2. The Return of the Riot
Nov. 7, 2002, was supposed to be a big night for Axl Rose. After a decade of changing trends, ugly rumors and zero music out of Guns N' Roses, there were serious questions about whether Rose would or even could perform again. Still, a surprise tour announcement that summer had fans salivating. He was bringing his band of ringers to Vancouver to prove that GNR was alive and well.
Rose, as it turns out, was not. In an incredible-yet-predictable move, the band actually no-showed their own triumphant return gig. By 9:30, the time GNR was scheduled to go on, Rose wasn't even in Canada. According to Guns' management, his flight's departure from L.A. had been delayed by mechanical troubles. The concert was canceled before the doors even opened, and as if on cue, a riot broke out.
Following the announcement of the cancellation, angry fans convened at the gates of the venue and started ramming long, metal security barriers through the glass entry doors. As the air filled with bottles and rocks, riot cops arrived wielding the traditional batons and pepper spray. Before the melee ground to a bloody halt, the rioters had caused $350,000 in damages and destroyed 65 plate glass windows.
If Guns N' Roses weren't quite back yet, they were certainly still dangerous.
1. Mayhem in Montreal
In 1992, there was one rock concert circled on the calendar of every headbanger in North America: Guns N' Roses and Metallica, the two biggest, baddest bands in the world at the time, joined forces to annihilate the eardrums of the entire Western Hemisphere. With GNR's Use Your Illusion and Metallica's black album blowing up MTV and the charts, this tour was the very definition of "can't-miss." When the heaviest show on earth rolled into Montreal on August 8, les Québécois were ready to bang hard. As you may have guessed, things didn't quite go according to plan.
Things began unraveling during Metallica's set, when singer James Hetfield was caught in one of the band's 12-foot-high pyrotechnic flame effects. The group was forced to cut their set short as Hetfield was rushed to the hospital with second- and third-degree burns.
Guns N' Roses could have swooped in and saved the day with a transcendent performance, assuming the band hadn't been in rough shape themselves. Drugs, alcohol and the road were taking a serious toll on the group, and they'd postponed their previous three shows due to problems with Rose's voice.
The band gamely took the stage two hours later, but called it quits after just 55 minutes, citing a faulty sound system. (The same sound system that Metallica had used, mind you.) Feeling cheated out of the concert of the year, the crowd began to riot, overturning concession stands inside the stadium venue and setting cars ablaze outside. 300 club-wielding police officers chased rioters through the city streets and fired tear gas to regain control. The cops even shut down four nearby subway stations to prevent the riot from spreading to the transit system. All told, the incensed concert-goers caused $400,000 in damage to Montreal's Olympic Stadium, earning Guns N' Roses a lifetime ban from the venue and forever cementing their status as the world's most dangerous band.