Michael Jackson Hologram

You say gimmicks like it’s a bad thing! Sometimes concerts are great when they’re all music accompanied by the occasional colored lights. But other times they’re even better when you add explosions and flashing lasers. The point is that selling tickets is a tough business and you might need a little something extra to get butts in the seats. Below is the best of the best when it comes to crazy stunts pulled off by live performers.

7.) Pyrotechnics

PyrotechnicsThis standby classic can still pack a punch. A well placed fireball can be just what a band needs to liven up the show. Everyone from Ramstein to American idol has used this trick, and for good reason. Since our cavemen days humans have been fascinated with fire. It’s great to get people hyped for your power ballad or 20 minute guitar solo. Of all the entries on this list pyrotechnics is by far the most timeless, and is likely to keep its popularity for years to come.

6.) GWAR

Gwar Group photoRest in peace Oderus Urungus. Death metal held a collective period of mourning when the costumed band’s frontman died in March of this year. These guys are what KISS would have been if they threw a lot more animal blood on the audience. Their stunts have included the dismemberment of a Paris Hilton look alike doll filled with fake intestines and the same thing done later to a doll of the Queen of England. These guys are over the top in all of the best ways. Fans of the band can rejoice in knowing that Urungus’ death will not stop them from performing at this year’s Gwar-B-Q in Virginia on August 16th.

5.) Coldplay’s Balloons

Coldplay Yellow balloonsWho knew that the simple act of putting confetti inside of balloons would be so awe inspiring? We can’t answer that, but know how amazing it is. Those gallons are hands down the best live music stunt thought up in the past twenty years. Coldplay started doing this years ago, and gained some notoriety for it. Every time the band would play their first single, “Yellow” they’d unleash the balloons onto the audience. When they pop yellow confetti would explode out. As basic as it was, the gimmick was perfect for the band, the show, and the song.

4.) Secret Shows

Jack White Third man records vanHave you ever stumbled into some random pub in Scottland only to find out that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke was doing a one night unannounced appearance? Well someone has! However he isn’t the only person to ever do a “secret show.” More recently Krist Novoselic and Dave Ghrol of Nirvana played an unannounced gig with Joan Jett, St. Vincent, Lorde, and others after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn. This tradition combines barebones musical performance with shameless tricker in a fun but honest way. Whether it’s in the street or at a small town bar, this is a fun idea that is done best when the act is über popular.

3.) Holograms


Do you remember where you were when Tupac made his comeback? Because we do! This sci-fi dream became a reality for the first time at a concert in 2012 at Coachella. While that was not technically a hologram, the projection undoubtedly carved a path for the future. For proof of this, look no further than the King of Pop. “MIchael Jackson” made an appearance at the Billboard Awards this past Sunday. While some technophobic critics said the display was in poor taste, there’s no doubting that it was incredible to behold. For fans of legendary acts like Queen, John Lennon, or Bob Marley, holograms provide the opportunity to pay tribute to the artists they love by seeing them in concert even after their passing.

2.) Anything Lady Gaga Has Done

Lady Gaga LollapaloozaIf only we all could pull of wearing a human sized egg the way the Queen Monster can. It’s hard to say if her elaborate sets, and unfathomable costuming are gimmick or simple artistic expression, but either way her concerts are wicked. No top 40 musical talent right now has a stronger reputation for performance. In the modern music scene she is defining what it means to push the envelope while constantly reinventing her persona. Even if the bubblegum feel to her music isn’t your style, Gaga’s wonderfully innovation is apparent every time she takes the stage.

1.) KISS

KISS Coffin Gene SimmonsThere’s nothing more gimmicky than a man pushing seventy in silver lamé armor and face paint. Except for maybe a coffin shaped beer cooler with that man’s image on it. KISS’s name has been on everything from condoms, to Mr. Potato Head. But if collecting the outrageous merchandise isn’t your style, maybe their legendary live shows are. Gene Simmons and friends have rocking and rolling all night for better than 40 years. These crazy kids came out of NYC with a dream, and that dream involved a lot of makeup, and ultra-hooky jams. EVeryone knows at least one KISS song, and that probably has a lot to do with the fact that their live albums, Alive! have sold better than those of any other artist ever. The are pure showmanship on the stage, and their ability to draw a crowd is undeniable. Their flashy concerts are precisely the reason that the KISS ARMY has gone so strong for so long.