We need to get rid of this macho bullshit attitude that dangerously loud gigs are a good thing

MBV was the first gig I went to where earplugs were handed out for free and there were signs up advising people to use them. When they walked on stage and Shields gave his guitar a strum while putting it on, that was the only uncomfortable moment because of the sudden jump from silence to huge sound. Once they were going I found it alright without earplugs for the most part.

There can be a really satisfying thing about standing in a physical wave of sound, but it’s dependant on the type of music.

Nightclubs are far worse than any gigs I’ve been to for the sound being uncomfortable, maybe that’s due to the type of music or the room/sound systems used being different than gig venues.

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Yeah I’ve definitely seen it. Not so much here (a bit though) as Twitter etc.

Not enough nuance is given in this argument to harmonic distortion - which is actually the thing that damages your ears more than volume

ie you can have high volume gigs through a great PA with minimal distortion and be less damaged than lower volume gigs through a weak PA that is overcooked & distorts

I have been to some club nights where the kick & bass are so physical it feels like you’ve been in a fight but with no ear damage afterwards cos the club has heavily invested in their most important asset - a great soundsystem

But also the opposite is true and to see a band overworking a crappy PA in a tiny venue is horrendous for the ears

Honestly though, more people do more damage to their ears through wearing shitty earbuds 24/7 than loud gigs once every few weeks

Quality Earplugs & good headphones are two of life’s essentials


i found the Swans gig the lethal combination of incredibly loud and quite boring.

i went to see them touring The Seer on the basis that i really liked My Father Will Guide Me… but a 2 hour set consisting of 6 tracks was a challenge to stand through

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Being at a gig that’s too loud feels unpleasant, and the only thing you can do about it is leave and waste the money you spent on it. If my headphones are too loud I can just turn them down.


Saw them on To Be Kind tour - big fan of The Seer and of To Be Kind, so was very happy. Had also read a couple of reviews so knew what I was getting into before buying the tickets

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Yeah true

But even at lower volumes poor quality earphones can damage your hearing through distortion

Point being that it isn’t just about sound pressure, it’s about sound quality too

Harmonic distortion is interesting, I’ve never heard of it before!

I absolutely gave myself hearing damage when working my first job with cheap in-ear earphones. I think the album that set of the tinnitus was actually ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ ffs.

I think it’s a good point, but you don’t get a choice of how good the sound quality at a gig is and presumably the louder it is, the more likely it is to cause damage, even if a regular volume gig with poor sound quality is worse than a loud gig with good sound quality


In the old days every amplifier would have a THD rating (total harmonic distortion) given at a particular output

I did a live sound course once many, many years ago and the crew running it was like ’if your PA speakers are rated at 500w then you need a power amplifier that will deliver 800w or more so that you don’t even need to push it into the yellow, let alone the red to power your speakers. If you drive it too hard everything will distort and sound horrible and kill everyone’s ears’

Up until then I had taken it for granted that 500w speakers needed a 500w amp otherwise you’d blow your speakers. I was very very wrong

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As someone with constant tinnitus that means I can’t really ever enjoy peace and quiet, totally agree.


Loudest gig I’ve ever been to was Black Dice at Cargo back in the day. Have seen Sunn O)))), Mogwai, Lightning Bolt etc but I’ve never been to a gig that loud. Was amazing.

If enjoying loud gigs is wrong I don’t wanna be right.

I don’t know how scientific this is but I’ve always been under the impression that low frequencies are less harmful, while at the same time giving you the sensation of being really loud through physical vibrations as much as anything else. Loud treble is horrific though.

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Yup! I’ve got off really lucky with this but there’s not really any reason for gigs to be ear destroyingly loud. I looove a loud loud gig where you can physically frel the weight of the sound, but it’s never been worth the potential permanent tinnitus. Know loads of people who have totally ducked their hearing by the time they were in their early 30s, and it’s totally unnecessary

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I don’t really know the nuances of what @BodyInTheThames is saying about having ha. Good sound system to deal with high volume, but either way it would be great to have some sort of standards to protect people’s hearing.

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Loud just because you want to be tough then yeah, get in the bin. If it’s part of what you’re doing then fair play - people can still choose to watch. I don’t think that loudness equates to macho bullshit all the time but do agree i’ve seen too many bands who are just loud and horrible.

It can be hilarious to see though - remember playing one gig with Hey Colossus upstairs at that vice pub in london and they had cleared the room after about 20 minutes if that…one by one people filtered away leaving about 5 folks by the end.

The loudest gig i ever went to was The Warlocks at Glasgow ABC2. Only about 30 people there. I have mild tinnitus and i think this gig might be the culprit.

It’s interesting that a lot of the anecdotes of loudest / most unpleasantly loud gigs here centre on smaller bands in smaller venues who are presumably doing it out of ignorance or wanting to make a big impression. Whereas the famously loud bands playing in more appropriate venues seem on the whole to have worked out fine.

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Mr Swords himself has fairly severe tinnitus (from what I’ve read) which is probably why that stall was there.

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