There were a few notable stories which came out of 2016’s Oasis: Supersonic, a documentary about Britain’s favourite pair of bratty brothers; the Gallaghers, but while tales of the highs of their stardom are tantalising with glittery stardust we found ourselves curiously, perhaps morbidly, following Oasis to their depths. One story involves Los Angeles, the famous Whisky-A-Go-Go, and crystal meth. This is the story of Oasis’ worst ever gig.
When Oasis jumped across the pond for their first US tour there were murmurings around the musical world that perhaps America wasn’t quite ready for the Gallaghers and Oasis. The band’s infamous lack of respect for pretty much anything but the Beatles and Johnny Marr did provide them with some much-needed column inches to help take a thwack at America, but it also posed a host of probable problems for their tour manager in an increasingly sanitised US rock scene. When arriving in Los Angeles, the band wasted little time bringing these issues to the fore.
For those of us who were not around in the early nineties, or at least not paying attention to Liam and Noel Gallagher, we thought we’d try a visualisation exercise. Imagine Liam and Noel Gallagher as they are now, now remove any gracefulness or wisdom they have gained with age.
Now, add in the intoxicating know-it-all-ism of youth, the energy of a Duracell bunny, the backing of a nation smitten by their new rock and roll sound, a newfound bounty of cash, and cocaine, lots of cocaine. Then mix it all together, pour it into swaggering body and recoil in abject horror as they smirk and smash their way through America, or any other country in their way. That is the kind of Oasis that Los Angeles had to deal with in ’94.
True to form it didn’t take them long to cause some musical mischief. They were thrown out of the KROQ radio station for swearing on air. They then found themselves fighting with bouncers at the legendary Viper Room. They’d even had a visit from the LAPD, arriving at 6 am with guns drawn, because Bonehead refused to stop playing ‘Supersonic’ on his guitar as loudly as he possibly could. It appeared as though the scene was set.
The band arrive at the soundcheck at one of the most important and famous venues in the world, the Whisky-A-Go-Go, with dreams of emulating some of the greatest rock acts of all time. Think Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Doors and everyone in between, this was the beginning of Oasis’ expected domination. But their penchant for a rock star lifestyle had led them to look for coke but their Brit-abroad-balls left them finding the “ninja speed” drug; crystal meth.
Liam says in Supersonic of the incident: “I don’t know who fucking got it but it was there and we all thought it was coke. We’re doing big fucking lines of it and it just kept us up for fucking days”. The band were not in the right place.
With a huge introduction from the perversely hair-cutted compere, calling them “the best band in the universe”, Liam saunters on stage with a frazzled look and tells the audience “The fookin’ band aren’t coming. You’ve just got me tonight.” A sentiment which would later be all too likely an event, but not tonight, as the band dutifully follow him on stage. On reflection, maybe they shouldn’t have.
What follows is a truly terrible set, literally one of the worst you will ever see or hear. It was a set full of undulating incidents of rock and roll infamy. It was a set full of issues, including [Deep breath] exploding bass amps, Noel, playing songs completely different to the rest of the band, Liam threatening the audience after one crowdsurfer nearly knocks over his mic, Noel sings with a camp tone, Liam, therefore, can’t be bothered to sing and sits his way through most of the songs.
Then the brotherly fights begin, Liam, getting right up into Noel’s face and telling him to go “fuck himself” and then bopping him on the head with a tambourine. LG offering another view of that particular incident “he’s lucky I didn’t launch a monitor at him or something, or a fucking drummer”.
Liam then goes into a full crazed animal mode and paces the stage like an angry tiger until, thankfully, the set ends. Liam walks off stage and straight out on to Sunset Blvd with a towel wrapped around his neck and Noel flees to San Francisco, quitting the band for a fortnight all because someone on their team didn’t know the difference between cocaine and crystal meth.
Oasis would go on to dominate the world of rock for the next decade and then some, still finding new fans with their solo work to this day. While this is undoubtedly one of their worst gigs ever, it would actually work in the band’s favour. In America, it would transform them from “that British bahnd” into a rock and roll outfit worthy of trashing Sunset strip. In Britain, it would cement them as children of Britannia – ballsy, brash, brutal, and usually inebriated.
They were us, and we were them – and since then, it’s never really changed.
Watch below the clip from Oasis: Supersonic and below that is the audio of the fabled performance, as Oasis perform their worst ever gig at the Whisky-A-Go-Go in 1994.