In 1989, Pink Floyd’s performance in Venice on a floating stage next to San Marco’s Square drew over 200,000 fans. It unintentionally led to the mayor’s resignation and the entire city council. The city authorities had arranged for a free concert to be broadcast in more than a dozen countries live from Venice’s Piazza San Marco. It was justified by stating that Venice should “be open to new trends, including rock music.” Many Venetians were excited by the news, but others were angry. Older Venetians opposed the concert. In their opinion, it would be a logistical nightmare that might lead to the destruction of ancient monuments and facades. Additionally, it would undermine the cultural integrity of the Redenetore (The Redeemer Festival), planned around the same time as the concert.
Three days before the concert’s July 15 date, the city’s superintendent for cultural heritage “vetoed the concert” because the amplified sound would damage the mosaics in St. Mark’s Basilica, and the piazza could sink. Eventually, the band agreed to lower the decibel levels from 100 to 60 and perform on a floating stage 200 yards from the square, adding to Venice’s “long history” of floating ephemeral architectures. RAI broadcast the spectacle in over 20 countries to approximately 100 million viewers. Some songs were omitted and others shortened due to the time limitations of live TV. The stage was surrounded by traditional Venetian boats, such as the sandals and the Sanpierotta, as well as classic Venetian rowing boats. There was a whole house in San Marco square. The concert was hailed as one of the greatest they had ever seen by many in attendance.
Ultimately, the audience caused the most damage. They left behind 300 tons of garbage and 500 cubic meters of empty bottles and cans. Since the city did not provide portable bathrooms, concertgoers relieved themselves of monuments and walls. Residents shouted down Mayor Antonio Casellati, attempting a public rapprochement two days later, with cries of “resign, resign, you’ve turned Venice into a toilet.” Casellati resigned, as did the entire city council that had elected him. In the end, the concert may have taken down the city’s government, but the band put on a show that millions at home and in Italy will never forget