When two of rock’s biggest acts came to Montreal on Aug. 8, 1992, fans waited ages for a show. What they got was a riot.
Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses were in the middle of a North American tour when they arrived in the Canadian city. Metallica would be the first of the co-headliners to perform, but things took a dangerous turn during their set. As the band performed “Fade to Black”, frontman James Hetfield was injured in a pyrotechnic accident that left him with second and third degree burns. Metallica immediately ended their set and rushed the singer to a hospital. Fans had to wait another two hours before Guns N’ Roses took the stage.
When GNR finally started their set, singer Axel Rose, who had already complained of technical problems earlier in the tour, suffered from vocal discomfort. Frustrated, he cut the band’s set short, announced it would be “our last show for a long time” and walked off the stage. In response, the crowd went ballistic.
Fans smashed parts of the Olympic stadium and then spilled into the streets, overturning a police car, lighting fires, smashing windows and looting. The police appeared in riots and used tear gas to quell the mob. In all, the riot caused nearly half a million dollars in damage and led to a dozen arrests.
While the scene in Montreal that night was not expected, it was not without precedent either. Throughout the history of rock, there are many examples of concerts that for one reason or another have descended into anarchy. We have collected 18 examples below.
Concerts that turned into riots
Sometimes shows can get out of control.