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7 Bands Robbed Blind of All Their Gear

Kim Gordon Anton Newcombe Daniel Rossen
Mark Von Holden / Justin Renney / Getty Images

One minute, a band is loading gear into their van after a kick-ass show, the next, they’re waking up to the sobering realization that some a-holes have swiped the trailer holding every guitar, amp, keyboard and drumstick they’d depended on for sustenance. Thefts of band gear don’t happen every day, but they’re more common than many people realize, and over the last several years, dozens of indie and alt-rock bands have seen their equipment looted. Musicians rarely recover their stolen instruments, and for groups struggling to earn livelihoods on the road, such crimes can be real nightmares. Hence, it’s with great sympathy that we compile this list of Seven Bands Robbed Blind of All Their Gear.


Dinosaur Jr.
Karl Walter, Getty Images


Dinosaur Jr.


Dinosaur Jr. parked their tour van and and trailer hitch outside of a hotel in Long Island City, N.Y., back in the summer of 2006 following a show in nearby Brooklyn, only to discover the next morning that thieves had made off with of the trio’s expensive collection of vintage instruments, including frontman J Mascis’ one-of-a-kind stash of purple-sparkled guitars. The culprits were never apprehended.


Simone Joyner, Getty Images




While 2012 was a breakout year for Grimes, it wasn’t all roses for the Canadian electro-pop artist. Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) and her backing band’s entire stash of keyboards, samplers and other electronics was reported stolen following a show last August in Manchester, England. “If you know anything about this get at me!” the singer tweeted, but nobody seemed to know anything about it, and Grimes never got her stuff back.


Portugal. the Man
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images


Portugal. the Man


Potugal. the Man were coming off the high of a successful Lollapalooza show in 2011 when an entire van and trailer loaded floor to ceiling with their equipment was swiped from a nearby parking lot. Gone was a mountain of guitars, amps, drum gear and keyboards, as well as a banjo and singer John Gourley’s prized Gretsch White Falcon (pictured left). But the band’s desperate Twitter plea paid off, as someone was soon apprehended for trying to fence the stuff, and the band actually recovered some of their items, prompting a big “thank you” to fans.


Grizzly Bear
Getty Images


Grizzly Bear


Two misfortunes struck Grizzly Bear while they were trekking across Europe in the fall of 2006. First, guitarist Daniel Rossen’s father fell ill, prompting the group to consider calling things off so Dan could spend time with him. Then, during a stop in Brussels, the Grizzly van was broken into, and much of the quartet’s equipment and personal possessions were robbed. The final 12 dates were abruptly called off.


Anton Newcombe
Justin Renney, Getty Images


The Brian Jonestown Massacre


Psych-rock soothsayers the Brian Jonestown Massacre lost a ton of gorgeous vintage gear —  including Anton Newcombe’s maroon Vox Cheetah, pictured left — when their U-Haul trailer was swiped before a New York City show in back in 2005. On the bright side, Joel Gion wasn’t on tour at the time, so his massive collection of tambourines was safe.


The Decemberists
Bryan Bedder, Getty Images


The Decemberists


When the Decemberists had a trailer full of their gear ripped off in their hometown of Portland, Ore., back in 2005, the bandits didn’t just get away with a couple of guitars. The large indie collective is known for its diverse instrumentation, and the tally of stolen items — including an accordion, banjo, dulcimer and mandolin — was worth more than $40,000. Thankfully, some of it was recovered by police, and donations from fans helped make up the difference.


Sonic Youth
Mark Von Holden, Getty Images


Sonic Youth


The mother of all indie-rock gear thefts involves Sonic Youth, who famously had an entire Ryder truck full of their vintage customized gear pilfered from a Los Angeles motel parking lot in July 2000. SY had been collecting for 20 years, and their list of stolen goods included dozens of guitars, amps, effects pedals and other equipment. A handful of guitars have been recovered and returned over the years, thanks to some eagle-eyed fans.


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