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The 10 Loudest Rock Concerts In History

Updated December 31, 2018 60.4k views13 items

Maybe the Guinness Book of World Records can't hear us, but we want an entry for loudest concert. While the Guinness Book team has refused to to create an official record for loudest concerts due to the risk of hearing loss, there are examples of concerts over the years that were intense enough to make a lasting impact on music history and our hearing.

From Led Zeppelin to The Who to Foo Fighters, some bands have pushed the boundaries of sound and put on incredibly loud concerts that belong in the history books.

  • Photo: Center of the Universe / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    The Who (London, 1976)

    The Who broke loudness records decades before bands like Manowar attempted to shatter people's hearing. In 1976, the band earned the record for loudest concert during a performance in London at the Valley stadium. At the time, the Guinness Book of World Records was still documenting loudness at concerts, so the show was given the official highest honor.

    The sound levels during the band's set were said to have peaked at 126 decibels. 

  • Photo: Adam Kliczek / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Motorhead (Cleveland, 1986)

    In 1986, Motorhead played a legendary show at the Variety Theater in Cleveland, Ohio - a concert that would enter the history books as one of the loudest of all time. Levels of 130 decibels were reached during the show, and journalist Joseph Lanza recalled the event following the passing of the band's legendary bassist Lemmy in 2016.

    "It was wild seeing them playing as plaster was coming down," Lanza said. "Everyone was looking up - even the band was pointing at the plaster coming down during the songs."


  • Photo: Llann Wé² / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    KISS (Canada, 2009)

    Legendary glam rockers KISS reached insane loudness heights in 2009 during a performance at the Ottawa Bluesfest in Ottawa, Canada. The band was performing at levels of 136 decibels during the show, and was so loud that a city official had to tell their front-of-house sound engineer to turn the volume down.

    Luckily, the blistering performance was caught on video and archived on the internet for all to see. 

  • Gallows

    Video: YouTube

    British punk band Gallows claimed to have broken the loudness record intentionally, but they didn't do it in front of an audience. The band reportedly locked themselves in a studio and turned the volume up so loud that levels reached 132.5 decibels. 

    Good thing there wasn't an audience in that studio. And let's hope the band had their headphones on.