Boston in November of 1971. Meddle has just come out and I told my friend that they probably wouldn’t play “One of These Days”; he said that they probably wouldn’t play “Atom Heart Mother.” They played both. The group played for over two hours and only covered eight songs. For their encore, they did a dynamite blues jam that would have brought on a second encore from any other band but that was so unlike their music that it ended things as soon as they finished.

But the really surreal part was when, in the middle of a number, they left the stage for about ten minutes, leaving a tape on that included the sound of footsteps that seemed to walk around the auditorium, stopping to do things, then moving back toward the front.

And topping that was the cop while we were waiting on line. Someone had a bottle. The cop saw him and said, “You can’t bring that in. Hide it under your coat.”

Boogie = shit was a running Jethro Tull joke in the '70s. On the Warchild tour they had a routine where a pantomime zebra came out on the stage and emitted zebra-striped tennis balls from its rear end, which Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (who wore a zebra-striped suit and played a zebra-striped bass) proceeded to juggle. Ian Anderson then observed, “I’ll bet that’s the first time you’ve ever seen anyone juggle zebra boogies.”

About 10-12 years ago, I saw Bob Weir (of the Grateful Dead) play a solo show at NYC’s late, lamented “Wetlands” club. Midway through the show he announces that he has some special guests he’d like to welcome to the stage. Out comes Hansen. Yes - Hansen. The three teenybopper brothers who were one-hit wonders with the bubblegummy song “Mmm-bop.”

The weirdest thing about it was that those kids were pretty good live!
Similarly, although I didn’t attend this concert myself, I know a couple who saw Sting at the Beacon Theater (also in NYC) and were pissed when his “special guest performers” came out - Brad Pitt & Jennifer Aniston (who were still a couple at the time.) My friends were really annoyed at having to pay so much for tickets (like $150.00 apiece!) and then having to sit through a concert with two untalented backup singers ruining every song in the entire show. To this day, they both bristle when that story comes up.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Pittsburgh Syria Mosque theater, 1987-ish. Crosby was in the depths of his addiction and wandered off stage for about half-an-hour or so. Stills and Nash took turns performing solo tunes while the other helped the crew get Crosby back on stage. IIRC, Nash played “Our House” and Stills played “4 + 20” and it was wonderful. Reading Crosby’s autobiography “Long Time Gone” some years later I learned that he was under the stage free-basing. I had to laugh because he wrote that the show was in Philly. This is your brain on drugs…

I went to Metallica (The Black Album) when I was about 16. I had already met the band, courtesy of some (older)friends that had fooled around with some crew members and a few that were dancers.

Prior to the concert, instead of an opening act, the band showed a video of scenes shot around the arena. I full expected my friends to be featured on the video.

I did not expect to have a good five - seven seconds dedicated on screen time myself, just standing and smiling.

I got so many friends calling me after that concert!

Another one earlier that year, I saw Alice in Chains perform as the opening act for Queenscryche. At the time, their bass player was the very cute (at the time) Mike Starr. We were front row, on the side. I was shocked when he personally knelt down to invite me backstage.

Although I went to meet him and sat in the band’s dressing rooms with my friends, I wasn’t willing to “take a walk” with him…I was only 15 and not quite ready for that particular concert experience. But it was a strange moment.

In 1984, I saw Krokus, supported by Accept and Rough Cutt. During Rough Cutt’s set a girl somehow got onstage and handcuffed herself to the lead singer. It was the highlight of their show.

Wasn’t he opening for the Who when that happened? IIRC, he came back and sang “Hurts So Good”.

This may have been another show, but it did happen.

Don’t know if this counts as a “concert,” but this rockabilly band I used to see play in a bar would do wild tricks. The lead singer would get up on the bar and play his guitar with a bottle of Jack. Then the bassist, who looked 80 pounds soaking wet, would get up on the bar and lift his huge, heavy bass above his head and play, without missing a beat. It was really fun to watch.

Another one I just thought of - seeing Yes. For one tour, in lieu of an opening act, they showed several old B&W “Popeye” cartoons. The audience got into it too - people cheered when Olive Oyl came onscreen, hissed at Bluto, and went nuts when Popeye ate spinach.

In fact, I remember watching the cartoons a lot better than I remember the show itself.