We’re having Another Secret Thing happening this Thursday at The Horseshoe Tavern. We’ve got a few spots left on the guest list, so if you haven’t won your way in yet now is your chance to enter to see a big band play a small club!
And since we’re on the topic of secret shows, here are some pretty famous ones…
Manhattan Rooftop, 1968
Shouting “Hello New York! New York, wake up you fuckers! Free music! New songs! Free love!”, Jefferson Airplane took over a Manhattan rooftop in Midtown to perform a loud, enthusiastic set filmed by Jean-Luc Godard and D.A. Pennebaker for an unfinished film One American Movie. New Yorkers were relatively unfazed and it wasn’t long until police were on scene to shut it down.
Rooftop, 3 Savile Row, 1969
Fittingly this final public performance by the Beatles became an historical trendsetter. One of the first secret shows by a hugely popular band the rooftop of the Apple Headquarters in Central London became the scene of 9 takes of 5 separate songs before police asked them to turn it down a notch worrying about noise and traffic. It was a bit of a confusion for locals before word got around what was actually happening and people poured out of buildings and onto neighboring rooftops. John Lennon was reported as finishing the set with “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and I hope we passed the audition.”
The Sex Pistols
River Thames, 1977
In 1977 The Queen celebrated her silver jubilee. An event feted across all of Britain. For the Sex Pistols this seemed like the perfect opportunity to shake up the establishment. A boat was hired and the band’s set list included banned songs “God Save The Queen” and “Anarchy in the UK.” Unfortunately plenty of booze, drugs and loud music had the captain radioing for help. Arrests were made, a beating of the bands manager took place and the Sex Pistols were further attacked after media and pundits got their hands on the story.
The Rolling Stones
El Mocambo, 1977
Mick Jagger and his manager Peter Rudge had been looking all over continent for a club to record their new live album. They wanted their loyal fans to be there but they also wanted it to be a secret as to not be mobbed by thousands. It was a chance afternoon at the Windsor Arms, where Duff Chapman (CHUM FM) took a leap of faith and had his business card sent over to a table Jagger and Rudge happened to be dining at. They were hooked and the El Mocambo was the chosen location.
Booker Dave “Blue” Bluestein had no problem figuring out a way to keep it secret. He booked the two days under the guise of April Wine being the talent those evenings and added another band called The Cockroaches and contest titled ” What would you do to see the Rolling Stones live?” brought in the diehard fans. Three hundred winners were to meet at the radio station where TTC buses then took them to their surprise.
LA Liquor Store, 1987
As Bono was once quoted as saying ” it’s not the first time we have ripped off the Beatles,” they decided to pay homage to the greats by performing their own rooftop gig. Prior to the move, the store had been reinforced to be able to handle the performance and a backup generator appeared so it wasn’t as impromptu at first glance. Even so the police were on site ready to close it down while the world’s biggest music band played “Where The Streets Have No Name” with footage used as their official music video. The expected crowds never showed, only 1,ooo people were in attendance and the band’s plan to cripple LA’s street fell flat.
The Forum, 1998
Joining Hole for a mystery concert at The Forum in London, front man Robert Smith put on quite the spectacle. 400 Miller Genuine Draft Blind Date winners were flown in from the US to see Goth master extraordinaire. Two encores and 21 songs later surprised guests talked about how brilliant the performance was and how its easy to see why The Cure is one of the greatest around.
The White Stripes
Eastview Bowling Alley, Saskatoon, 2007
It’s not unusual for Jack and Meg White to drop by smaller locations for surprise performances for fans and for 15 minutes in a small Saskatoon Bowling Alley, 200 hundred fans were treated to an up close and personal mini set of songs. To finish the performance Jack slung a ball down the lane with his guitar strapped across his back before they headed off to their bigger, official concert at the TCU center.
House of Vans, 2014
Playing under a rather band appropriate pseudonym The Holy Shits the Foo Fighters surprised fans with a free show at London’s House of Vans. An early day announced had 750 lucky people snag the coveted tickets and while they were waiting in line lead member Dave Grohl popped his head out of the building to check the situation. Impressed by the hundreds of ticketless fans who were camped out in hopes of at least seeing a glimpse of their favorites, Grohl had a chat with management and made many more dreams come true by inviting all those fans into the gig as well. Two and a half hours later all the hits were played, encores were performed and swag bags received.
924 Gilman, 2015
For years Green Day had been banned from performing at 924 Gilman, a small DIY punk club they had started out at. The ban was because they had signed with a big production company and pretty much shunned all that the punk community stood for. However in 2015 a secret show benefiting a local DIY publishing company and other local shops and residents that had lost everything to a devastating fire welcomed the band back with open arms, the ban seemingly lifted. They performed 21 songs, spanning their entire career.