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Metal Mondays: Environmental impact of metal concerts is not worth it

When I read the Metal Injection headline “Metallica’s Download Set Got Noise Complaint From 15 Miles Away,” all I could think was “rock on.” At the time, I was full of anticipation, as I was going to see the band on that same tour; if I got anything less than a similar sonic assault on my eardrums, I was going to be thoroughly disappointed. 

I thought the same thing when I went to see KISS at the Louisville-based Louder Than Life festival my senior year of high school. The band is notorious for its head-splittingly loud live shows, and I was thrilled to have my ears ring for days after.

It took hearing that Rammstein, a band with one of the most energetic live shows out of anyone touring right now, uses 1,000 liters of fuel every show, for me to start thinking about the environmental issues surrounding metal’s over the top live shows.

Why do we as metalheads celebrate the pain that comes from these performances? A loud construction zone has the same effect on the ears as a rock or metal concert, yet the harm construction zones cause is taken much more seriously. On top of that, why are we promoting abject climate disregard in the use of pyrotechnics in live shows?

Noise pollution is a serious issue. Any sound above 85 decibels can cause harm to a person’s ears. Power mowers, subway trains and, of course, rock and metal concerts can cause permanent hearing damage to our ears. The easy solution is earplugs, but how many concert goers actually don a pair? I never do, even at small venues where the sound bounces around a lot more.

The nearest apartments to Metlife Stadium, where I saw Metallica perform twice, are about a two mile drive away. That is not even a straight shot — you have to take two miles of winding roads to get to the stadium. People living in these places are exposed to year-round live shows and football games, which can have serious health effects. 

According to National Geographic, “Exposure to loud noise can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress.”

“These health problems can affect all age groups, especially children,” National Geographic continues. “Many children who live near noisy airports or streets have been found to suffer from stress and other problems, such as impairments in memory, attention level, and reading skill.” Additionally, noise pollution has serious effects on local wildlife, including fertility problems and changes in migration patterns.

Side-by-side with the noise pollution, the use of fuel for pyrotechnics is increasingly problematic. While Rammstein is somewhat of an outlier, almost all large rock and metal bands use some form of pyrotechnics. Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe and many other legendary groups are known for their impressive pyrotechnic displays. Considering our surprisingly warm February, maybe we should start questioning this unnecessary use of fuel.

If we map out the 1,000 liters of fuel that Rammstein uses, we begin to see the absurdity of this. 1,000 liters is about 264 gallons. With 264 gallons of gas, a 2019 Honda Civic could go 9,504 miles (between highways and cities), a 2021 Ford F-150 could go 4,554 miles on a highway and an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank could go about 158 miles. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Jackson, you’re being no fun,” or “Why are you ignoring pop stars like Taylor Swift’s carbon footprints?” 

I am not trying to limit the fun that can be had at a live show, nor am I trying to diminish the contributions to global warming of the top 1%. We should be holding all big musicians — regardless of genre — accountable for their contributions to noise pollution and climate change.

Rock and metal are also unique genres in this case, because bands in this genre can have super fun live shows without relying on fossil fuel. Hardcore and smaller thrash bands have been doing this for years; all it takes to have fun at a concert is good stage presence and good music. Most small venues provide earplugs for attendees, and all venues must make sure they are keeping noise at a reasonable level (what is considered “reasonable” depends on the location of the venue).

Overall, I think our favorite bands can be doing a better job of protecting our ears and our planet. We can no longer ignore the issues that come with live shows, and metalheads everywhere need to unite to protect nature, each other and our futures.

Jackson McCoy is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Jackson know by emailing or tweeting him at or @_jackson_mccoy_.

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