I loathe aggression in music. When 50 Cent got bottled at Reading, I barely even doubled up laughing.
Even so, there’s something about a hefty uppercut caught on camera that appeals to the horrible nihilistic bastard in us all. I was reminded of that today when someone sent me this clip of Robbie Furze from The Big Pink punching a heckler’s lights out (0.35).
Obviously that’s a totally unacceptable way to treat your own paying fans. A karate kick to the Adam’s apple would’ve been far more appropriate.
Predictably, it inspired a flurry of office emails where everyone suggested their own favourite examples of onstage violence. Here are a few of the best/funniest/most deplorable/delete as appropriate.
Ian Brown looks like he’s enjoying this scrap, during a gig in San Francisco, a little too much.
Henry Rollins lamps a fan repeatedly, back in the days when he was less thoughtful raconteur, more musclebound thug.
“When a cat gets on your turf, you gotta chop him down,” explained Rolling Stones axeman Keith Richards after this incident.
Here, the normally mild-mannered Jeff Tweedy of Wilco unleashes alt-country hell on a stage invader (1.12).
Jay Reatard, who sadly died earlier this year, had a similar zero-tolerance attitude to fans getting all up in his grill, as this clip demonstrates (1.35).
Even emo bands have a violent side. Here’s Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, going down swinging (1.45) after some perceived slight (perhaps they’d pinched his hair-straighteners).
Everyone’s seen this Axl Rose clip, where he launches himself at someone in the moshpit, but somehow it never gets old (1.22).
From the film Dig!, here’s the Brian Jonestown Massacre disintegrating in a flurry of fisticuffs (1.50). Worth watching to the end for the Spinal Tap-worthy line, “You fucking broke my sitar, motherfucker!”
Remember Shitdisco? They had a memorable mid-gig dust-up too.
Most impressive of all, though, is Tool singer Maynard James Keenan. In this clip he manages to wrestle a stage-invader to the ground – then pins him there for the length of a whole song, while never missing a note. That’s professionalism.