The Most Legendary Punk Shows of All Time


Iggy Pop performing live

Iggy Pop has one of the most legendary punk shows of all time – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Nasty Little Man

Punk music is best experienced live in concert, not through speakers. Well, I do enjoy listening to punk music at home, but going to a true punk show is a totally different experience. If you’re never experienced a full-fledged punk show in all its glory, then the good news is that you can watch some of these prized gigs. So, what are the most legendary punk shows of all time?

Find a collection of absolutely epic punk shows below, starting in the 1960s. These gigs are truly original and stand alone. Moreover, these are the pioneers of the punk rock genre, and these shows were groundbreaking at the time.

Iggy and the Stooges – Michigan, their communal State Street house – October of 1967

It all started on Halloween night back in 1967. Iggy and the Stooges played their first concert at a Halloween party in Michigan. What’s more, the band was very experimental and had a high-octane, out-of-control style of playing that helped birth the punk (or proto-punk) movement.

Talking Heads – New York City, CBGB – June of 1975

Talking Heads debuted as the opening act for the Ramones at CBGB in 1975. What a cool first gig, right? Both Talking Heads and the Ramones put on incredible performances, and the gig is legendary. Boy, I wish CBGB were still around.

The Clash – London, Rainbow Theatre – May of 1977

No, we’re not leaving punk from the U.K. off this list. After all, you can’t talk about great punk shows without talking about The Clash. Early in the movement, The Clash performed in London at the Rainbow Theatre. The show got so wild that attendees ripped up the venue’s seats and threw them onstage. Now, that’s punk.

Sex Pistols – London, River Thames Jubilee Boat Cruise – June of 1977

Sex Pistols were actually banned by the GLC from performing at London venues. But, that didn’t stop them from spreading their music. The group performed a show on the River Thames in 1977, but the police did break up the gig. The cops even arrested Richard Branson and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.

Blondie – Asbury Park, Convention Hall – July of 1979

Blondie were getting super hot in the late-1970s, and they were ready to show off their magic in Asbury Park at the end of the decade. They played a range of well-known songs, such as “Heart of Glass” and “Hanging on the Telephone,” and this gig truly captured Blondie in their purest and strongest form.

Bad Brains – New York City, CBGB – December of 1982

Bad Brains rocked a short residency at CBGBs over the Christmas holiday in 1982, and they absolutely tore it up. The group, with frontman H.R. at the helm, were in top form at this point. You can watch this show on the band’s “Live at CBGB 1982” live album and DVD.

Bad Religion – Hollywood, The Palladium – November of 2004

Bad Religion famously played the Palladium in Hollywood, California, on Nov. 21 and 22, 2004. The double shows were explosive and are beyond legendary in punk circles. What’s more, the band’s “Live at the Palladium” live concert DVD captures that madness.

Black Flag – San Francisco, The Stone Nightclub – August of 1984

Black Flag‘s first live recording arrived in December of 1984, and it featured footage from the band’s fiery gig at The Stone Nightclub in San Francisco, California, in August of that same year. The shows mainly had the band performing songs from their “My War” and “Slip It In” albums. This was a monster of a show.

There you have it. A handful of punk shows that I totally wish I had experienced. Thankfully, at least a good portion of them were captured on film. Check out 10 punk bands that fans don’t want to admit are punk here.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Alternative, Features, Music, Rock