Band Caught with Fake Amps. Embarrassing But Not Unusual.

Let’s be honest: performing before a crowd standing in front of a giant wall of amplifier cabinets is a cock-rocker’s dream.  Having all those speakers behind looks so goddam cool.  

I remember seeing Van Halen and being impressed with Eddie’s wall of drivers.

Same with KISS…

…and Slayer.

But wait.  Take a closer look at the image above.  Notice that there are mics in front of just two of the cabinets.  Is it possible the rest of them are just there for…show?

Well, duh.  If all of them were fired up, they’ve overwhelm everything else:  onstage monitoring, the overall house mix and the hearing of everyone within a five-mile radius.  Those cabinets are up there because they’re being used for their visual impact.

This sort of stage dress has been going on for decades.  And done right, it looks great. 

Then we have Black Veil Brides, who are part of this year’s Warped Tour.  This is NOT how you do it. See?

Go for show, dudes–but make sure you enclose the backs.  Social media tattling will kill you.

(Via The PRP)


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

8 thoughts on “Band Caught with Fake Amps. Embarrassing But Not Unusual.

  • June 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    So what? It's all about the show and the image. If a band adds some fake cabinets to the show, then it's no big deal.

  • June 24, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I remember seeing The Devin Townsend Project at a club in T.O. a few years ago and they had no speaker cabinets on stage. I don't think most people realize that in any venue that uses a PA to mix everything, unless you're standing right next to the stage, you're probably not hearing the speakers on stage. They're more there for the benefit of the musician to hear themselves—and with a good in-ear monitor, they're not necessary.

  • June 25, 2013 at 3:58 am

    also, most people don't realize the original reason for using a stack of cabinets. Jimi Hendrix, and the who were rocking stadiums in an era where the PA was not fully developed yet. Hi tech PA with EQ's that allowed them to fine tune the pa to avoid feed back, and therefore crank thousands of watts of power, did not exist.

    In that era, they NEEDED a stack to create volume. but guitarists who used that much power ended up destroying their ears. Pete Townsend is almost completely deaf now because of how loud those guitar amps were cranked back then.

  • June 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    The stage hands had to lug them..empty cabs weigh a lot less too!


  • August 1, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    I saw a Van Halen tribute band play with a fake wall of speakers this spring of 2021. I told my band-mates who attended with me what I thought they were doing and how the speakers were built, as I have also built tuned speaker cabinets for decades. The cabs weren’t deep enough and looked too flimsy to handle high volume bass without rattling. Likely no internal bracing. Lightweight and easy to haul to performances. I just saw this article, which confirmed what I thought. Van Halen himself using fake speaker cabs identical externally to the ones we saw! There is nothing wrong with creating an audience-impressing image. The tribute concert was wonderful, and a convincing replication of the Van Halen sound and stage show! It’s all good! Thanks for your fun article! Joe


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