21 Bands With Insane Live Performances

Crazy, chaotic, and unexpected...

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21 Bands With Insane Live Performances

Playing rock music, especially live, means to put a lot of energy into it. But some bands go even further, making their live shows totally insane and unpredictable, with endless streams of energy pouring from the stage and many crazy things, from destroying their instruments to even hurting themselves, being in the current moment.

So we prepared a list of 21 artists and bands whose live performances are really chaotic, insane and energetic.

NOTE: This list is not about the bands with just intense shows - it's more about the bands who do something "crazy" and "insane" during their live performances: crowd-surfing by band members, crazy moshing, etc.

And honorable mentions are:

  • ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead [early days]
  • Airbourne
  • Amen
  • And So I Watch You From Afar [early days]
  • Bad Brains [early days]
  • Black Flag
  • Boredoms
  • Brujeria
  • Brutal Truth
  • Butthole Surfers [early days]
  • Cage the Elephant
  • Code Orange
  • Dead Kennedys [early days]
  • Einstürzende Neubauten [early days]
  • Every Time I Die
  • Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes
  • HECK
  • Iggy Pop [early days]
  • John Coffey
  • Gallows
  • GG Allin
  • Kickback
  • La Dispute
  • Mindless Self Indulgence
  • Ministry [early days]
  • MuteMath
  • Neurosis
  • Nine Inch Nails [early days]
  • Nirvana
  • Orchid
  • Oxbow
  • Peelander Z
  • Pig Destroyer [early days]
  • Raccoo-oo-oon
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Rammstein
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Shining
  • Skinny Puppy [early days]
  • Sonic Youth [early days]
  • Spazz
  • Swans
  • The Dwarves
  • The Germs
  • The Jesus Lizard [early days]
  • The Locust [early days]
  • The Mars Volta
  • The Prodigy
  • Trash Talk
  • Whores.

So here's the list:

21. Raketkanon

Raketkanon are rather young Belgian band, who play a mix of noise rock, sludge metal, stoner and experimental rock, but their live shows are so energetic and crazy so they quickly begin to receive recognition.

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20. The Blood Brothers

The Blood Brothers were experimental post-hardcore/art punk band. With 2 vocalists and crazy instrumentation their live shows were totally insane.

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19. Head Wound City

Head Wound City are a experimental hardcore/noisecore supergroup consisting of Jordan Blilie and Cody Votolato of The Blood Brothers, Nick Zinner from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Justin Pearson and Gabe Serbian of The Locust. With such members their music has been described as rapid-fire bursts of noise and screams, or as vocalist Jordan Billie puts it, "It's kind of like if Alien and Predator started a band instead of fighting each other."

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18. At the Drive-In

One the most known and important post-hardcore bands, At the Drive-In are known for their extremely energetic stage shows which hearkened back to the 1980s hardcore scene.

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17. Converge

Converge, one of the most respected bands on the modern hardcore scene, were known for their highly energetic live shows, especially in their early days, helping to create the whole "chaotic hardcore" subgenre.

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16. B L A C K I E (All Caps, With Spaces)

A great example how one man can create truly energetic and emotional performance, B L A C K I E (All Caps With Spaces), born Michael LaCour, is American experimental musician. With his own style, consting of hip-hop, hardcore punk, noise, industrial, etc and his energetic and many times unscheduled performances he became legendary in Houston and even influenced MC Ride from Death Grips AND Travis Scott/Kanye West.

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15. Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt are a noise rock duo which consists of Brian Chippendale (drums, vocals) and Brian Gibson (bass). Lightning Bolt are known for their guerrilla-style highly-energetic live performances, where they typically play on the ground rather than a stage, with the crowd gathered around them.

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14. Holy Molar

Holy Molar, experimental noise rock/noisecore band, consisting of the members of who play or have played in The Locust, Antioch Arrow, Charles Bronson, Cattle Decapitation, etc. At live shows, members of Holy Molar wear dentist uniforms - and went totally crazy.

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13. Prurient

Active since 1997, Dominick Fernow aka Prurient has become one of the most well-known and influential names on the modern noise scene. As Dominick said,Prurient is strictly "anti-musical" and "selfish," so his live performances are highly intense and full of rage. Dominick Fernow also has many other projects which are more musical such as: Vatican Shadow, Christian Cosmos, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, Ash Pool, etc.

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12. Odd Future (OFWGKTA)

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, normally shortened to Odd Future and abbreviated to OFWGKTA, are an American hip-hop collective formed by Tyler, The Creator in 2007. They're widely known for their energetic live shows with crowdsurfing, stagediving and mosh pits and general, almost punk rock "don't give a fuck" attitude. For some shows they are also teamed up with the hardcore punk band Trash Talk.

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11. The Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza

The Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza were a hardcore band from Philadelphia. Although never gaining an impressive amount of popularity, Bad Luck 13 were notorious for their totally violent, riot-like live shows, with extreme onstage antics, which consisted of wrestling, property destruction, assaulting each other/the crowd with weapons (trash cans, ladders, fluorescent light bulbs, thumbtacks, & barbed wire baseball bats), firework lighting, and fire starting. Due to such kind of live shows, Bad Luck 13 were banned from almost every place they played.

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10. Hanatarash

Hanatarash were a noise project created by Boredoms frontman Yamantaka Eye and featured Zeni Geva guitarist Mitsuru Tabata. The outfit was notorious for their chaotic, anything-goes live shows. Not only was the music - a fusion of power noise and high-decibel screaming - extreme as all get out, but the band would also cause flabbergasting amounts of property damage whenever they played. At one show, Eye even commandeered a bulldozer and drove it through the back wall of the club. Other show was stopped due to Eye preparing to throw a lit Molotov cocktail onto the stage. 

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9. Norma Jean

In their early days with an original singer Josh Scogin Norma Jean were totally insane and chaotic live. Now none of the original members are in the band anymore.

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8. The Chariot

When Josh Scogin, an original vocalist of Norma Jean, left the band, he formed another group, The Chariot. Led by Scogin's energy, they built a reputation around their powerful live performances. The band split up in 2013, and Josh formed his new band, noise rock/garage punk duo '68.

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7. Slipknot

With 9 members in the lineup, Slipknot became popular for their totally insane live shows during their early days.

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6. Death Grips

Death Grips quickly gained wide recognition for their unique form of experimental/industrial hip-hop, their "punk" attitude, many controversial "anti-system" tricks - and for their powerful live shows, often accompanied by the destruction of the gear.

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5. Pg.99

Pg.99 (also spelled pageninetynine) were a screamo/hardcore punk/poerviolence band from Sterling, Virginia. Mostly being an eight-piece composed of two singers, three guitarists, two bassists and a drummer, Pg.99 were known for their really intense live shows. At their most extreme form, they would have up to 13 members on stage, from extra vocalists to kazoo players.

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4. letlive.

letlive. were known for their highly energetic and insane live shows, mostly thanks to the personality of their vocalist Jason Butler. On April 28th, 2017, the band announced their split.

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3. Ho99o9

Ho99o9 (pronounced horror) have earned a reputation for their insane mosh-heavy live shows. Ho99o9's unique mix of hip-hop, punk, metal and industrial genres is only amped up live.

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2. Botch

Botch, one of the most influential and prominent bands on the metalcore scene, created their own style later called "mathcore" and influenced many followers, including The Dillinger Escape Plan. They were known for their absolutely insane yet technical live shows.

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1. The Dillinger Escape Plan

Since their formation in 1997, The Dillinger Escape Plan earned a reputation of one of the most intense live bands. Even with their original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis (with whom their recorded 2 EPs and a debut albums) their shows were real chaos, but with Greg Puciato as the band's frontman they went even further and became one of the craziest live bands.

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Know more bands with chaotic and insane live performances? Feel free to post them in the comment section below.

99 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Nero Galon
    *cough* GG ALIN *cough*
    Thank you! As i was scrolling i though "hmm...probably #1...what?!"
    From the beginning i expected to see him on the first position... I guess UG is getting more shitical correct these days.
    I think its because he would be an obvious choice? I mean Dillinger Escape Plan are obvious too but you hear way more about GG Allin.
    Saw Dillinger on the penultimate tour, they were embarrassing.  They pulled cabs onstage to jump of and the whole thing looked choreographed - trying to look mental < actually going mental.
    In the honorable mentions... Fucking lame. Most of these are just stuck up hipster assholes or skinny every day hardcore dudes that decided to do something else besides their 40 hour a week jobs and videogames. 
    Glad LetLive made the list even though they split up. Saw them 4 different times and each time Jason would try some new shit that I'd never see him do before. Hanging upside down over the crowd, wrapping his cable around the audience and making them figure out how to get out, often ended up bleeding. I didn't like their newest album but damn they put on an energetic and cathartic show. 
    It was cathartic... really? Please google the meaning of that word and reconsider
    "providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions; causing catharsis." Yeah, it was a major release of emotions going on on stage and in the audience, so I don't think I misused it. Their singer Jason actually started crying at a few shows I was at. 
    Before even getting to no.1 I knew it would be Dillinger. Can't fault them at the energy of their shows.
    I scrolled through the whole list thinking, hmmm where's Dillinger. Glad I found them at the Bottom/Top, tough.
    Alice Cooper.  Hell, this guy is perhaps the definition of an amazing live performances. Iron Maiden is worthy of this article too.
    I absolutely love Alice Cooper. I've watched all his live DVDs and he's always amazing - scary, funny, over-the-top, it's perfect. And he has a great band too. I wish I could see him live.
    I had the pleasure of seeing Ho99o9 and DEP on the same night earlier this year. It was intense.
    What about Shining? They may not be the most energetic performers (well okay, which Northern European band is???) but Niklas' performances are insane and intense, beating the crowd, cutting himself, using things like crops and whips, stirring up the crowd etc. 
    My all-time favorite live video ever!.. It was really life-changing for me, and since that time Neurosis are my favorite band! Also I realized my dream and saw them live in 2013 - so despite they're getting older and not as insane as in 1990s/2000s - it's still one of the most intense and mindblowing live shows!..
    It's my favourite live video as well! I don't listen to Neurosis much, but I do have an enormous respect for them. I was lucky enough to see Scott on his solo tour with Noah and Greg Dale backing him up AND Neurosis in 2013. Had the honor to meet Scott, Noah and Dave. Both concerts were some of my favourite live experiences, and they were all really nice to me! And yeah, Neurosis were intense as hell! I remember Scott yelling some stuff while he was walking around stage during some of the instrumental sections! I don't know if he was angry about some sound issues or just plain possessed! 
    Yeah! I think they're all possessed - in a good way
    Airbourne deserve an honourable mention. Amp-climbing for days and the frontman smashes open beer cans with his head.
    HECK should be in here. Not a mainstream or popular band but slowly on the up! Mental live. 
    Wow, just checked them - they're really cool! Thanks for the suggestion!
    MuteMath is incredible on stage. Super tight and mad acrobatics. I remember the lead vocalist do a hand stand on the piano while he was playing!!
    Surprised to not see some any black metal bands like Mayhem or Gorgoroth mentioned.  Mayhem's frontman known for making himself bleed and Gorgoroth for their infamous shows with the impaled sheep heads, people on crucifixes and animals blood everywhere.  Seems noteworthy
    The Gorgoroth show was pretty insane. 2 naked men and 2 naked women, hooded, and roped onto crucifixes and enough sheeps head to fill a jacuzzi.  The Mayhem vocalist with the blood and sheeps head was Maniac. I saw them with Attila and he just carried a human skull and dressed like he just arrived from a stage production of MacBeth. 
    No Red Hot Chili Peppers? Come on now, those lads will walk out on stage with only gym socks on their dicks, then jump around like buffoons and play. How are they not crazy?
    You left room for the rich angsty hardcore dancing scene, and intentionally leave out GG Allin? No sir, you do not shit of GG Allin.. GG shits on you.
    No Dead Kennedys? No Green Day? No The Who?! I expected to see them at least in honorable mentions. Speaking of which, GG Allin gets only an honorable mention?! Good idea for an article, but terrible execution.
    Bedside Shred
    Most violent show I ever saw was Fiona Apple. Told some drunk fuck to shut the hell up and he cold cocked me. \m/ FIONEHHH
    no the who? are you kidding me? they destroyed their instruments every show and deafened themselves!
     "Americans want grungy people, stabbing themselves in the head on stage. They get a bright bunch like us, with deodorant on, they don't get it. " -Liam Gallagher
    When you see a noise band they either look like they don't know what the fuck they're doing("playing" instruments) or they go crazy eating their own poop and fighting with audience for shock value hoping nobody notices how shitty a musician they are.
    i don't think they were trying to make a "musically good show" list. just crazy ass stuff bands do live and a top20 of those (like crowd-surfing by band members, insane moshing and stuff like that).
    Yes, absolutely! But it seems that not all understand the point of this list
    Well when I saw them live as a guilty pleasure they had some great pyro and hung a guy at the beginning of the show, but I guess that's pretty tame compared to some of these bands.