When you think of a typical concert, the same image comes to mind. A multitude of fans getting together under the roof of a venue (usually with a sticky floor) to listen to a band’s music and pay £6.50 for a pint. Sounds pretty standard, right? However, not all concerts have taken place in such a benign setting. In fact, there have been a number of concerts that have stretched the boundaries in terms of what defines a venue, as well as the limits of music performance. In this article, we will be looking at some of the most unique concerts played over the years and discussing what makes each individual gig so special.
The Beatles Rooftop Concert - 1969
You could argue that The Beatles were the originators of the unique concert trend. For their final ever public performance, The Fab Four took to the rooftop of the London Apple Corps offices (their multimedia company) on a freezing cold Thursday lunchtime in January. The band decided on the rooftop gig merely days before, and many Londoners on their lunch break looked up in shock to see John, Paul, George and Ringo performing from the top of a building. The concert was recorded and the footage was used to end the film Let it Be, which documented the recording of the album of the same name.
The band played a 42-minute set, which featured multiple takes of songs such as Get Back, Don’t Let Me Down and I’ve Got a Feeling. As crowds began to form, noise levels rose and traffic started to build on the surrounding roads. Eventually, the Metropolitan police were called to the scene. While the Apple Corps employees initially refused to let the police into the building, in the end they were forced to let them in out of fear of being arrested. The police ascended to the top of the building and put an end to the concert, but not before Paul McCartney was able to cleverly adlib the line “You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and you know your momma doesn’t like it, she’s gonna have you arrested” into the lyrics of Get Back. While the performance was painfully short-lived, there is no denying that the concert has since acquired a legendary status.
Check out the iconic footage of the concert here.
Rage Against the Machine at the New York Stock Exchange - 2000
Considering the anti-capitalist nature of a band like Rage Against the Machine, it’s hardly surpising that Zack de la Rocha and co thought it would be a good idea to perform outside the New York Stock Exchange. The performance was filmed and used in their music video for the song Sleep Now in the Fire, a song that deals directly with the history of greed in America. To make this performance even more fitting, the music video was directed by none other than filmmaker and activist Michael Moore. Ironically, the video jokingly features a man holding up a banner reading “Donald Trump for President 2000”. Little did they know what was to come...
The band performed on the steps of the Federal Hall, and were under strict instructions from Moore to not stop playing - no matter what happened. Rage managed to run through six takes of Sleep Now in the Fire before the shoot was eventually stopped by the NYPD, who feature in the music video. While the police dragged Moore away from the scene, the band and various other extras stormed the Stock Exchange. By 2:52pm that day, the NYSE was forced to close in the middle of the trading day: an achievement that RATM were proud to boast at the end of the music video. I think we can speak for most people by saying that a concert capable of bringing Wall Street to a halt on a Wednesday afternoon is pretty unique.
You can watch the fantastic video here.
Kasabian at Cabinet War Rooms - 2004
In June 2004, Leicester rockers Kasabian played a secret show to a group of lucky competition winners at the Cabinet War Rooms in Westminster. However, this isn’t merely a rock club with an edgy name. The Cabinet War Rooms is a historic underground bunker that was built during the Second World War, and was used by Churchill to continue the fight against the Nazis during the London Blitz.
Therefore, it seems bizarre that over sixty years later this very same spot was being used to perform indie bangers such as Club Foot and L.S.F. Today, this room is more commonly known as the Churchill War Rooms, and is part of one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. However, if it was a choice for us between an intimate Kasabian gig inside a bunker or a history lesson of wartime Britain, we certainly know which one we would pick.
Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any footage of this unique concert, but you can listen to Club Foot performed at the historic venue here.
The White Stripes at Eastview Bowl - 2007
This is one of the more peculiar concerts on this list. The brother-sister duo decided to host a free show at a bowling alley in Canada. You might think that this sounds like a ridiculous prospect and, to be honest, it sort of is. Even Eastview Bowl’s manager, Allison Hunter, thought the proposed concert was a joke before she received a call from The White Stripes’ management, who confirmed the performance. Over the next day Hunter messaged various people, informing them of the strange concert that was to take place at her bowling alley. An intimate crowd of less than 200 showed up for the bizarre performance – especially considering they’d opened for Linkin Park to almost 200,000 people at Rock Am Ring festival just a month earlier.
Jack and Meg White took to the “stage” dressed in their signature blood red outfits as they navigated across a number of lanes and towards their instruments. Without a single murmur to their audience, the duo played a mere fifteen minute set and opened with the track Red Bowling Ball Ruth (which only seems suitable). During their final song, Jack had his shot at bowling while still playing the guitar. While the first ball was reportedly a gutter ball, the second ball hit 8 pins - which is still pretty hardcore.
You can see footage of this bizarre performance – and Jack White’s bowling skills – here.
Metallica in Antarctica - 2013
We’ve really saved the best for last here. This concert is by far the most impressive of the list. In order to earn a Guinness World Record as the first band to play a concert in all seven continents of the world (in under a year!), Metallica took to a small dome in Antarctica to perform an hour-long show to an audience of 120 people. While Fall Out Boy were originally set to achieve this feat, the pop punk band were forced to cancel due to weather circumstances (although, we can’t say we’re too upset about that).
The crowd contained a strange mix of scientists from around the world and Metallica fans in the form of competition winners. However, it goes without saying that this small crowd witnessed a truly historical moment. The concert was appropriately titled ‘Freeze ‘Em All’, and the metal legends treated the crowd to fan favourites such as Master of Puppets, One and Enter Sandman – but they really missed a trick by not playing Trapped Under Ice. While Metallica are usually known for blaring their music across massive stadiums, this was not the case for this particular concert. In fact, due to the fragile nature of the local environment, Metallica played the entire show with no amplification whatsoever. Instead, the sound was transmitted to the audience via headphones. Think of it as a silent disco, but it’s all live, all Metallica and it takes place in Antarctica. If that doesn’t make for a unique concert, we don’t know what does.
The icy metal concert can be watched here.
Which strange location would your band choose to perform in? Your local cinema? The London Eye? Alcatraz Island? Before you can do this any of this, you’ll need some killer material recorded to perform. At Kore Studios, we offer aspiring artists access to a modern and professional recording studio, equipped with a mixture of high-end and vintage gear. Get in touch to arrange your tailored studio session today.