Between the return of shoegazers My Bloody Valentine, whose live shows are famous for reaching eardrum-shredding volume, and the unveiling of James Murphy and Soulwax’s Despacio, a soundsystem so powerful that cranked to full volume would “make people vomit blood” according to creator David Dewaele, we’ve heard some loud live music over the past few years. But what’s the loudest gig ever? Here are five acts who’ve cranked the volume dials on their amps to record breaking levels to give you some ideas…
Leftfield, London, June 1996
Electronic pioneers Leftfield caused pieces of plaster from the Brixton Academy ceiling to fall onto the crowd at their show in support of 1995 album ‘Leftism’ after reaching volumes of 137 dB, with crowd members reported as fainting under the physical toll of the noise. 137 dB, by the way, is the ear-bleeding equivalent of strapping yourself to the bottom of a Boeing 747 as it takes off.
The Who, Charlton, May 1976
The Who made it into the Guinness Book Of Records for the loudest ever gig in May 1976 for their show at Charlton Athletic football club’s Valley stadium, measured at 120 dB from 50 metres away – described by another Who, the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “the threshold of pain”.
Deep Purple, London, September 1972
Three fans were rendered unconcious by the 117 dB assault conjured by Deep Purple at a 1972 concert at London’s 3000-seater Rainbow Theater.
KISS, Ottowa, 2009
Gene Simmons and co were ordered to turn down the dials on their glam rock by police after clocking 136 dB during a 2009 show, drawing complaints from neighbours. Weirdly, ear plugs are about the only area of merchandise KISS haven’t yet expanded into.
What’s the loudest gig you’ve experienced? Let us know on Twitter using #LoudestGig