Van Halen turned a few heads earlier this year when announcing that Kool and the Gang would be opening for them on their upcoming tour. While they’re a great way to usher in the party rock vibe of classic VH, we’d imagine a lot of Halen fans will be doing their own pre-gaming out in the parking lot. That ushered in the debate of what some of the oddest concert bills we’ve seen have been. While we’re not counting one-off festivals, there have been some pretty odd bills going on over the years. Without further ado and in no particular order, here’s some of the odder ones we’ve seen:
While Megadeth and Anthrax have played together on numerous tours (including some show in the Bronx this past Fall), it’s the tour’s co-headliners that make this an unusual package. In the old days, the thrash metal scene never really got along with the L.A hair metal scene. So to see one of the Big 4 touring with the kings of the L.A. Strip scene was quite a sight to see. Early into the tour, though, Anthrax dropped off the tour under less than good terms.
It’s still somewhat hard to believe that the almighty Slayer actually opened for the shock rock/hair metal group W.A.S.P. The tour, which occurred shortly after the making of Reign In Blood, is probably well known by Slayer trivia nerds because it marked the first time drummer Dave Lombardo quit the band (though he rejoined the group later that year prior to leaving again for an extended time). “They had just done [Inside the] Electric Circus, and we had just done Reign in Blood, so they were getting their ass handed to them every night. I liked WASP before that record, though. I remember getting drunk with [WASP guitarist] Chris Holmes—he’d tell the same story every five minutes,” Kerry King recalled about the tour in Decibel Magazine’s “Slayer Oral History” piece.
This tour was doomed from the get-go. First, anti-tobacco activists protested the tour, then music fans did. Would any self-respecting music fan want to see both Iggy Pop and 4 Non-Blondes play alongside Sevendust and the Bloodhound Gang? Answer? No. I remember seeing the show in Philly (mainly to see Sevendust), and it being moved from a legitimate venue to a much-smaller outdoor club where cheesy cover bands usually played. I also remember (sarcastically) stating when asked how the show was the next day that Iggy Pop went to stage dive and jumped over the crowd.
Nowadays, Metallica touring with bands like Soundgarden, The Ramones and Rancid doesn’t sound as odd. And the Lollapalooza festival was always known for created diverse lineups. However, many fans were shocked when Metallica (who were in full Load mode at the time) were brought on as headliners of the predominately alt rock festival in 1996. That year’s festival also saw bands like Rage Against The Machine, Cheap Trick, the Wu Tang Clan and even Devo perform on select dates. To many fans, though, Metallica’s inclusion and the “machoness” they supposedly represented went against what the festival stood. And Jane’s Addiction singer/ festival founder Pery Farrell agreed, quitting Lollapalooza the following year in protest.
This triple bill was definitely memorable to anyone that was lucky enough to get to see it. And at that point in time, it made sense. Touring behind 1989’s Nothingface, Voivod’s progressive/thrash sound was pretty unidentifiable, so to have Soundgarden’s stoner/grunge and Faith No More’s unidentifiable funk/thrash opening for them made sense. Who would’ve known that both of Voivod’s openers would go on to very much define the alternative rock generation of the decade that followed. This was another show that one of us got to see, at now-defunct Trenton NJ club City Gardens. By the time Chris Cornell shimmied out upside down on a steel beam and dropped into the crowd to be passed back onto the stage during “Loud Love,” everyone knew something pretty awesome was happening.
The 1999 tour was a way for Marilyn Mason to tour behind Mechanical Animals and Courtney Love’s Hole to tour behind Celebrity Skin. The big draw behind the tour, though, was seeing the over-the-top Love and Manson sharing the same stage. However, the clash of personalities proved to be too much, as Hole dropped off the bill after only nine dates after Love was tired of Manson making jabs at her from the stage.