Top 10 Badass Concert Videos Before 2000

In today’s techno-crazed age, it is all too easy to hold up a smart phone, obtain concert footage and whack it up on Youtube in the same night. In the far-off time before every one and their great aunt carried around recording equipment in their back pocket, it took a considerable amount of effort for fans to capture live performances. Often too archaic to even know who’s on stage, but occasionally so rare that without them, modern music fans would have no idea of the importance of the live shows of yesteryear. The following chart counts down the ten most hardcore, historic, and rebellious performances prior to the year 2000.

This is Blast Magazine’s Top 10 Badass Concert Videos Before Y2K. Enjoy…

10. Bad Brains – “Banned in DC” Live at CBGB, NYC, 1982

At the heart of 80’s hardcore (possibly the most “badass” of all genres of music, ever) were DC’s Bad Brains. This footage from Manhattan’s infamous CBGB club shows exactly why you could not attend a Bad Brains show without expecting to leave without a few mosh-induced contusions. The “Banned in DC” clip, also has a couple the few of the most insane concert moments youtube has to offer. Look out for “Yellow Shirt Guy” who is relentless in his refusal to learn that no matter how many times you jump on the stage; your gonna’ get tossed off it. Also note front man, H.R’s, impressive ability to pull off a rhythmic diddy-bop in the midst of the mayhem.

9. The Replacements – “I Will Dare” Live at Orange County Speedway, 1989

Prior to their break-up in 1991, Paul Westerberg and The Replacements were renowned for being the most unpredictable live act of their generation. At times too inebriated to perform their own material; the band would occasionally put together set lists compiled entirely of boozy covers of artists like Dusty Springfield or Bryan Adams. Sometimes, they were able to complete immaculate, rousing performances of their own stellar back-catalogu. Surprisingly, this sketchy handy-cam recording of Westerberg is some of the highest quality live footage of the band around. Who ever had the presence of mind to capture this version of “I Will Dare” from the classic “Let It Be” album, should be saluted and thanked infinitely.

8. The Stone Roses – “I Wanna Be Adored” Live at Blackpool Empress Ballroom, 1989

There are certain moments of certain gigs that are memorable for more than just nostalgic reasons. At times, the pinnacle of a band’s success is crystallized in the live rendition of a single song. Following release of their self-titled debut The Stone Roses ended the year with the biggest gig they’d ever played. 4,000 sweaty fans crammed themselves into the Empress Ballroom in English seaside town, Blackpool. Many had made pilgrimage from the band’s hometown, Manchester, to see self-proclaimed-demigod front man, Ian Brown swagger through the dreamy set. “I wanna be adored,” sang brown; on this night, he was worshipped.

7. Henry Rollins (Black Flag) punches a fan

This pick for our chart is pretty self-explanatory. In his Black Flag days, Henry wasn’t just a badass, he was borderline scary.

6. The Smiths – This Charming Man, Top of the Pops, 1983

A skinny Morrissey wearing a frilly shirt and waving around a bunch of flowers may not seem a good choice for this chart. Not to mention the fact that this is far from a “live” performance. But amidst the shower of synth-pop and shoulder pads on 80’s TOPT, The Smiths deliberately eccentric appearance is one of cleverest presentations of the middle finger to the major-label-pop-machine of all time.

5. The Clash -“White Riot” Live at Victoria Park, London, 1978

Filmed on stage at Victoria Park, this video captures so many of the things that made Joe Strummer and The Clash so brilliant. The camera follows a sweary rush to plug in some mics and amps before the band leaps into an epic version of “White Riot.” Shots of the crushing crowd show why Clash gigs have such a legendary reputation.

4. The Sex Pistols – “God Save the Queen” Live on the Thames River, London, 1977

In their early days, every move The Sex Pistols made was considered a cock-sure cut of rebellion. In 1976 the band played the mysterious “gig that changed the world” in Manchester that is said to have been the catalyst that inspired the forming of bands like The Smiths, Joy Division, and The Buzzcocks. A year later, on the Queen’s silver jubilee, The Sex Pistols and a rag tag posse of punks took their anti-establishment musical protests to the mucky waters of the Thames River. On modest chug boat, named after her majesty, Johnny Rotten and the boys rollicked through most of the tracks from their seminal album, “Never Mind The Bollocks.” Naturally, the most poignant moment of the performance came with this rendition of punk anthem, “God Save the Queen.”

3. Notorious B.I.G Freestyles on the streets of Brooklyn, 1991

Though nothing about Biggie’s appearance ever suggested that he was in need of feeding, this short clip of the 17 year-old’s freestyle in Bed-Stuy demonstrates the kind of raw talent and hunger that is as rare as the footage itself. Before the million dollar videos on speedboats with Puff Daddy, the young Christopher Wallace clearly already possessed enough swagger to make an entire block stop to marvel at his emceeing skills. Armed with nothing more than a hanky to wipe the sweat from his brow and a mic to spit into, this video captures the birth of one hip-hop’s greatest figures. “I’m the perfect competitor,” says the rapper in one of the early bars of this freestyle, and few could ever disagree.

2. Santana – “Soul Surrender” Live at Woodstock, 1969

Of the numerous acts captured in Michael Wadleigh’s superb footage of Woodstock, many could have made it to the top end of this chart. Hendrix’s unbelievable electrified “Star Spangled Banner,” The Who’s famous headline performance, Joan Baez playing for her imprisoned activist husband; all these moments made Woodstock into the historic festival it is now considered. Watching Carlos Santana battle through acid-induced hallucinations of snakes replacing the neck of his guitar to achieve some of the most face-melting riffs of all time, however, seems more badass than anything that the already established acts at the festival could possibly contend with.

1. James Brown – “Get it Together” Live at The Boston Garden, April 5, 1968

There are moments in history that call for a true badass, a godfather, to take control. On April 5, the night after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, James Brown was scheduled to perform at The Boston Garden. With large cities around the nation anticipating mass riots, Boston’s mayor, Kevin White considered postponing the show. Thankfully, instead, the mayor decided to have the gig televised on WGBH. The move proved to be incredibly shrewd and is credited with keeping the streets of Boston quiet while other cities were sent reeling by violent protests. As a highly revered figure of black America, Brown was arguably the only entertainer of the time who could have calmed the tension of the time. In this incredible clip, the Godfather of Soul instructs police to allow fans to come on stage. Though this move could easily have sparked hysteria at the end of the successful show, Brown is able to diffuse the situation with some stern words followed by a stellar performance of “Get it Together.” He was crowned many times throughout his formidable career. For being the one badass able to prevent riots rather than start them, James Brown tops our list.

About The Author

Joseph Ransom is a Blast correspondent

One Response

  1. Kelly Tuke

    Bravo! Excellent highlights indeed! Especially enjoyed Ian Brown’s yo-yo…any clue if this was a staple of his performances, or was this an exclusive appearance?


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