My all-time favorite stage move has always been when James Brown would act exhausted after giving his all to the audience and would fall to his knees shaking his head in a gesture of I-can't-do-this-anymore, whereupon one of his dudes would drape a cape around his shoulders and lead him offstage, only to have James throw it off, run up and grab the mic, re-engergized by his kick-ass band.
Second place? Probably a tie between the humping the guitar/machine gun guitar and the '70s Elvis karate demonstrations.
In fact, my friend Pat and I got quite a bit of milage joking about how indie rock would be a lot more entertaining with a bit more showmanship (and a good editor). How awesome would it be if Sebadoh would break down mid song, then have a dude put a ratty thrift-store cardigan or horn-rim nerd glasses on Lou Barlow and have him re-energized and ready to (theoretically) rock the house?
Anyway, couple weeks ago I got this Stax Records documentary from Netflix. I put it on and was doing something else while the DVD played. It was pretty interesting, but since I've read a couple books on Stax, I figured I didn't really need to pay attention too much.
Then they show a clip from the Stax 1968 European tour. Sam and Dave are playing "Hold On, I'm Coming." Like most of the live Stax stuff I've heard, the song is much faster and grittier, making you forget all the times your dad's friends felt all Blues Brotherey after a couple beers and would attempt to sing that or "Soul Man."
So the song is ending and getting faster and faster and they're both doing this crazy dance that looks like they're trying to pull up their pants while shimmying all over the stage. As the song accelerates, they're pretty much just yelling "hold on" over and over to each other.
Then one of them passes out. Two dudes grab him and take him to the side of the stage. Then about 10 seconds later he shimmys across the stage to keep screaming out "hold on" some more.
That just might be the greatest stage move I've ever seen.