Legendary Rock and Metal Stage Moves
Why do we go to concerts? To hear our favorite songs live, to feel the crowd vibe, and to see a great show. Lighting and decorations are of course very important for the show. But the way the musicians act on stage matters even more.
Our idols work hard to entertain us. They even invented special stage moves that became their signature stunts. Here is a list of the most famous signature rock and metal stage moves.
Pete Townshend is famous not only for being the frontman of the iconic band The Who and the founder of the rock opera genre but also for his wild performances.
Smashing guitars at concerts became Townshend’s signature move, which Jimi Hendrix later borrowed. But Pete’s other move, The Windmill, became legendary. Perhaps among rock-type moves, it is the most famous one.
It looks like this: Townshend while playing the guitar swings his hand widely in a circle and hits the strings.
This move appeared thanks to The Rolling Stones. Once Pete saw Keith Richards warming up, swinging his arms hard. Townshend liked this move and made it part of his stage performance.
Originally this gesture was a sacred symbol. Ancient Romans believed that the index finger is connected with Jupiter — the god of the sky, lightning, and thunder, and the little finger is connected with Mercury — the god of commerce and thieves, who also escorted the souls of the dead to the underworld. By dint of what is now called the Devil Horns, people asked the gods for protection and help so that the soul of their loved one would safely reach the kingdom of the dead.
In Europe and Asia, this gesture was considered as a protection against evil for many centuries. It was used as an analog of spitting over the shoulder, to protect against the evil eye and witches. In Italy people showed the Devil Horns when they saw a hearse, otherwise, there would be trouble they believed.
It was thanks to the superstitious Italians that this gesture became part of musical culture.
The Devil Horns were popularized by Black Sabbath and Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Although Dio was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, his ancestors were Italian immigrants. It was Ronnie’s grandmother, a devout Catholic, who taught him this gesture.
This gesture was used by other musicians, but it was thanks to Dio that the Devil Horns became the heavy metal symbol.
The Duck Walk has long been a stage show classic. It is not surprising — after all, the great Chuck Berry invented it.
Chuck invented the Duck Walk as a child when he minced under the table for a ball. He always made his parents laugh with this trick.
As an adult, Berry often shook his head as he walked like a duck. And one day he decided to do the same on stage, with a guitar in his hands.
Chuck first showed the Duck Walk to the public in 1956 at a concert in New York. The audience liked this stage stunt, and Chuck repeated it over and over again.
Since then, the Duck Walk has become very popular and now many guitarists use it as an element of their stage performances. The most famous follower of Duck Walk is Angus Young, the AC/DC lead guitarist.
The Bass Rifle is a legendary stage move from also legendary Steve Harris. For 45 years he has been the leader of the greatest band in heavy metal history, Iron Maiden.
Harris is famous as a brilliant bass player. His perfect technique and signature Bass Rifle always delight fans at concerts. It’s funny to watch the audience beat in ecstasy when Steve shoots them with his Fender Precision.
Previously, musicians were only on stage, and the audience was only in the auditorium, and they never mixed.
The situation changed in the 1960s thanks to Iggy Pop. It was this restless punk star who had the idea to jump from the stage into the crowd, which caught him and passed him overhead.
Today crowd surfing no longer looks like something crazy, although it was a novelty for the 1960s. A decade later, the situation was changed drastically, first by punk rock, and then by metal. People began to see crowd surfing not as something unusual, but as an element of performance. And in the 1990s it turned into a normal thing and a regular attribute of a good show.
If the show looked less like a rock concert and more like a martial artists’ performance, it was Van Halen’s show.
And all thanks to vocalist David Lee Roth, who loved to display his skills. And we must admit that he had something to brag about because Diamond Dave studied martial arts since he was 12. He even has his dojo in his house. And one day he went on stage with a real sword.
But his stunt was the karate kicks when Dave raised his leg high as if kicking an invisible enemy. Needless to say, it added a special expressiveness to the band’s performances. Although the most amazing stunt was still his high jump and split in the air. Well, we can only envy his physical form.
Ginger hair, bandana on the head, and the Snake Dance have become the signature style elements of Guns N ‘Roses frontman Axl Rose, one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time.
The Snake Dance looks like this: Axl sways the lower part of his body while holding the microphone stand or raising his arms.
Even though Axl is now not so slim and graceful as 30 years ago, he still performs the Snake Dance.
The heavy metal band Pantera’s moves on stage were as furious as their music. But vocalist Philip Anselmo stood out, of course. Nobody stomped on the stage the way he did.
Fans even nicknamed him Philip Stompselmo and the King of the Heavy Metal Jump. Although such fearlessness cost Phil his health — in 1994 Anselmo made a bad jump during a concert and suffered a back injury.
Some stage moves are so associated with a particular musician that they become his nickname. This happened with Frank “The Chop” Mullen from the death metal band Suffocation.
The Death Chop was not so difficult to make, this move was more for fans amusing. Frank with a grin on his face and a protruding tongue moves his hand super-quickly in a knife manner to the beat of the music. The fans liked this stunt so much that it immediately went viral and at the concerts, you could see the whole crowd in front of the stage “chopping” together with Frank.
The death metal band Cannibal Corpse vocalist, George Fisher, stands out for his extremely low growl, long screaming and his signature headbang. The fans also try to copy the last stunt, although in their performance it does not look so cool.
George once admitted that it was Windmill Headbang that made his neck so thick. He does not go to the gym and this is the only exercise that he does.
In this video of Loudwire, you can see how all this signature moves look on stage.