The Concert Speakers Are A Lie

My life was just flipped, turned upside down and I didn't even have to move to California. It just took one photo, a dozen instant messages and a handful of emails to confirm that I've been lied to by musicians.

My first reaction when I saw the photo above was to believe that it could be fake, but several searches for more information led to the same answer: It's from a summer performance of a band called Immortal and it's real. The band had used a fake wall of amps for some reason - probably to appear more "hardcore" or whatever it is metal bands aspire to be - and got caught.

The next thought was that perhaps it could it be just a rare one-time act of concert stage trickery. But unfortunately, a series of emails and instant messages to musicians, stage hands, equipment providers and club managers revealed the sad truth: It's not uncommon for bands to set up fake stacks of speakers or amps - hell, empty amp cabinets are frequently sold for that precise purpose.

Was I the last person on the planet to discover this sham? I feel deceived, but I suppose that's what I get for browsing Reddit when I should be writing a Gizmodo post.


    This is a pretty common thing. The main reason for not using a wall of real amps is to keep the stage volume down so the vocals have a chance of being heard in the microphone. The main reason for the wall of amps facade is image and ego.

    Totally unsurprising. Sometimes the level of effort that goes into the ruse will change (from time to time you'll see real amps, that have power running to them, but the only actual sound is coming from a wee tiny amp somewhere else on the stage).

    Bands fake these enormous amp walls because they haven't even been necessary since the late 60's. They give a different sound, for sure, but in terms of a band being audible in a stadium, that problem was solvered decades ago.

    Nail on the head JC, There are numerous other reasons unloaded cabinets / amp facades get used. As mentioned the major one being ego, metal bands such as immortal wouldn’t project the same image if they simply had two engl heads (picture above) feeding into two loaded cabinets.
    Another is simply the gig location. Running 6 full tour stacks on top of lighting and a PA system can become fairly costly when your pouring diesel into a generator. Not to mention the tour costs of dragging that amount of gear with you to each venue.

    almost every hard-rock/metal band since about 1980 have just used a a six-stack of Marshal amps

    I hear Marshall amps go upto 11.

    Yeah, as long as everyone perceives you as 'metal' it doesn't matter. As long as it sounds good out the front... I use a Marshall 4x12 cab and it's almost too loud for big (10kish) shows that we do from time to time. It's just not necessary because of the power and efficiency of PAs these days.

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