15 Drummers Remember Their Worst Gigs

Adam Shaw (Lost City Angels)

When: Summer, 2003
Where: Reno, Nevada
What: This place had no security and a stage two-feet high, and by the middle of the set, kids were dog piling on the floor. So I thought it would be a good idea to get the kids on the stage for a second. I had no idea every single one would get on the stage. Kids were crawling all over the gear and all over the stage. I was seriously getting trampled by ten pairs of Vans high-tops. I look to my left and witnessed the buckling of the bass and guitar cabinets, which then leads to about 15 kids falling into me and throwing the overheads right past me. It was a disaster, and not to mention that we were using Dropkick Murphys’ backline. After I got myself together, I saw all of DKM’s crew and players putting the line back up. The first thing that came to my head was, “[DKM bassist] Kenny is going to kill me.” After the set, I went directly backstage to apologize for being a total moron, and Kenny was the first person I saw. He had no idea. After the show we were all getting ready to go out and Kenny walked right up, hugged me, looked me in the eye and asked for a baby shirt for [his daughter] Emma.

Carl Palmer (ELP, Asia)

When: 1970s
Where: Osaka Stadium in Japan
What: We had one of the most terrible rainstorms ever recorded in Japan on the day of the concert. The stage got flooded to the point where we could not carry on, but I was not aware of this because this was all being talked about when I was playing my drum solo. I was the only one on the stage at the time, and the next thing I see is three cars turning up at the back of the stage. Greg [Lake] and Keith [Emerson] get into cars, while I am still playing. The rain is coming down so hard the roof of the stage is starting to look very unsafe, but I kept on playing because it could be my last time playing a drum solo in a monsoon! I came to the end of my drum solo, stood up, said goodbye to about 14,000 people and jumped into my car. The others were already at a restaurant!

Adrian Ost (Powerman 5000)

Where: Grand Rapids, Michigan
What: Halfway through the intro tape, I ran out to the front of the stage to let the fans know we were about to start. They saw me for the first time and started screaming and throwing their hands in the air. I was like, “Hell yes, here we go!” Instead of going around my drums to get into place, I usually jump up on my kick drum, but this time I jumped onto my throne and missed. I tipped the throne over and totally landed on my ass into all my drums. There were 1,500 kids in that room and they all saw it. I didn’t feel like much of a rock star that day.

Tony Thaxton (Motion City Soundtrack)

When: March, 2004
Where: Minneapolis, Minnesota
What: We played an unannounced basement show — a last minute, just for fun kind of thing. Because of the fun atmosphere of a basement show, we decided not to write out a set list, we would just call them out during the show. Well, about halfway through our incredibly sloppy set, I look at our guitarist Josh, and I read his lips say “Cambridge.” I then counted off “Cambridge” and began to play the song … by myself. What I didn’t realize was that Josh said “Capital H,” not “Cambridge.” Realizing that I was the only one playing, I stopped. Everyone laughed, said “Capital H,” and we moved on.

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