Loudest band in the world
The loudest band in the world is a subject of some dispute in musical circles. Many bands have claimed to be the loudest, measuring this in various ways including with decibel meters at concerts and by engineering analysis of the CDs on which their albums are published.
During the recording of Outsideinside by Blue Cheer, the band were ejected from the recording studio for being too loud, and recorded some of the tracks in a warehouse at Pier 57 on the Hudson River, New York City. The performance was so loud that people on boats at 14 kilometers away complained that they could hear the noise. Drummer Paul Whaley hit the drums so hard he had to wear golf gloves.
Deep Purple held the record and were recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the "globe's loudest band" when in a concert at the London Rainbow Theatre their sound reached 117 dB. Three of their audience members were rendered unconscious.
1984 and 1994
The heavy metal band Manowar is one claimant of the title of "loudest band in the world", citing a measurement of 129.5 dB in 1994 in Hanover. However, The Guinness Book of World Records listed Manowar as the record holder for the loudest musical performance for an earlier performance in 1984. Guinness does not recognize Manowar's later claim, because it no longer includes a category of loudest band, reportedly because it does not want to encourage hearing damage.
In 1986, an article by Scott Cohen was published in the February issue of Spin entitled "Motörhead is the Loudest Band on Earth". In this article, Cohen mentions an undated concert in which the Cleveland Variety Theater was damaged when the band Motörhead reached a reported decibel level of 130. Cohen reported that this was 10 decibels louder than the record set by The Who.
Pioneering English House/Electronica band Leftfield became known for the volume of its live shows on the tour to support their debut album Leftism. In June 1996, while the group was playing at Brixton Academy, the sound system caused dust and plaster to fall from the roof. Sound volume was 137 dB.
Hanson set a record for the loudest crowd at a concert, at an eardrum-obliterating 140 decibels (14 decibels louder than previous record-holders The Who). In 2005, Hanson broke Australia's record for loudest concert.
British punk band Gallows allegedly broke Manowar's next to last record for loudest band in the world, claiming to have achieved 132.5 dB; however, this record was claimed in an isolated studio environment as opposed to live.
On July 15, 2009, in Ottawa, Canada, the band Kiss achieved a SPL of 136 dB measured during their live performance (not the sound check). After noise complaints from neighbors in the area, the band was forced to turn the volume down.
On December 13, 2011 when the Foo Fighters played in New Zealand, their concert was recorded on the GeoNet seismograph for the duration of their 2½ hour set (although the weight of the fans dancing was a major contributing factor to this) . This is not the only instance of the Foo Fighters playing at extreme volumes; their performance at Tennent's Vital 2012 in Northern Ireland drew noise complaints from up to twelve miles away.
The notion of "loudness equals greatness" pervades rock music to the extent that it has been satirized. In the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, the band is presented by the fictional filmmaker Marty di Bergi, as "one of England's loudest bands". One popular joke from the film features Nigel Tufnel displaying the band's amplifiers which are calibrated up to 11, instead of up to 10, allowing them to go "one louder". As a consequence of this, real bands and musicians started buying equipment whose knobs went up to 11, or even higher, with Eddie Van Halen reputedly being the first to do so. Marshall, the company that provided amplifiers for the film that the custom marked knobs were applied to, now sells amplifiers such as its JCM900 (first sold in 1990) whose knobs are marked from 0 to 20.
The opening track of Manowar's album Sign of the Hammer is titled "All Men Play on Ten", alluding to the idea of loudness; Manowar themselves would go on to set the record for loudest SPL at a live concert, more than once (see below). It may also allude to the fact that they had just signed to Ten Records, their new record label.
Another well-known parody is the fictional band Disaster Area (appearing in Douglas Adams's The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), whose concerts can literally devastate entire planets. The audience listens from a specially-constructed concrete bunker some thirty miles from the stage, and the band plays its instruments by remote control from an even greater distance.
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