10 Notoriously Disastrous Musical Performances


Musicians make mistakes, too. They’re only human, after all. But that doesn’t stop us from delighting in a bit of good-natured Schadenfreude when a performance devolves into a total train wreck. This week has seen its share of disappointment when it comes to live music, including an abrupt end to Jack White’s concert at Radio City Music Hall and the Biebs losing his lunch in the middle of a 105-minute-long set. In light of such mishaps, we’ve put together a list of some of the most notoriously awful, embarrassing, or otherwise disastrous live performances in recent history.

Justin Bieber drinks too much “milk”

Justin Bieber’s Believe tour is off to a bewildering start after the post-pubescent pop sensation vomited onstage during his performance in Arizona. While the Internet may be aflutter with speculations over the cause of the Biebs’s gastrointestinal malfunctions, we can’t help but sit back and simply enjoy the spectacle. According to his Twitter, dairy may have been the culprit: “And …. Milk was a bad choice! Lol.” But either way, the video clip is 12 seconds of pure Bieber-bile bliss.

Kanye West fails to lock down SNL

Saturday Night Live has become notorious as a venue for performance gaffes. Lana Del Ray is one of the latest in a long history of maligned musical guests featured on SNL. From Sinead O’Conner to Ke$ha, there’s just too many to choose from, but this flat performance of “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West, sans his beloved Auto-Tune, is one of the more unbearable.

Kings of Leon’s bird-poop shower

In one of the more bizarre curiosities of performance history, Kings of Leon were forced to cut their set short in St. Louis in 2010 due to inclement… bird poop. The band made it three songs deep before becoming visibly uncomfortable as pigeon excrement rained down upon the stage.

Ashlee Simpson gets jiggy on SNL

Lip-sync screw-ups, like the infamous Milli Vanilli scandal, are probably the most immediately gratifying way to see an artist derail their career. Ashlee Simpson comes in at a close second for humiliating lip-sync slips, when during her SNL performance she and her supporting band began to perform “Autobiography” while the recorded vocals for “Pieces of Me” played instead. Simpson flounders around stage, dancing a weird jig before apologizing at the end of the show. The pop singer seems to be a magnet for performance gaffes, as she was also notably booed at the Orange Bowl.

Portugal could care less about Nickelback

Is there anything in the world more satisfying than watching a disgruntled crowd throw stones at Nickelback? Simply put: no, there isn’t.

Guns N’ Roses abuse your illusion

A band with as extensive of a career as Guns N’ Roses is bound to face its share of blunders. Case in point: the entirety of the epic ’91-’93 Use Your Illusion Tour. Following a series of technical difficulties and other setbacks, multiple performances broke out into riots, controversy, and discontent. The band arrived late to their famously disastrous show at Calder Park in Melbourne, where temperatures skyrocketed and restless crowds were being charged for water. During a 1991 show in St. Louis, Axl Rose famously slammed the mic down before walking off stage. The noise was apparently confused for a gunshot by the crowd, inciting what would become known as the Riverport Riot.

Katy Perry eats it

At the end of a 2008 performance of “I Kissed A Girl” in Mexico, Katy Perry dives into a giant cake and proceeds to embarrassingly flop around, falling down multiple times before she eventually crawls offstage.

OutKast goes “native”

There’ve been quite a few notably terrible musical acts at the Grammy Awards over the years, but this one by OutKast from 2004 was memorably awful, both for the horrendous musical performance and for stirring up controversy over its offensive portrayal of Native American stereotypes.

Britney Spears can’t call it a comeback

At the 2007 MTV Music Awards, Britney Spears apparently either forgot the words to her own song or didn’t feel it necessary to keep up with the recorded vocals. Spears has long been a target of both deserved and undeserved humiliation, but this was definitely one of the saddest performances of her career. The all-American pop icon was also famously caught in a foul-mouthed microphone gaffe during a show in 2001, in which she repeatedly describes things as being “retarded.”

Green Day would never vomit onstage

Another recent train wreck of a performance came from Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, who suffered a complete meltdown when the band’s set was cut short during the iHeartRadio Music Festival, announcing between obscenities that he is decidedly not Justin Bieber. Rolling Stone reports that Armstrong is now seeking substance abuse treatment.