When two of rock’s biggest acts descended on Montreal on Aug. 8, 1992, fans anticipated a show for the ages. What they got was a riot.
Metallica and Guns N’ Roses were in the midst 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 pyrotechnics accident that left him with second- and third-degree burns. Metallica immediately ended their set and rushed the singer to a hospital. Fans would have to wait another two hours before Guns N’ Roses took the stage.
When GNR finally began their set, singer Axl Rose, who had already complained about technical issues earlier on the tour, was suffering from vocal discomfort. Frustrated, he cut the band’s set short, announced it would be “our last show for a long time” and walked offstage. In response, the crowd went ballistic.
Fans smashed up parts of the Olympic Stadium, then spilled into the streets, overturning a police car, lighting fires, breaking windows and looting. Police showed up in riot gear and used tear gas to subdue the mob. In total, the riot caused nearly half a million dollars in damages and led to a dozen arrests.
While the scene in Montreal that night wasn’t expected, it also wasn’t unprecedented. Throughout rock history, there are many examples of concerts that have, for one reason or another, devolved into anarchy. We’ve rounded up 18 examples below.
Concerts That Turned Into Riots
Sometimes shows can get out of control.