Three hip hop shows that ended in riots
(Credit: N.W.A.)


Three hip hop shows that ended in riots

Watching live music can sometimes be a tetchy thing to do. Not only is there a lot of jostling for position, a lot of close contact dancing and a serious amount of giddy abandon, but usually they’re all fuelled with alcohol and excitement in what is a very potent cocktail.

It’s easy to see how the odd audience explosion can occur, and it’s not just bands who have had a bad day at the office who can feel the wrath of a crowd turned mob. Sometimes being a party-starting fire-breathing rock band can incite a riot just as easily, just ask The Rolling Stones.

We’ve got some huge names in music that have all felt the growing tempest of an angry crowd and make up our list of shows that have ended in riots. While not all of the artists mentioned can have the blame for inciting the mob squarely laid at their feet, some of them certainly had a hand in turning a free-loving concert into a rage-filled nightmare.

Below, we’re taking a look back at three times that hip hop shows erupted into riots. To be crystal clear, given the still tense and upsetting situation at Astroworld, we will not be including any Travis Scott scenarios.

Hip hop shows that ended in riots:

N.W.A. in Detroit (1989)

When N.W.A., one of the most incendiary groups to have ever existed, were due to perform at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit the tensions between the band and the local police was already at a fever pitch. The group, which included Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E and MC Ren, had just released their protest song ‘F*** tha Police’ and the furore around the song was growing each day.

Local police prohibited the song being performed in Detroit, suggesting doing so would incite a riot. As one might imagine, N.W.A. were never going to give in to those demands and performed the song anyway. The crowd bounced and swelled with heavy intensity, and as a ‘gun’ went off (it was actually a firecracker), the police shut the venue down and arrested the group as soon as they arrived back at the hotel.

Straight Outta Compton, the band’s biopic, depicts the moment it all transpired with a dose of Hollywood glean, but the majority of facts are right. The film’s director, F. Gary Gray, told Buzzfeed: “It’s a pivotal moment because it’s one of the many moments where they stood up, and they had the courage to say, ‘Freedom of speech applies to everyone in America, and we are not going to take this abuse. We’re just not going to do it.'”

Migos in Albany (2015)

For a comparatively short while, Migos were the hottest thing in hip hop, managing to accurately toe the line of the mainstream while still putting out club-ready hits for the masses. However, one night in Albany, New York back in 2015 will remain a black mark on their career.

The March show erupted in violence when the trio were late to the stage and tempers grew impossible to curtail. The trio were sued for the incident with the report stating that concertgoers were “stabbed, robbed, beaten, severely harmed and injured as the defendants continued to incite a select group of individuals to continue the onslaught of attacks, assaults and destruction of the premises.”

The group were scheduled to appear at 9pm but took another three hours to reach the spotlight, by which time things were impossible to quieten down, not that they tried. According to reports, “Despite the severity of the incident the defendants were seen laughing and egging the crowd on as metal gates were ripped from the ground and thrown into the crowd.”

Run DMC, LL Cool J and Whodini in Long Beach (1986)

One of the more famous shows that ended in riots was the iconic 1986 performance from Run DMC, LL Cool J, Whodini and others in Long Beach, California. The 14,000 seat Long Beach Arena was the perfect place for a new and emerging style of music to find its footing. With Run DMC having already performed at the venue without incident, it seemed a safe enough space for the rest of the crew to join them.

Unlike the previous two incidents, there seems to be no real reason as to why violence erupted at the show, though reports suggest it began immediately. ″There are a bunch of people going crazy.″ said fire dispatcher Craig Beck. ″During the concert there were stabbings and riots,″ he said. ″Shots were fired in front and at the rear of the arena.″

It was reported that 39 people suffered injuries during the violence. ″Organized gangs readily identifiable by articles of clothing began roaming the floor and halls, beating anyone they chose to beat,″ Burgess said. Security guards who searched concertgoers on their way in confiscated a number of weapons. ″But the crowd made its own weapons in the form of chairs and other pieces of furniture which was broken and then used to beat people.″