Who Are The Loudest Bands Of All Time?

14 March 2018, 12:00

Roger Daltrey of The Who, circa 1970

As The Who's Roger Daltrey admits he's now almost completely deaf, we look at some of the loudest acts in history, as named and shamed by our listeners.


>In 2015, the band's Death Magnetic LP was awarded the dubious honour of being the "loudest album of all time". A technical blog called Production Advice claimed that the album had a Dynamic Range of DR3 - meaning, basically, that the sound stayed the same level throughout, with little space between the big noises and the quieter noises. In comparison, the same band's Black Album from 1991 had a DR of 11. Here's a video that graphically shows the difference between the noisy CD and the same tracks that were dynamically different when issued on the Guitar Hero game.


During a 1984 gig at the Cleveland Variety Theatre, the plaster in the ceiling of the building started to crack and fall onto the crowd below, after the band reached a whopping 130 decibels. Listener Louise Meek saw them in Hull in 1990 and claims: "My ears rang for three days..."

The Who

The legendary band claimed a Guinness World Record after they hit 126dB during a gig at Charlton Athletic's ground The Valley on 31 May 1976. Pete Townshend famously suffers from tinnitus and Roger Daltrey told reporters in 2018: "I advise all you rock-and-roll fans - take your f***ing ear plugs to the gigs. If only we had known when we were young ... we are lip-reading.”


The British dance act managed to top 137 dB in June of 1996 when they played Brixton Academy on their Leftism tour. Another instance of plaster literally falling from the ceiling.


Foo Fighters

At a gig in New Zealand on 13 December 2011, the Foos managed to gain a reading on the GeoNet seismograph. GeoNet's website claims: "The concert vibrations were recorded as a semi continuous harmonic signal with a peak osculation of 3Hz,  ie the ground was shaking 3 times per second in a nice rhythmic motion." MOSHPIT! Listener Vicky Mackenzie says the infamous Roundhouse show was pretty raucous, too.

My Bloody Valentine

MBV are so well known for their loud, vibrating music that they actually hand out earplugs as you go in to watch their shows. The climax is the "holocaust" section of You Made Me Realise, 20-minutes of unrelenting noise that batters the audience into submission. Ouch. Listener Paul White claimed they were even loud at the normally sedate Festival No 6 in Wales. "Easily the loudest band on planet earth," says Scott Fellows.

The Prodigy

Zuza O'Brien nominated The Prodigy at The Warehouse Project in Manchester. "Painful," she says, simply. Meanwhile, Mandy Winter claims that "Every time I've seen them, I could feel the bass in my chest and stomach, I could hardly breathe!"