Editor’s Note: This article contains graphic information and NSFW imagery. Read at your own discretion.
Live music has a nearly unmatched capacity for surprise, though most audiences hope to encounter surprises that are emotional, instead of, say, liquid. But no matter the consistency, these moments of shock are one of the reasons we leave the house — why we undergo the hassle of public transit or parking, cram into small spaces surrounded by strangers, and try to ignore the smells. Even the tamest of concerts has an element of danger, a chance that something could go wrong. And when it does? For better and worse, that is the stuff of legends.
In the spirit of celebrating the highest and lowest that live music has to offer, we’ve assembled a list of of the most shockingly gross concert moments (in no particular order). Needless to say, this is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, and reader discretion is very much advised.
So put the food away, send the children to another room, and read on, if you dare.
— Wren Graves
Brass Against Singer Shares Her Number One Problem
On November 11th, 2021, Brass Against vocalist Sophia Urista really had to pee, and one male audience member offered to serve as a toilet. Nobody would complain about what two consenting adults do behind closed doors, but this was during a performance at the Welcome to Rockville festival at Daytona International Speedway, and the rest of the audience didn’t get a chance to opt out. Urista is currently facing legal repercussions, and the group has been permanently banned from NASCAR venues. — W.G.
Ozzy Osbourne Tries a New Type of Meat
A story that’s almost too wild to believe, but is in fact true, is the unforgettable tale in which Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off of a bat onstage. During his 1981 “Night of the Living Dead” tour, the Black Sabbath vocalist would pelt the front rows of his audience with pig intestines and calves’ livers, inspiring attendees to begin sneaking in various other innards to pelt back at him. At the tour’s stop in Des Moines, a fan with a particularly good arm threw a bat at Osbourne. Thinking it was rubber, Osbourne did what any good metal singer would do: make a spectacle and bite into it. The story goes that he was rushed to the hospital and treated for rabies. — Abby Jones
G.G. Allin Spreads His Cheeks and Art
In Peoria, IL, in 1985, G.G. Allin took the first of many shits onstage. The inciting incident was planned out ahead of time, as fellow performer Bloody Mess recalled. “I was with him when he bought the Ex-Lax. Unfortunately, he ate it hours before the show, so he constantly had to hold it in or he would’ve shit before he got onstage.” Luckily (?) he managed to wait until the moment was right.
The resulting pandemonium was much to Allin’s liking, and at later performances he would fling his feces into the crowd or shove it into his mouth. It became as much of a recurring bit as the troubled punk’s promises to commit suicide mid-concert, though his tragic heroin overdose in 1993 put an end to all such antics. — W.G.
L7’s Bloody Good Reading Festival
It’s no secret that most bands affiliated with the riot grrrl and grunge movements of the ‘90s weren’t exactly concerned with keeping things subdued. For example, take L7’s set at Reading Festival in 1992, during which singer/guitarist Donita Sparks and her bandmates took the stage with red warpaint and some frustrating sound issues.
Determined to make their time at the festival memorable, Sparks clumsily reached into her pants, yanked out her tampon, and threw it into the audience. “Eat my tampon, fuckers,” she yelled, according to one witness. “Watch out for tuberculosis!” Apparently, someone in the crowd threw the tampon back, where it landed on the monitor ledge and remained during Nick Cave’s following set. — A.J.
Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon Showers the Audience (Not with Compliments)
So much for “No Rain.” Two years before he died of a cocaine overdose, Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon was performing nude during a Halloween show in Vancouver. Even though he was the only naked person, he decided the front row needed a shower. As journalist Steve Newton recalled, Hoon “started peeing all over the stage and then aimed his weenie at the poor folks in the front row. Considering the duration of Hoon’s urination, it looked like a good pee, but a chorus of boos went up anyway.” Hoon was arrested afterwards for indecency. — W.G.
A Cameo From Iggy Pop’s Lunch
You could write a whole book about all the bizarre stunts Iggy Pop pulled on stage — in fact, some people have — but out of all his grotesque and absurd debauchery, nothing stands out quite as much as his habit of vomiting mid-performance, sometimes directly on audience members. “The first time I ever did it, it was out of frustration,” the Stooges frontman once told Tom Snyder. “I just felt very bad at the time, and music is an expressive medium that sometimes — sometimes — can get out of hand.”
But of course, being one of the most famous faces in rock history means even your upchucked lunch might be a welcome sight to some freaky fans: “Let’s see you puke!” one Geri Miller yelled during a show. Iggy moseyed over to the famed go-go dancer and obliged, right all over her. — A.J.
Fuck for Forest Celebrates Wood
In 2004, during a performance by The Cumshots at the Quart Festival in Norway, Fuck for Forest co-founders Leona Johansson and Tommy Hol Ellingsen made a nontraditional appeal for the environment. “How far are you willing to go to save the world?” Ellingsen asked. The pair proceeded to strip naked and make good on their organization’s name. The public coitus raised nearly $15,000, but the couple were arrested, and reportedly no environmental group was willing to take the money. — W.G.
Fans Hit the Shit at Woodstock 99
HBO didn’t need to put out a documentary to remind you that Woodstock 99 was an absolute, catastrophic disaster. In addition to three deaths, 44 arrests, 1,200 admissions to onsite medical facilities, and countless allegations of sexual assault, the tradition of Woodstock-goers bathing in mud became horrific. As HBO’s Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage details, that “mud” in question was a result of a backed-up sewage, meaning much of it was human feces.
“Mud has curiously always played an important role in the mythology of Woodstocks,” director Garret Price told Rolling Stone. “There’s legendary images of the muddy fields in Bethel during the original festival or the career-defining performances of Nine Inch Nails and Green Day covered in mud in the ’94 edition. So not surprisingly, the kids at Woodstock ’99 weren’t going to miss out on the tradition even though it was one of the hottest weekends in New York state that year and the festival primarily took place on a concrete tarmac. I’m still not sure to this day if they knew or even cared where the source of a lot of this mud came from.” — A.J.