Music History

What was the loudest rock band ever? And how loud was that? This infographic explains everything.

Every music fans inevitably ends up at a gig that is just too loud. Volume is fine, but there are limits. The human body can only take so much.

I remember being made physically ill by sound pressure levels at an Anvil concert. I got too close to Dinosaur Jr once and paid for it for days. And the Foo Fighters might think of turning things down just a little. It would make for a better show.

But how loud is loud? A site called Get Licensed created this interactive website the compares the volume of rock bands to other loud things. The further you drag the slider down, the louder things get.

Click on the image to get started.

The Guinness Book of World Records used to investigate claims of the loudest rock band ever, but because of the potential for hearing damage, they aren’t doing that anymore. That, however, doesn’t stop bands from trying to claim the top spot.

The highest volume claim I could find belongs to Sleazy Joe, a Swedish rock band, that was measured at 143.2 dB in 2008. That’s almost equivalent to standing 25 metres away from a jet fighter at full takeoff thrust.

More on loud bands here.




Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38466 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

8 thoughts on “What was the loudest rock band ever? And how loud was that? This infographic explains everything.

  • Tragically Hip – News Year’s Day – My ears rang for 3 days!! The opening acts volume level were perfect – and then The Hip sound guy turned it up to 12!! Not needed at all.
    Also – Cage The Elephant – silly loud – couldn’t hear the words.

  • Motörhead, definitely Motörhead! The LOUDEST band I had ever seen live. Ears rang for a week from one show I was at.

  • Metallica, Aerosmith, Warrant, Black Crowes. Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON; June 29, 1990. I think this was like pre-noise bylaws and sound infractions and the like. My ears are still ringing…And my mom let me bring my pre-pubescent little brother to the show. But it’s all good. …What?…Did you just say something? Ha, ha 😉

  • Surprised that My Bloody Valentine and Swans don’t make this list.

    But yeah I’ve worn earplugs to every single show since KMFDM destroyed my hearing for three days after a show at a small club in my early 20s. Sure wish I’d gotten the memo before.

    • Come to think of it, me, too. MBV is loud enough to crush your ribcage.

    • Was it at the Icon in Buffalo by any chance? I stood behind the sound crew and the meter read 138.

  • Nah, it was Ottawa in 2003 or 2004.

    I could have sworn they were on a cross-Canada anti-Bush tour in 2003 (Sasha was talking about moving here during his stage-banter) and played Babylon in Ottawa, but can’t find any evidence of it now. They did an anniversary tour in 2004 and definitely played Barrymore’s then.

    I had an awesome Canada-specific tour shirt with a BRUTE!-designed moose on it, which would have confirmed venue/dates, but unfortunately that got destroyed by moths.


Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.