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[Discussion] Guitar Smashing and Instrument Destruction

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This is sort of a poll, I guess. 

I always thought everyone just kinda went crazy for instrument destruction during a show, until I saw all these comments on YouTube videos for bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, even Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Nirvana, all legends that all of a sudden people are trashing and calling “overrated and terrible” just because they destroyed an inanimate object. “It’s so disrespectful, give it to me” all that whiny BS. 

 

I vote badass. I understand why some don’t like it, but that’s a part of the point. And overall, people love it precisely because it’s disrespectful and brutal. It’s fun to riot and come on, who doesn’t like to destroy shit, or watch shit get destroyed? That’s why most people like it. It satisfies an aggressive desire for sadism in a typically high adrenaline/high testosterone environment. A random and epic outburst of violence. 

 

I think it’s a bit different today - I can’t imagine artists like Jimi Hendrix or Pete Townsend smashing instruments if they came about today, it’s floated up the genre ladder as rock gradually produced more aggressive genres. I would expect to see a guitar smashed in a fit of adrenaline at a hardcore show, maybe not a blues or a folk rock show, for example...though it’s all over the place. 

 

Off the top of my head, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Kiss, Metallica, Saxon, Yngwie Malmsteen, The Yardbirds, Skid Row, Nine Inch Nails, Deep Purple, Krokus, Warbeast, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Clash, The Misfits, ad infinitum, made a habit of doing this. They’re still awesome musicians anyways, and anyone trashing them because they destroy their own property for entertainment is being a pussy killjoy, imo.

 

But I can’t stand people that whine and say it’s “cliché”. Um, yeah, that’s because it’s almost as old as the guitar solo...showmanship, specifically instrument destruction, began in ‘63 with The Who (though with a few smaller, isolated acts before then) - that’s going on 60 years, more than half a century, of instrument destruction being an oft practiced staple across the rock music scene and its many, many sub-genres. Millions of bands across the word, small local ones and big, arena-selling ones have done it. It’s badass. It’s fun. It’s not supposed to be some artsy expression that “was only acceptable when Jimi did it” - it’s fun to destroy shit. Its awesome and fun and it always will be. 

 

Anyone else wanna offer their take? Is it badass or just bad?

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I've done it once, was much younger and drunk.. and wasn't my instrument.. 😅

I do think it's really a worn out cliche. Not once have i seen someone smash an instrument and thought it was cool or badass. To me it's disrespecting the instrument, and every person who would love to own a guitar as good but just can't afford one. That said everyone is entitled to do whatever the hell they want with their stuff, just doesn't make you any cooler. In my books makes someone a bit of an idiot. I know i was back when i did it. I've never been huge on showmanship either, quite possibly because i hate all kinds of pretending. I prefer that the music does the talking. Everything else around it to me is pointless nonsense.

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The smashing of instruments had its time. You don't see it often these days and I'm thankful for that. Not once in the decade of playing guitar have I thought smashing one would be fun or cool. It's just a played out trope, Spinal Tap shit, and there are more lasting, impactful ways to leave an impression on your audience.

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When Jimi Hendrix did it I think it was between him and the guitar. They had a "special relationship" that almost certainly included some hate. Pete Townsend was the certified bad boy of his time. The Who were always the worst. They had a reputation to keep up. The first time I saw someone smash up their guitar on stage was in 1980. It was Paul Stanley of Kiss. I even secured a part as he was tossing them into the audience. But it was of course not his good guitar. Everybody could see that. 

My thoughts on this is that if they are your instruments, they are yours to do whatever you want with, including smashing them up. However, I fail to see what's "badass" about destroying your own property just for the hell of it. If it's a part of some greater show of message, sure, why not, but the general rule of thumb is that musicians should be careful with theatrical antics. It doesn't always play out as they had imagined it would.

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On 3/16/2019 at 1:00 AM, Requiem said:

I've been to hundreds of gigs and I can't recall anyone doing this. I think it sort of reached its apex in the 70s and slowly dwindled from there. 

It’s a specific type of theatric. Does everyone do it? No. Even in the 70s, only a handful of bands were noted to have done it, because they were majorly succesful

But it’s a fairly common practice, and has remained so since the 60s

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On 3/16/2019 at 5:32 AM, MaxFaust said:

the general rule of thumb is that musicians should be careful with theatrical antics. It doesn't always play out as they had imagined it would.

My favorite example of this is a local show I went to about fifteen years ago where a guitarist tried and utterly failed to break his guitar in any satisfying way. It was a non-sequitur at that show to begin with, but it all came together for me as he impotently rammed the headstock down into the floor over and over with a "please, please break" expression on his face.

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On 3/16/2019 at 7:00 AM, Requiem said:

I've been to hundreds of gigs and I can't recall anyone doing this. I think it sort of reached its apex in the 70s and slowly dwindled from there. 

I have been to more than my fair share of gigs, too and no, I cannot recall any imstruments being smashed up on stage either, or that I simply found it so unimpressiv that I have forgotten all about it. 

As to how I feel about it: punk rock, hard rock and metal is energy to me and especially live, it makes me feel high. My way of absorbing this energy feels like entering another realm of exsistance...and I do this in a quiet way. For others this energy might make them feeling very energetic and some what aggressive...so rather take it out on some guitar or drumset than anything else. So yes, if this is the case... granted, I am not a musician myself... then fine by me. 

And then there are instruments...and instruments: I assume that most people would be pretty pissed off if someone smashed up a Stradivarius violin, but more relax about the same happening to a mass produced instrument. 

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