The unpredictability of audiences and touring can cause problems onstage, even if a band has their set down pat.
Although we can’t go to San Diego shows in order to stop the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19, we can still reflect on these wild concert moments with affection and a healthy dose of WTF.
1. Pinback got back stolen bass
Musicians usually NEVER get their stolen instruments back. Pinback from San Diego, however, are an exception to the norm.
About a half hour into the band’s 2012 San Diego Music Thing set at the Sunset Temple room, bandmember Zach Smith noticed his bass was missing. The band stopped the show to investigate, but it was drummer Chris Prescott that rescued the custom-made instrument.
“He spotted a man stuffing the bass into a trashcan, and then saw the man run down the street,” reads a San Diego CityBeat article via Brooklyn Vegan. “Prescott tried to stop him several times — at one point, he says, the man begged just to be let go — before successfully intercepting him inside Queen Bee’s.”
The thief was arrested, and justice for bass players everywhere was served.
2. Fan tried to hug Morrissey
Many fans probably wanted to hug former Smiths singer Morrissey before his, let’s say, problematic beliefs came to light … Few, however, would actually charge the stage while the British crooner was performing, like this concert goer did in 2018 at Copley Symphony Hall.
Some reports claimed the fan was attacking Morrissey but the singer’s manager later clarified it was a hug in a statement.
“The fan in question was certainly more aggressive in reaching out for him than most,” read the statement on Morrissey’s Facebook page. “Security had to do their job and subdue the fan. That’s all it was. In the end no one was hurt, and no one was arrested.”
The fan was dragged offstage and the show was stopped. Fortunately, it was towards the end of the show so attendees got the most out of their likely very expensive tickets.
3. Burning of Rome brought pig heads to San Diego Music Awards
So this was a first (and likely last) for the San Diego Music Awards (SDMAs): San Diego-based Burning of Rome used five impaled pig heads as props during their 2009 SDMA performance.
The reception to the gimmick was mixed, as made evident by a San Diego Reader report by Ken Leighton.
SDMA exec director Kevin Hellman said: “This was a band that was just doing what a lot of bands do: finding a way to get publicity. I’m sure bands have done crazier things. What did people say when Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off of a bat?”
Others said it was “deplorable” to support the meat industry and some thought it was a corny move, like Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation. (Now THIS is a band that can comment on the use of livestock body parts.)
“It’s kind of cheesy,” Ryan told San Diego Reader. “So many bands have done that. It didn’t seem to mesh with what they were doing onstage.”
4. Life of Agony singer got bit in the leg
Now here’s something that doesn’t happen everyday: A tattoo artist from Eden Tattoo bit Life of Agony’s singer Mina Caputo’s leg in 2018 at Brick by Brick.
Caputo had just declared that San Diego’s water “tastes like farts” moments before the bite, according to Greg Cerwonka, whose band Take Offense had opened the show. (I think the fart water comment was the catalyst for bite, but that’s just one reporter’s opinion.)
Engared, Caputo began yelling obscenities. She later tweeted out a picture of the biter in question, advising San Diego venues to ban her from future shows.
Life of Agony biting incident part 2 pic.twitter.com/ohOi6R0NKC
— Whole Ass Cracker (@mr_mocaine) May 23, 2018
The tattoo artist later apologized online, saying that “Eden Tattoo and [its] artists do not represent my actions as I am my own person.” Caputo later forgave the artist, tweeting a screenshot of the note on Twitter.
5. The Black Lips’ Hard Rock Café show got shut down
Usually bands play for 45 minutes or more, but Atlanta rockers The Black Lips played for just several minutes at the Hard Rock Café in 2012.
In a 2018 interview, frontman Jared Swiley told ListenSD that he remembers a riot-like situation with the crowd surging forward and barriers being pushed away:
“I remember a bouncer unplugging my guitar. Sometimes, when you get bouncers like that — if they overreact — it creates this cycle of tension,” Swiley said. “I think they had outside security who didn’t know how to handle that type of situation, and it just got a little out of control. I remember getting pretty rowdy too, and I got tackled by a bouncer.”
Ironically, the band got cut off during the song “Short Fuse.” The band was still allowed to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel and got a cake sent up to their room (it was Swiley’s birthday).
“The next morning, one of the [receptionists] was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Support the Black Lips,’” said Swiley. “I thought that was funny since she worked there. For the most part, I think it was all just in good nature, kind of a misunderstanding.”
6. NIN stops show due to medical emergency
Nine Inch Nails (NIN) was 10 songs into their set at Cox Arena (now Viejas Arena) September 16, 2005 when drummer Jerome Dillon began having chest pains.
The band stopped playing and around 30 minutes later, singer Trent Reznor told the audience: “Here’s what’s up, no bullshit. Jerome [Dillon] came to me and said, ‘My heart is pounding and I’m having chest pains.’ We’re all kind of freaked out back here.”
The show was stopped and postponed to November 20 of that year.
Dillon was given a clean bill of health later, but eventually had to leave the NIN tour because of issues related to a congenital heart condition.
7. Fergie peed her pants during The Black Eyed Peas set
The Black Eyed Peas were running late to their set at San Diego Street Scene festival in 2005, when singer Fergie couldn’t hold it any longer. Likely, the “My Humps” singer didn’t have time to hit a porta potty before the gig and peed her pants.
In an interview with Ebro in the Morning on radio station Hot 97, Fergie detailed the infamous peeing incident.
“I’m running on and we jump and do ‘Let’s Get It Started’, and I get crazy and I jump and I run across the stage and my adrenaline was going and gosh,” she said. “I wish it didn’t happen … It was so embarrassing!”
She got it started alright!
8. Man peed in the front row at a Father John Misty show
Speaking of peeing … A man urinated in the front row of a Father John Misty show at Humphrey’s by the Bay in 2017.
Singer Joshua Tillman was mid-way through his song “Nancy From Now On,” when he stopped, lit a cigarette, and stared at the peeing man.
According to Brian Strauss’ ListenSD review of the show, Tillman told the man: “I appreciate you being so existential about it … I can confidently say I’ve never had someone pissing on people at one of my shows.”
9. Fan gets eaten out during Dead Kennedys’ set
Little did the Dead Kennedys know that when they played the Belly Up Tavern in 2015, a couple thought performing oral sex on stage during “Police Truck” would be the right move.
San Diego radio personality Chris Cantore wrote: “Photos show the woman fully exposed and belly up on the stage with a man performed oral sex on her.” (Gives “belly up” a whole new meaning …) The pair was thrown out by security.
In a statement, the Belly Up said: “Of course, we don’t condone this activity in our establishment and security stopped it right away. This is certainly a first for us.”
10. XXXTentacion got sucker punched on stage
North Park was buzzing with police activity in 2017 the night that late rapper XXXTentacion got punched on stage at the Observatory North Park. Also during the disruption, an audience member was stabbed, according to a report by Timothy Rawles in San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.
Many caught the punch on video, which was promptly posted to social media. XXXTentacion also went on social media with his own video in which he claimed that Observatory’s security had set him up.
Hip-hop publication XXL Magazine later said there had been beef between XXXTentacion and rapper Rob Stone. With Stone’s hometown being San Diego, it’s likely that the punch wasn’t very random at all …