Ever since the rise of rock and roll, some of the best underground music has also been some of the most shocking when performed live. In fact, many of the most distinctive underground music performers became true pop stars on the strength of their shocking live performances.
From Alice Cooper to Insane Clown Posse, the overall world of pop has been full of some jaw-dropping stage shows. Here are some of the most outrageous performers who have come out of underground music worlds.
Alice Cooper: Cooper was one of the original shock-rockers, whose wild ways would go on to influence underground music followers as diverse as metal bands and horror rap acts like Insane Clown Posse. Cooper’s been hanged onstage, danced with monsters, and been tormented by freaky, sexy nurses. And he’s still up to it in his 60s!
Marilyn Manson: Though he started in underground music scenes, Manson gained total fame — and infamy — based on his shows. Live Manson concerts involve simulated nudity, profanity galore, and even subverted fascist imagery. Although it provokes knee-jerk reactions, critical thinking reveals deeper meaning behind the shock.
Rammstein: This German underground music favorite doesn’t try to apply too much intellectualism to its live show, but it still aims to shock. Their performance fascinations are particularly sexual, full of simulated sodomy and other taboo perversions.
When they’re not freaking out the squares with that, they’re lighting their instruments on fire, soaking themselves in fake blood, or crowd-surfing in inflatable rafts.
Esham: This Detroit rapper is one of the founders of horror rap, though he doesn’t get much credit for this outside of the area’s underground music circles. Esham would later be cited as a major influence by later acts like Insane Clown Posse. His own brand of horror rap often blended rock beats with rhymes.
At the same time, he also performed his horror rap with a rock and roll type stage show. For much of his early career in underground music, he flirted openly with Satanic imagery, like so many horror rap artists would do after him. At the time, though, the mere existence of horror rap was shocking, as was Esham’s favored unabashedly psychedelic onstage atmosphere and lyrical content.
Insane Clown Posse: Following in Esham’s footsteps, Insane Clown Posse took up horror rap ideas with glee. Following with their favored album theme of the “Dark Carnival” mythology, Insane Clown Posse shows have featured murderous clowns, freak shows, and, usually, oceans of Faygo soda. It gets sprayed, shot from waterguns, poured from buckets, or just drop-kicked, bottle and all.