Throwing things at musicians while they’re trying to perform isn’t a new phenomenon – just ask Daphne and Celeste, who famously got pelted with bottles by a raging crowd at Reading & Leeds festival back in 2000. Tom Jones used to regularly dodge flurries of airborne knickers during his Sex Bomb heyday, while Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner was once the target of a fan’s sock.
What does feel different now, however, is the frequency and seriousness of these kinds of incidents. It’s one thing chucking a water bottle onto a stage, but it’s another thing entirely deliberately aiming objects at artists – in some cases leaving them with serious injuries afterwards. This year, both Ava Max and Bebe Rexha have been hurt by fans invading their stages or throwing objects directly at their faces.
During his world tour, Harry Styles appeared to be hurt after an object thrown onstage in Vienna struck him in the eye, while new footage released on July 10 shows Taylor Swift cowering to avoid several bracelets thrown at her as she left the stage.
It’s something that Adele commented on during a Las Vegas show. “Have you noticed how people are like, forgetting f**king show etiquette at the moment?” she said. “People just throwing shit on stage, have you seen them?” she said. “I f**king dare you. Dare you to throw something at me and I’ll f**king kill you.”
The impromptu speech was made all the more impactful as Adele was wielding a t-shirt gun as she spoke; the singer was using her benevolent firearm to fire merch into the audience in the way a pantomime star might fling sweets out to their adoring crowds.
“Stop throwing things at the artist when you can shoot things to people …” she added, after shooting a t-shirt into the crowd. “I’ve been seeing these people. These people lost it, can you imagine?”
Adele’s comments come after a spate of incidents involving fans throwing increasingly strange objects onto stages, and in some cases injuring artists in the process. Even more concerningly, we’ve also seen people deliberately injuring artists after conducting impromptu stage invasions.
Here’s a brief history of a trend which – worryingly – seems to be on the rise.
Nick Jonas urges fans to “stop”
During a Jonas Brothers gig in Sacramento earlier this week (September 11) Nick Jonas took a moment out from the boyband’s performance to gently tell off fans for throwing things. Two small objects, which appear to be bracelets, fly onto the stage, while a third fan waves a disposable camera in the singer’s direction. “Stop. Stop. No more,” he appears to tell members of the audience, smiling and gesturing with his hands that enough is enough.
Nick Jonas reprimanded fans for tossing things onstage during Jonas Brothers concert. pic.twitter.com/mtLIgXfOnr
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) September 13, 2023
Cardi B has had enough
During a Las Vegas performance on July 29, Cardi B retaliated against a fan who threw a drink on her as she performed her hit Bodak Yellow.
The Mirror claims that the rapper initially encouraged fans to throw their drinks in the air, but was unhappy when one got a little carried away. After one audience member chucked the entire contents of their cup and it seemed to hit the rapper in the face, Cardi became angry and threw her microphone into the audience before security quickly intervened. She appeared to be yelling into the crowd as her song continued to play. The performance reportedly continued following the mic toss, with the culprit soon getting escorted out.
At a seperate Vegas show the previous night, Cardi also threw her microphone at a DJ. It’s not clear exactly why she was unhappy, but a handful of fans claimed that songs were being cut off early.
Cardi B throws microphone at audience member who threw a drink at her. pic.twitter.com/alLgHMFshb
— Pop Base (@PopBase) July 30, 2023
Taylor Swift flinches while leaving show
It’s unclear when this incident happened, but new footage has emerged filmed at a stop of Taylor Swift’s Eras tour. It shows the singer appearing to cower from several flying objects as she’s leaving the stage and heading back to her dressing rooms. Surrounded by security, the artist can be seen heading down a gangway and waving to greet fans up above, before objects that appear to be bracelets fly down from several directions. Her security team attempt to shield her, and she quickly disappears out of view.
Fans have been making and trading friendship bracelets throughout the Eras tour – even actor Nicole Kidman got in on the act at one point – but throwing them at Swift herself without warning is a worrying development. “Stop throwing things at your favourite artists, I can assure you they don’t enjoy it,” tweeted one fan.
Harry Styles hurt at Vienna show
When Harry Styles’ Love On Tour stopped off in Vienna on July 8, the singer appeared to be in significant pain after an item struck him in the face. In footage captured from the crowd, he could be seen walking across the stage when something hits him in the eye; Styles seems to shout out, and turns his back on the audience while clutching the side of his face.
Myriam, a German fan who was at the show, said that Styles was hit after opening the encore with Sign of the Times. “He still kept touching his face a lot. It looked like it hurt very much. It seems like he had to collect himself and then he turned back to us and kept performing,” she said.
“I want this never to happen to him again. As it’s happened too many times already now,” she added.
The Once-Directioner is no stranger to fans hurling strange objects onto the stage in a bid to catch his attention – while touring his self-titled debut in 2017, the singer had to ask fans to stop throwing fruit onto the stage during his song Kiwi. Elsewhere, he’s had to dodge everything from chicken nuggets and flowers to heavier projectiles. In 2015, while still in One Direction, the singer appeared to be in pain after being struck in the face by a can of Red Bull; a few weeks later, another fan threw a water bottle at his crotch.
Late last year, meanwhile, Styles was hit directly in the eye by a flurry of Skittles – after the incident, he appeared to be in some pain, clutching his face and wincing as he took his bows following live favourite Kiwi.
YALLLLLL. This goes without saying. 👏🏻 DO 👏🏻 NOT 👏🏻 THROW 👏🏻 STUFF 👏🏻 AT 👏🏻 PEOPLE 👏🏻 Harry Styles took a forcefully thrown skittles to the freaking eye last night. Come on, use some common sense!! 😡 pic.twitter.com/yK0PLlTh6H
— • jennie • (@jenn020704) November 15, 2022
Kid Cudi abandons Rolling Loud set
Just 15 minutes into his set at Miami’s Rolling Loud festival last year, Kid Cudi cut his show short after some audience members ignored his requests for them to stop throwing objects onto the stage. “I will f**king leave. If I get hit with one more f**king thing—if I see one more f**king thing on this f**king stage, I’m leaving. Don’t f**k with me,” he told the crowd, before he was struck with a water bottle. The rapper stayed true to his word and left immediately
“It’s supposed to be an unspoken agreement amongst artists and fans, that you’re supposed to give the utmost respect and not interfere with the performance,” he later told Zane Lowe.
Kelsea Ballerini forced off stage by bracelet
Midway through a performance of her hit If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Too), Tennessee country-pop star Kelsea Ballerini briefly stepped offstage in Ohio after being forcibly struck in the face by a bracelet thrown by a member of the audience. Following the injury, she could be seen talking to her bandmates before handing her guitar to a stagehand and heading backstage.
“Can we talk about what just happened?” she said after returning shortly afterwards to finish the show. “Don’t throw things, you know? I just always want shows of mine – every show, for every artist – but I’m in control of this one. I just want it to be a safe place for everyone. Can you help me do that tonight?”
The following morning, she added that the incident “scared me more than hurt me”. “We all have triggers and layers of fears way deeper than what is shown, and that’s why I walked offstage to calm down and make sure myself, band and crew, and the crowd all felt safe to continue,” she said on Instagram. “That’s all I ever want is for shows to feel like a safe place for us all.”
STOP. THROWING. THINGS. ON. STAGE. It’s common sense. It’s not funny, it’s not cute.
Kelsea Ballerini, did not deserve this, NO artist deserves to be treated this way. If you don’t know how to act right, you should NOT be at a concert pic.twitter.com/hqmUTjYYd4
— angela (@cryjustalittIe) June 29, 2023
Bebe Rexha hospitalised after phone attack
Last month, on June 18, pop singer Bebe Rexha required hospital treatment after being hit in the face by a phone; the blow left her with a black eye, and required three stitches. Though the singer seemed in fairly good spirits as she showed fans the extent of her injury the following day, she urged: Let’s just do a better job of keeping each other safe at shows.”
27-year-old Nicolas Malvagna was later arrested and charged with assaulting Rexha. Rolling Stone reported that he told police: “I was trying to see if I could hit her with the phone at the end of the show because it would be funny.”
However, Malvagna’s lawyer Todd Spodek later claimed that his client was taking part in a TikTok trend when he threw the phone onstage. “As a fan, Mr. Malvagna’s sole intention was to have Ms. Rexha take photos with his phone and return it as a keepsake. It was never his intention to injure Ms. Rexha,” he said in a statement.
At a more recent gig on July 4, Rexha could be seen performing in large sunglasses, with some speculation that they were also a form of eye protection.
Bebe Rexha gets injured on stage after a fan threw their phone at her. pic.twitter.com/jaZ2cigtJy
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) June 19, 2023
Ava Max assaulted by a stage invader
The very same week as Rexha’s hospitalisation, rising US dance-pop star Ava Max was assaulted by a fan who invaded the stage of the Fonda Theatre as she performed The Motto. A man appears to rush towards Ava Max before slapping her across the face. After finishing the song, she left the stage. "He slapped me so hard that he scratched the inside of my eye. He’s never coming to a show again,” the artist tweeted following the concerning incident.
Sky reports that the artist later went ahead with a planned meet-and-greet, which was delayed for an hour following the attack. "She had to wear sunglasses and she was disoriented and dazed so it was sad having to talk to her like that," said fan Joel Rangel, who also went to the gig.
Pink roped into involuntary meet-and-greet
All credit must go to Pink, who admirably kept her cool after a fan at British Summer Time in Hyde Park lobbed a bag containing their late mother’s ashes onto the stage. Midway through her 2001 hit Just Like A Pill the US singer spotted the clear bag, before bending down to examine it. “Wait, is this your mum?” she asked, pausing singing and looking at the audience in confusion. “I don’t know how I feel about this.”
Pink then moved the ashes to safety before seamlessly continuing the song.The lyrics that immediately followed the bizarre moment, you might ask? “I can’t stay on your life support...”
Someone gave their Mothers ashes to Pink. I need yall to have boundaries like girl what?! 😭😂 pic.twitter.com/OkL4762fEs
— Andrew (@AsAndrewSpeaks) June 26, 2023
Lil Nas X not impressed by surprise stage visitor
During his set at Lollapalooza, Lil Nas X was suitably nonplussed when a random member of the crowd threw what appeared to be a fleshlight sex toy onto the stage. “Who threw they p***y on stage?” he quipped, and later changed his Twitter username in honour of the special guest. Curiously, the music stopped right on cue for the moment he discovered it, fading out with a comedy slowdown. Was it choreographed? Who knows, but it was still a moment to remember.