There’s nothing like a band that you love showing up unexpectantly in a movie. Here are some of our favorite moments when a band showed up, blew our minds and rocked our eardrums. Keep in mind for this list, the band or artist had to actually be playing themselves. When it comes to musicians showing up as characters in movies, that’s a whole other list.
1. Cannibal Corpse playing “Hammer Smashed Face” in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: Jim Carrey asked for the Buffalo, New York by way of Tampa, Florida death metal masters of offense album covers and even more upsetting lyrics to play a scene in this film. Turns out he was a legit fan, even name dropping their name and Napalm Death on the Arsenio Hall Show that same year.
2. Ministry playing “What About Us?” in A.I. Artificial Intelligence: I love this moment in this bloated film as much as I dislike the rest of it, as the Detroit synth rockers turned industrial drug taking menace to society known as Ministry are transformed into broken down machines that play the Flesh Fair, where humans protest against robots.
3. My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult playing “After the Flesh” in The Crow: Speaking of Detroit, no band is a better pick to play Devil’s Night at Top Dollar’s club than this Chicago based disco/Satan/industrial/movie quoting collective. Their music is also all over Cool World, too. ”
4. Gwar playing “Saddam-a-Go-Go” in Empire Records: Of all people to show up in this 90’s teen ensemble, the last you’d expect to see is a band that spent thousands of years trapped beneath Antarctica before giving the people what they want, which can only be the senseless slaughter of the gutter-slime that litters this nation. Gwar was made for movies, but them being in this one still is a shocker.
5. The Donnas playing the prom in Jawbreaker: Remember when The Donnas were all over the place? Jawbreaker is a reminder of 1999, a time when four tough girls could battle the entire world.
6. The 5,6,7,8’s play the House of the Blue Leaves house band in Kill Bill: If you’re going to run a Yakuza bar and earn the rage of Beatrix Kiddo, you better have the right band playing for the battle that soon follows between her and the Crazy 88’s. Luckily, these ladies are able to provide the perfect soundtrack for all the bloodshed that follows.
7. Digital Underground in Nothing But Trouble: I’m so happy that people are starting to discover just how amazingly wonderful and ridiculous this 1991 Dan Aykroyd comedy is. It’s one madman assembling an army of artists to create something strange that nobody wants to see on an incredibly immense scale. You could call it a folly. I’d call it a secret success — and Tupac’s first movie role, too.
8. Sorcery in Stunt Rock: Sorcery was more than a band. They also had two master magicians who would battle it out as Merlin and Satan while they played. I was literally seconds into the trailer for this movie when I bought it and that was all because of this part, where Merlin blasts explosions across the stage. Is magic real? Watch this and find out for sure. Also: Stunt Rock is a “death wish at 120 decibels.” I’d recommend watching it a hundred times.
9. Motörhead playing “Eat the Rich” in Eat the Rich: Only Lemmy could rhyme Shetland pony with extra pepperoni. This The Comic Strip Presents… movie may have flopped hard, but the song lives forever.
10. Queens of the Stone Age as Gown in Hot Rod: Yep. That’s the desert rockers playing the intro for the final stunt in this ode to falling off motorcycles and beating up your stepfather.
There’s also The Afghan Whigs in Beautiful Girls, Alice Cooper’s awesome speech in Wayne’s World and Anthrax in the movie Calendar Girls.
Honorable — or dishonorable — mention goes to every 1990’s pop punk band that showed up in a movie, such as Good Charlotte in Not Another Teen Movie, Simple Plan in New York Minute, The Offspring getting killed in Idle Hands, Smash Mouth in Rat Race, Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Clueless, Save Ferris in 10 Things I Hate About You, Bowling for Soup in Britney Spears’ Crossroads (not the Ralph Macchio Crossroads, which has Steve Vai as Satan’s guitarist) and Blink-182 in American Pie.
Do you have a favorite? Let us know.