Rocks Off is not going to lie. The prospect of getting into concerts for free is what leads many people to become music writers/reviewers in the first place. Though it's not true of everyone, we've generally found that with experience comes plenty of practice in the art of grading on a curve.
But not always. Buy enough bananas and once in a while you'll get one that's rotten. Some concerts just plain stink. Why not ten? We just couldn't stand the smell.
5 Finger Death Punch/Moody Blues I could go so many ways with this one. I've been force-fed so much live music from bands I can't stand that I could easily write a book about it rather than just a few paragraphs. For the longest time, the worst show that I ever saw was a Moody Blues show in the late '90s. Just because of how bad they sounded, the majority of the crowd left pretty much right after "Knights in White Satin," which was only the third or fourth song of the set. That was a long time ago, and I've seen much worse since then, but that one always stood out as being terrible.
The most recent band that I can claim as worst live band ever is 5 Finger Death Punch. Their music was all over the place, jumping genres from rock to metal to rap/rock to acoustic douche-rock to frat-rock -- each attempt at a genre being worse than the last. Also, the front man was the epitome of horrible, the type of guy who would kick a dog. The type of guy that would drive through a puddle just so he could splash someone on the sidewalk. A guy who would flick a cigarette at your chest and walk away with a smile on his face giving you the middle finger. A guy not even his own mother likes.
What a terrible band. The only good part about 5FDP was that the bassist's beard looked just like Davy Jones' from those Pirates of the Caribbean movies, only his was made out of hair and not those weird tentacle things. JIM BRICKER
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Adema I've seen a lot of terrible acts in my day, but once when I was in college I had the misfortune of sitting through nu-metal nobodies Adema. I know that sounds like a mean description, but considering the fact that they're little more than the answer to a trivia question ("Remember the band featured the singer from Korn's little (half-)brother?") at this point I don't feel too bad about it.
Here's the thing I remember about Adema: I fell asleep during their set. Straight up. Do you know how hard it is to fall asleep during an indoor concert while a band is playing? It's not easy. But they were so boring, so uninteresting that I just drifted off to slumberland.
Maybe those minutes I nodded off would have knocked my socks off, but I find that hard to believe. At least Disturbed brought out Dimebag and Vinnie to play "Walk" later that night. That was cool. CORY GARCIA
Angels and Airwaves I grew up on a steady diet of '90s and early-'00s pop punk, and blink-182 were the leaders of that pack. So when Angels and Airwaves were set to headline Bayou Music Center back in 2008 when it was still known as the Verizon Wireless Theater, I was excited for the prospect of seeing a musician I'd grown up with.
But no amount of love and respect that I had for blink-182 could salvage the disgust I felt when I saw Angels and Airwaves live. The band itself was just... bad. They were out of time with one another while Tom DeLonge's vocals were virtually nonexistent. Sure, every band has an off day, and I can forgive it if they're at least passionate.
But combine terrible playing with DeLonge talking shit to his fans because they were stuck in the seats, and they lost me. To all you musicians out there, don't be a dick like Tom DeLonge and rub salt in the wound of your loyal fans, who are paying more to be further away from you. ALYSSA DUPREE
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Citizen Cope The worst show I've been to is, unfortunately, Citizen Cope, whom I actually like in theory. The problem with that concert was not that Citizen Cope's entire catalog runs together in concert (which it does, but that's besides the point), it was that a bunch of super-annoying audience members kept yelling "Sideways" in between make-out sessions, and it killed the vibe.
Citizen Cope's is not exactly the highest-energy music, and when you throw in a group of fools who, in their altered states, are screaming above the mellow vocals while falling over on you in the midst of their slobbering all over each other, well, it sucks. He'll get to the damn song, which is apparently the only one you know, and it'll be on his timeline, asshats.
I wouldn't know what that time line was, though, because I left. It was that obnoxious. ANGELICA LEICHT
Pat Green If memory serves, I first encountered Pat Green in the winter of 1997/8 at the now long-shuttered Fabulous Satellite Lounge. We had friends in town and they wanted to catch some live music. I had been reading about this Pat Green kid in the Waco newspapers that lay around my dad's house and I'd heard about him from my son. The Satellite was our regular weekend hang, and generally it could be relied on to put in top-shelf roots acts.
The first thing we noticed was the general youth in the audience. This was probably the youngest crowd I'd ever seen in the Satellite. Green and his fiddle-steel band were rocking out onstage. Or trying to rock out. Surrounding us were all these fratty-looking ballcap guys drinking Miller Lite by the barrel. They weren't even bothering to take their bottles back to the bar, just started dropping them in the floor. Classy.
Within a couple of songs, we grew very restless. Finally my out of town friends, not wanting to seem rude, asked, "Do you actually like this guy?"
Me: "No. This sucks. It really sucks."
"Yeah, this is pretty lame. Let's get out of here."
I've never seen Green again. And nothing he's done or recorded since is likely to change that, no matter how many Joe Ely covers he does. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Whitney Houston It's taboo to speak ill of the dead, so it's unfortunate that the performer at center stage of the worst concert I've ever attended was Whitney Houston. I was a fan when I went into the show, but was less of one coming out. That's never occurred before or since, so it must meet some weird "worst concert ever" criteria.
Her biggest sin was her insistence on singing every song with prolonged, exaggerated melisma. That stuff is a little like garlic; okay when it's measured out correctly. Every line in every song is too much. Also, we'd come to hear the pop hits we'd heard on the radio ans she rearranged at least two or three to be nearly unrecognizable. Why? It made no sense. She couldn't dance and had no real stage presence. And, as everyone knows, the girl sweated like Patrick Ewing during overtime.
I'll put it this way -- if your opening act is Kenny G and he blows you away, you had an off night. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
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Mos Def I'm not the biggest fan of Mos Def/Yasiin Bey to begin with, but I am a massive fan of the Black Star album he did with Talib Kweli. That's the main reason I went to see him at House of Blues back in 2009. That was a huge mistake. I paid to see Mos Def the rapper, but what he really felt like we wanted was to hear him doing bad karaoke of old soul songs he could barely remember the lyrics to and playing the fucking drums.
For an interminable length of time, Mos got behind a kit and played the most boring drum solos you've ever heard. He even had another guy come out and duel with him! I did not sign up for that, and I left after the almost two hour show in astonishment at the self-indulgence. I'll stick to the Black Star record, thanks. COREY DEITERMAN
Kitty Pryde A lot of variables could contribute to a concert being a "bad show": the sound quality, the actual sound of the artist(s), the talent level, the music itself, whether or not the music is genuine, the commitment to the performance by the artist, the crowd's interest or participation, the flow of the concert, the overall entertainment level. I have taken the time to list off of these factors to illustrate the fact that every single one of them contributed to Kitty Pryde's 2013 Free Press Summer Fest "performance," establishing it as the worst live show I have ever seen.
Pryde's show, in a word, was WACK. Wack as hell.
The sound was bad, her rhymes weren't particularly creative or clever, the music was boring (she devolved into doing other people's rhymes 15 minutes into the show), the crowd could have cared less, the concert was choppy as all getout and made absolutely no sense, and the show was not at all entertaining.
I came to see this new female rap ingenue due to many a write-up I had read throughout the spring. What I witnessed was not the new face of female hip-hop, but a girl who seemed wholeheartedly disingenous.
The worst part about the performance, far worse than me and the audience not believing in what Pryde was doing, was the fact that she truly appeared to not believe in herself, either. She apologized multiple times to the crowd for not being a "real" rapper, screwed up several songs, and overall seemed like she was uncomfortable performing. She made me feel very uncomfortable too. SELENA DIERINGER
Billy Bob Thornton & Friends The worst live act I ever saw was at Willie Nelson's Fourth of July picnic in 2003. It was Billy Bob Thornton's band. Not the Boxmasters, they're actually pretty good, but the one he was in before that. I think it might have just been called The Billy Bob Thornton Band.
First, it was the lame, toothless hybrid rock/blues/country sound that so many white Hollywood stars of that age seem to go in for - Bruce Willis and Kevin Bacon being just two further examples. Second, Billy Bob was off his game, and his vocals were terrible: he was off-pitch and slow to the beat at least half of the time, and you could tell no matter how many backup singers he tried to bury himself in.
Finally, they closed their set with just about the most godawful melodramatic "ballad" I've ever heard, about his daughter and his addictions or some shit, and you could tell they wanted it to be this big powerful moment but it all just fell flat. Billy Bob's singing, the song's anticlimactic arrangement, the sheer inappropriateness of even attempting it at an easygoing outdoor festival at four in the afternoon, everything about it was dreadful.
I was embarrassed on behalf of the poor guy, who didn't seem to realize in that moment he was actually in Dwight Yoakam's hilariously incompetent band from Sling Blade. JOHN SEABORN GRAY
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