LOUDEST Concert and Tinnitus

This is a two part question.

1. What is the loudest concert (or event) that you have attended?

2. How long have you had tinnitus, is it getting better or worse and how are you dealing with it?

Personally, the loudest concert was UB40 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Loudest event was drag racing at SIR (Seattle International Raceway) which was like sticking your head in a jet engine.

Regarding tinnitus. Over the past year or so I have noticed a constant high pitched "sound" in my ears. Mostly the left ear. At this point I don't actually know if it is constant or whether I just forget about it sometimes. I know use a white noise box when I go to sleep. Otherwise I tend to fixate on the ringing.

Post removed 
Post removed 
Post removed 

Hard to say which concert was the loudest. There was an Emerson Lake & Palmer concert that actually hurt all the while I was there. A Yes concert at the Bowl that had me covering my ears (I was about 2/3 back from the stage) and a Rage Against the Machine concert at the Universal Ampitheater that literally shook the whole place (the upper seating was moving so much and I could feel my heartbeat change its pace to match the beat...scary). 

A result of all this is I have a rather faint case of tinnitus that's comes and goes but it's so faint that I can tune it out at will and/or ignore it. Writing this made me aware of it again. No more concerts for me as anything louder than what I listen to at my place instantly hurts. If I had my druthers....

All the best,

Memories fade, but I tend to remember the loudness of concerts by the amount of days afterwards where my ears continued to ring. I also have to say that volume level varied a lot as to where I was sitting...or standing.

Anyway --

Led Zeppelin at the Shrine Exposition Hall (or was it the Rose Palace?).

Blind Faith at the same locale.

Whole bunches of bands at the Whiskey. They liked it loud at that joint.



The Who. I always wore earplugs to rock concerts even though by buddies often chided me for it. (They're half-deaf now, or worse.)  But the earplugs weren't sufficient with the Who, so I actually had to walk out and miss the show. Not a joke.

Eric Clapton at Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta for the Journeyman tour. I noticed my ears rang for weeks. My seat was about 26 rows and I felt I was getting direct sound and tons of reflection off the roof. Like a beam.

I have slight tinnitus but able to ignore it most of the time. I do sleep with white noise which mitigates it at night.

fortunately as as a young adult I began wearing ear protection to concerts. 

Grenade practice at basic training, I dropped one and my ears rang for the next decade.


Hot Tuna at Rutgers University in NJ. I sat with my right ear up against their wall of speakers and that ear has never recovered. I sometimes have tinnitus but luckily it’s not too bad. 

SEPT. 81, BOSTON, THE KINKS. My seats were at the right side of the stage next to the amps.My ears rand for almost a week. Never sat that close to the stage again.

From my vantage point, during a guitar solo.I clearly saw RAY DAVIES go back stage to a small table and stick his face in something white which was still all over his nostrils as he came back on stage. One of the most energetic shows ever.



No, it’s not a joke.

I still remember a nightmarish evening spent listening to an early Pink Floyd tribute band in a fairly small pub (bar).

They  were good but the sound seemed to be bouncing off the walls stupidly loud and I should have walked out, but I didn’t as I was the one driving that night.

So instead I put some scrunched up tissue paper in my ears and tried to find the quietest area in a very loud room.

That did help.

Thank God I remembered .

What’s the point of being an audiophile if you don’t protect your hearing?

I was at one 3 weeks ago and measured 110 dB(A) with an iPhone.
The friends had 114 and 115 dB with their Apple Watches.

They hand palmed their foreheads, when I stuffed in some hearing protectors.


OzzFest 97. My ears rang for a week afterwards. 

I had a pit ticket so I was right by the stage for most of the day with the exception of Pantera. I let a buddy use my ticket when they were on and I was on the lawn dodging bodies from the crowd surfing and mosh pits. 

Guns & Roses- a very long ago.They were 1/2 way through November Rain before I even realized what song it was.

I’ve been to hundreds of rock concerts, and they were by far the loudest.



"They were 1/2 way through November Rain before I even realized what song it was."

I had a similar experience with almost every song at a Bob Dylan concert, but it had nothing to do with the loudness.

AC/DC 1980 "Back In Black" North American Tour

Landover, MD USA (Capital Center) 

Way Too Loud, 3rd row.  Ears rang for weeks.

“The Crystal Ship” Doors tribute band many years ago. Only concert that had prolonged negative effects on my ears.

More recently, The big screen at M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens play routinely shows db levels above 120, which is not a good thing.  Earplugs needed. 

Post removed 

The Who. I sat about 3 or 4 rows back from the stage on the floor off to the side. A huge horn speaker was hanging off to the left side of me, close to my ears. My ears rang for almost a week. After that, I always brought ear plugs with me to concerts. At 70, my hearing is shot, everything sounds muffled now.

1968.  The Village Theater on 2nd Ave, later known as The Fillmore East.  Canned Heat opened, and they were deafening.  In the back row of the balcony! My ears rang for the better part of a week.  After the Heat, Cream played their set, maybe louder, but musically more rewarding. The ‘Spoonful’ that show was much better than the one on Wheels Of Fire.  In 1969 I heard Hendrix at Hunter College Auditorium.  The opening act was Soft Machine, whose music I hated AND which was WAY TOO LOUD.  Many others, but those stand out.  My tinnitus is constant, more in the left ear, and it definitely detracts from my appreciation of sound quality.

My Bloody Valentine. Roseland Ballroom, NYC. 2008. 
I couldn’t believe sound reproduction could attain that level. I had been to very loud shows in the past; this was at the level of an air-show.

My Tinnitus is really just from years of headphone use. 

Deep Purple, circa 1976, was the first time I recall that the volume deafened me for a week.

Nowadays, I always wear ear plugs to concerts.  Still, I’ve had to leave a few shows that were still too loud.  Dangerous to my hearing and, frankly, not fun, no matter who’s playing.

Some of the shows I’ve had to leave recently…Steve Morse Band; Hot Tuna; Dixie Dregs; Robbin Ford; Greensky Bluegrass.  I hid in the bathroom during the last half of a John Hyatt show a few years back…I would have left but he’s a favorite of my wife and she stayed for every note.

Many bands I won’t even go see because I know I won’t enjoy it or maybe not even see the whole show.  And there are certain venues I avoid altogether because the sound is always deafening (The Boulder Theater, for one).

I do have tinnitus, which varies in intensity and intrusiveness.  I try to protect my hearing now, wish I’d started that younger.



Atari Teenage Riot in 1998 at a festival. They were extremely loud during their set but when they were about to end they let their keyboardist shower the audience with an incredible onslaught of just digital noise. A pure, screeching, overdriven, chaotic cacophony that went on for quite a few minutes. I loved it. But as I felt my body bending backwards from the sheer power of the sound I noticed that maybe it´s a bit loud. Too late: For a few days I felt like I had pillows covering my ears, which, as it eventually went away, left a slight high-pitched tinnitus-beep that´s been with me ever since. I took it as a warning, I really like my hearing, and now I always put something in my ears.

Here´s a recording from a year later that gives you an idea of what happened there. I love how the it seems to start with a song only to descent into noise at 0:37.


Slade Til Deaf Do Us Part tour, many Motörhead gigs, the last being in 2007 which got progressively louder until it was so loud I didn’t recognise Ace Of Spades or Overkill. Countless gigs over 40 years (mostly rock) where my ears still rang days after the show has left me with very mild tinnitus, but luckily my hearing is ok and I can still enjoy music, but loud gigs are a thing of the past!

Iron Maiden @ MSG 3/30/16. My earls literally rang for 5 days straight. It got to the point where I was truly nervous it wouldn’t stop-honestly could hardly hear anything else but the ringing…I recovered but I’ve definitely done some permanent damage. 

Seen Maiden 3 other times and my ears rang but only for a day or 2…

It’s hard to recall, but probably deep purple in ~’72.  There were a few other loud ones. 

I’ve had tinnitus for probably 30 years. One day I noticed a low level ringing in my right ear. I usually can ignore it. My wife says it’s because I play my music too loud (I’m pretty sure that’s not it, as I rarely play it at >85 db. The doctor told me to play music to drown out the ringing . . . I win! ;-)  I’m pretty sure my hearing issues resulted from equipment (power saws, lawn mowers). 

The tinnitus hasn’t gotten worse, though last year I had an episode where the ringing increased so much it would wake me at night. That lasted only a couple of days, but I had my hearing checked (I have a loss in one ear for a narrow bandwidth). The ENT dr put me on a course of steroids to see if the loss could be repaired, but sadly no go. He said I’ll just have to live with it.

1991 6th row Providence Civic Center RI

Iron Maiden with Anthrax without a doubt.

Incredible set lists from both.

Ears rang for 3 days. The quiet nights in bed where maddening!

Others have come close ( Judas Priest, Metallica, Motorhead)

But that one I never forgot!



Van Halen, 1984, David Lee Roth was drunk (surprise) and my ears were still ringing the following afternoon.

SoundGarden Red Rocks - front row.
Chris’s voice was easily the most terrifyingly beautiful thing I’d ever heard. My ears rang for about a week.

Now a days, Burning Man - some of the art cars (Mayan Warrior and Robot Heart) can get pretty loud, even out on the playa. You can hear House Music playing nonstop 24/7 for a week, which even at a distance can wear you down. Even with ear plugs there’s nowhere to hide. Just have to surrender to it.

Cheap Trick/Aerosmith indoor concert. Despite being up high all the way back in the upper boxes, my ears rang for 2-3 days. 

Steppenwolf back in the 60's was the loudest concert I had ever been to.  I'm 74 now and have had pretty severe tinnitus since the 80's. I attribute a lot of it to firing weapons in the army back in the late 60's and early 70's. I have worn hearing aids for the past 15 years,. 

I can't decide if it was the Who concert or the flight line with F-4 fighters taking off. Either way, I'm sure my hearing has suffered.

Loudest major concert. Def Leopard

Loudest musical event: Sitting a short distance away from the bass amp at a blues club in Chicago.  I was desperately trying to poke anything in my ears I could find.  Didn't have a cell phone back then, but if I had one, I would have tried to shove it in one ear.  A couple of hours afterwards, my nose was bleeding.

Overall, my ears didn't stand a chance.

Drag racing.  Standing near the starting line was the best place to take in the action.  And, the loudest.

Competition car audio.  I used to joke that my car made so much bass, I had stretch marks on my trunk lid.  In the early days of car audio competition, it actually was about ingenuity and sound quality.  The officials mercifully topped SPL at a mere 140 db. Anything above that didn't earn any extra points.  Years later, our demo van hit 150db+.  We amused spectators by placing a Big Gulp on the roof, cranking up the system and watching it bounce around until it finally feel to the ground. I wanted to put a big graphic on the side that read: "Van Whalen", but never got around to it. We never won a major SPL competition.  There was always somebody around who played louder. At 153db we were considered lightweights.

Its no surprise that my hearing loss and tinnitus set in early for me.  I initially thought I'd blown a tweeter in my speakers, but an RTA verified that it was my hearing.  Tinnitus sucks.  Have tried several remedies, and can't recommend anything thus far.

Easy for me.

First was the Outlaws in 1979. Green Grass and High Tides for about 28 minutes and ear piercing volumes. Ears rang for two solid days.

Second was Ian Hunter with Mick Ronson on guitar.  I was on the rail and it was another ear piercing experience. Deafening.

Third, being under the stack in 1989 at Autzen Stadium for the Dead and during drums Mickey’s bar thing was reverberating crazily.  Could feel it in my chest. That was tough.

Honorable mention, any electric Jack White show.  Frankly, Just doesn’t need to be that loud.

I have had tinnitus ever since the 1980’s and now wearing aides.  Paying the price. 

After years of Tinnitus and mountains of research, I found some relief...not a cure...QUIETUM PLUS. I hope it can help someone.

AC/DC 1980 Back in black tour 5 Seasons center

Cedar Rapids Iowa DB peaks was over 140 db 

The cops literally came and shut the show down there 

was so many complaints from the people who lived around 

was in the 15th row center stage took 2 weeks for my ears 

to stop ringing 

back in the days when i was frequent at knittingfactory NYC, Larval put out BIG dB in relatively small venue! Bill Laswell was there and this dude loves his bass LOUD!

Squeeze/James at Radio City, with (dis)honorable mention to Springsteen at the United Center.  My ENT has tinnitus from being backstage at a Springsteen show.  If he cares so much about his audience, including kids and young adults, then why is it so f@&$ing loud.  Another (dis)honorable mention to every wedding and bar mitzvah I've gone to in the last 20 years!  Since I tried my best to use hearing protection, my tinnitus was very mild until I had a recent sudden hearing loss, unrelated to concert attendance.

Without question it was Bassnectar at Red Rocks. I was half way up the amphitheater and my decibel meter in my phone measured 115. It was nuts and forced Red Rocks to change the rules and ban Bassnectar for ever. 

as far as tinnitus, I’ve had since a teen due to ear infections. Nothing has seemed to help. I always protect my ears at concerts. 

Some of the ones that had my ears ringing for days were in no particular order, 

Grand Funk

The Cars (Panorama tour - everything cranked to 11!)


The Killers (everything super-loud and super-distorted)

The Verve (everything super-loud and super-distorted)

In the older days, the PA gear just wasn't as good and would distort, making the volume just that much worse. These days, it's more down to the sound crew, I think, as I've heard some of these bands at other times, even in the same venue, and the sound was great.

I've had tinnitus for many years; it's a hissing sound that is sometimes louder and sometimes softer, but it's relatively easy to ignore. 

Hot Tuna (electric obviously) in the mid - late 70's.  Louder than all of the others - Stones, Who, etc

Someone mentioned a Clapton show from the Journeyman show. Saw one of those at the Hartford CC and while not loudest I've heard, the sound was extremely harsh and I had to leave well before the end.

Had 3rd row far left seats at the Beacon Theater for an Allman Bros. show in the 90's. We were right in front of a speaker stack on the stage and I couldn't hear a thing when the show ended. Good sound but really really loud.

I've been to over 100 Grateful Dead and Garcia Band shows and the sound was great at most of them. Sometimes it would take the sound guys a few songs to get things just exactly perfect but once they did it didn't get much better. Often extremely loud but the sound was so clean it rarely felt uncomfortable. And when Lesh's bass was dialed in it was heaven.

I've had pretty severe tinnitus for at least 40 years, mostly due to having a lot of ear infections and other issues when I was a kid. All the concerts probably haven't helped but I don't think they've made it much worse either. The brain is usually pretty good at blocking it out most of the time.


I'd like to add one more concert that was way too loud to be even considered music and that was a Lou Reed concert. Nothing sounded right, let alone relatable to the music I knew. It was just painstakingly loud to the point where I tried to walk out but my friend was so bummed out about it that I just sat there with my hands over my ears.

My ears were ringing all the way home. Right now I'm scratching my head as to just what it was that started all this nonsense regarding concerts so loud that it hurt and how that became a rite of passage of sorts. I remember seeing Talking Heads and their Stop Making Sense tour and how much fun that was and never once did I have to cover my ears.

All the best,

I used to have a recording studio and at least half my projects were hard core bands in the Portland area. I went to see most every band I recorded at one or more of their live shows and the sound levels were punishing. Fortunately I had discovered Etymotic earplugs (ER20) and I wore them religiously. I ordered a couple dozen pairs at a time directly from the manufacturer because I would give a pair to each member of the bands I recorded along with a lecture about protecting their hearing. When the guy from Etymotic found out what I was doing with them he gave me a huge discount.

Before I learned to wear earplugs I walked out of an ELP concert in Spokane because it was stupid crazy loud and I couldn't take it any more. After about 20 minutes my two buddies and I just looked at each other and instantly knew what all of us were thinking. We walked out. Prior to my hardcore experience that concert took the prize.

I was able to escape tinnitus, at least so far (I'm 67), because I knew that my dad and my brother fought tinnitus and hearing loss because of their military service. I would break off the filters from a couple of cigarettes and stuff them into my ears to get some relief before I learned about high quality earplugs. I made absolutely sure that my kids always had earplugs when they went to live shows and they have thanked me.

I’ve had tinnitus for at least 40 yrs—first noticed it hiking in the desert Southwest in 1986 and I was in a dead silent box canyon hearing the most astounding loud ringing in my ears! Mine was caused by blasting music in my parents’ and then my own car. It was the 60s and we all turned up the AM radio as far as it would go. Loudest concert I ever attended was Stones Steel Wheels tour in DC around 1989. RFK Stadium was LOUD sound was CRAP  but we stayed for the whole 4 hrs! Did not help the tinnitus. I’ve more or less gotten used to it though it does seem really loud these days.


Motorhead was ridiculously loud

Not entirely unexpected, surely?

Some friends saw Motorhead at an old theatre where they said the whole balcony where they were stood was shaking. They were scared that it might even collapse.



My Bloody Valentine. Roseland Ballroom, NYC. 2008.
I couldn’t believe sound reproduction could attain that level. I had been to very loud shows in the past; this was at the level of an air-show.


I’ve heard enough about them to never attend a concert.
Not even on my doorstep. I think the figure 140db was mentioned.




Another (dis)honorable mention to every wedding and bar mitzvah I’ve gone to in the last 20 years!


Things seem to be better these days.

I remember some nightmare wedding receptions during the late 80s and 90s. Everything loud, everything distorted, everyone too drunk to notice.

Of course once you’re blissfully drunk, there’s no such thing as too loud.



The Killers (everything super-loud and super-distorted)

The Verve (everything super-loud and super-distorted)

Yes, a most deadly and unpleasant combination. Physical and musical torture. There’s really little excuse for poor PA systems these days.


From Wikipedia - Loud Bands

1972 Deep Purple was recognised by The Guinness Book of World Records as the "globe’s loudest band" for a concert at the London Rainbow Theatre, during which the sound reached 117 dB and three members of the audience fell unconscious.

1976 The Who were next to be listed as the "record holder" at 126 dB, having been measured 32 metres (105 feet) from the speakers during a concert in London at The Valley on 31 May 1976.

1984 and 1994 The Guinness Book of World Records listed Manowar as the loudest band for a performance in 1984. The band claimed a louder measurement of 129.5 dB in 1994 at Hanover, but Guinness did not recognise it, having discontinued the category by that time for fear of encouraging hearing damage.

1986 An article by Scott Cohen appeared in February 1986 issue of Spin entitled "Motörhead is the Loudest Band on Earth". In it, Cohen alluded to an undated concert during which Cleveland’s Variety Theater actually sustained damage from Motörhead reaching a decibel level of 130. This he reported was 10 decibels louder than the record set by The Who.

1990 The 1990 edition of the Guinness World Records contained the following entry: Largest PA system: On August 20, 1988, at the Castle Donington "Monsters of Rock" Festival a total of 360 Turbosound cabinets offering a potential 523kW of programme power, formed the largest front-of-house PA. The average Sound Pressure Level at the mixing tower was 118dB, peaking at a maximum of 124 dB during Iron Maiden’s set. It took five days to set up the system."

1996 The English House/Electronica band Leftfield, while on tour to support their debut album Leftism, gained notoriety for the sheer volume of their live shows. In June 1996, while the group was playing at Brixton Academy, the sound system caused dust and plaster to fall from the roof, with the sound volume reaching 135 dB.

2007 British punk band Gallows allegedly broke Manowar’s penultimate record, claiming to have reached 132.5 dB; however, this record claim was made in an isolated studio as opposed to a live environment.

2008 Manowar registered an SPL of 139 dB during the sound check (not the actual performance) at the Magic Circle Fest in 2008.

2009 On July 15, at a Canadian concert in Ottawa, the band Kiss recorded an SPL of 136 dB measured during their live performance. Noise complaints from residents in the area eventually forced the band to turn the volume down. (136 dB is approximately the threshold of pain, and about as loud as a jet taking off 100 metres (330 ft) away, or the loudest human voice shouting 1 inch (2.5 centimetres) away from the ear.)